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Redskins 'no-brainer' RG3 option decision a product of QB supply and demand

Redskins 'no-brainer' RG3 option decision a product of QB supply and demand

Even though many saw some upside and some downside in the Redskins’ decision to exercise the 2016 option in the contract of quarterback Robert Griffin III, team president Bruce Allen though it was an easy call to make.

Well we think Robert is our starting quarterback,” Allen said on Monday. “We’ve seen him win. We’ve seen him win big games. We know his talent. It really was a no-brainer.”

The main concern about the option is that it becomes guaranteed should Griffin get injured and unable to play in 2016. With a medical record that includes two torn ACL’s (one in college, one at the end of his rookie year) and a dislocated ankle that caused him to miss six games last year the injury factor is a legitimate concern. But Allen looks at it as a cost of doing business.

There’s a cost to everyone who gets hurt,” he said. “I don’t see that as an individual player thing. Any injury is going to cost you on the salary cap.”

Of perhaps greater concern than the injury problems is the fact that a healthy Griffin was benched in favor of Colt McCoy in late November. His inconsistent performance since his stellar rookie 2012 season casts doubt on whether or not Griffin will be worth the $16.6 million salary that comes with the option.

But the thing is that paying large salaries to quarterbacks with spotty records is the way the NFL does business. The Panthers have gone 30-31-1 in Cam Newton’s 62 regular season starts and 1-2 in the playoffs. The former No. 1 overall pick has completed less than 60 percent of his passes and has a pedestrian QB rating of 85.4. Despite that, Newton and the Panthers are close to agreeing on a contract extension that would keep the quarterback in Carolina through 2020 and pay him something north of $20 million per year.

It should be noted that Newton has generally improved his performance from year to year and he has rushed for 2,571 yards in his career (643 yards/season). He has a chance to be very good. But the $20 million per year mark used to be reserved for quarterbacks who have hoisted the Lombardi Trophy. Now it looks like Newton will join Ryan Tannehill of the Dolphins as .500 quarterbacks with deals that pay nearly $20 million per year (Tannehill’s recently signed extension pays him $19.25 million per year).

Perhaps one year at $16.6 million for Griffin isn’t a bargain compared to the deals signed by Newton and Tannehill but if he shows even modest improvement it would not be an outrageous salary for the team to pay.

It’s a matter of supply and demand. Top-notch quarterbacks are in very short supply and it’s tough to even find one who can be consistently competent. When the demand exceeds the supply, costs go up.

The owners and GM’s who are handing out these deals will, like Allen, say it’s the cost of doing business. But there may be as much fear as business acumen involved in these deals, as Kevin Clark, NFL writer for the Wall Street Journal tweeted after Newton’s contract numbers came out.

The Redskins may not be very happy with Griffin’s play over the last couple of years. But one of the few things worse than putting up with inconsistent quarterback play is trying to find and develop a new one. They have a lot invested in Griffin, both in terms of the draft picks it took to get him and the time they have taken to try to turn him into a dependable NFL quarterback. Despite his struggles it looks like they think it is too early to start looking again. There is some legitimate fear of going down that path again.

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Trent Murphy had offseason foot surgery to repair broken bone, per source

Trent Murphy had offseason foot surgery to repair broken bone, per source

Redskins outside linebacker Trent Murphy underwent surgery this offseason to repair a broken bone in his foot, per a source with knowledge of the situation. Murphy has completely healed and is a full participant at training camp. 

The injury came late in the 2016 season and he played the Redskins final game of the season with the broken foot. He was listed on the injury report for that game as limited with a foot injury. He was not listed on the Week 16 injury report against the Bears.

Hit with a four-game suspension for performance enhancing drugs this offseason, Murphy won't suit up for the Redskins until Week 6. He will be forced to miss the first four games, and then the Redskins have a bye in Week 5. 

Murphy had a breakout season in 2016, finishing the year with nine sacks and 47 tackles. A second round pick in 2014, Murphy had a combined six sacks in the two seasons prior. Last offseason, Murphy was tasked with gaining weight for a position switch to defensive end. After he gained the weight, outside linebacker Junior Galette was lost for the season, and Murphy was moved back to outside linebacker. 

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Redskins' Gruden will readjust to calling plays by going off script

Redskins' Gruden will readjust to calling plays by going off script

RICHMOND—The Redskins offense is dealing with some challenges on the field. Their top two wide receivers from last year left as free agents and replacements Terrelle Pryor and Josh Doctson have little game experience with quarterback Kirk Cousins. Tight end Jordan Reed (toe) was a surprise entry on the PUP list. Running back Rob Kelley needs to prepare to get ready to carry the load for 16 games.

There is one other change the team must deal with. Sean McVay, the team’s offensive coordinator, left in January to become the head coach of the Los Angeles Rams. He had been calling the plays for the past two years. That duty will now fall on head coach Jay Gruden.

RELATED: Reed one of four to start camp on PUP

Play calling is not new to Gruden. He did it from 2011-2013 for the Bengals when he was the offensive coordinator in Cincinnati. Gruden also made the play calls in 2014, his first season as the Redskins head coach.

Still, he wants to make sure that he’s ready to retake the play caller’s headset. The method he will use is to throw away the script.

“I think early on we’re going to have scripted practices, and once we get going, get our main core of plays in there, I think we’ll have a lot of unscripted practices where I can call plays,” he said. “So I think that’s the most important thing, the unscripted practice. Whether it’s two -minute, whether it’s drives down the field, whether it’s third downs, all that good stuff, do a lot of unscripted work, red zone and go from there, but I feel pretty comfortable already.”

That certainly makes sense. Games are not scripted and the successful play callers who can adjust to the ebb and flow of the game. You can’t duplicate the dynamic but you can come close in 11 on 11 work on the practice field.

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Another key to making this work will be trusting his defensive and special teams coaches. If Gruden can’t delegate to them he will be getting pulled in too many directions on game days.

“How well I handle that will be how successful I will probably be as a coordinator calling plays and as a coach,” he said. “I feel good about the staff that I have around me. Coach [Greg] Manusky and Jim Tomsula and Torrian Gray on the defensive side of the ball, I don’t think I have to worry so much about that, Ben Kotwica, Bret Munsey on the special teams. The big thing is I have got to be involved in the football game, make sure I’m ready for the red flag tosses and all that good stuff, but for the most part I have confidence in the defense and special team coaches and players.”

We will see how well it works out. As a rookie coach he occasionally seemed to be overwhelmed by all that he had piled on his plate (the situation was complicated by his curious decision not to hire a quarterbacks coach). But now, with three years under his belt and an exponentially better understanding of what is involved in coaching an NFL game, there should be more confidence that he can handle it.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.