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What are the Redskins' options with Pierre Garçon's contract?

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What are the Redskins' options with Pierre Garçon's contract?

There is chatter out there that the Redskins are looking to do something with Pierre Garçon’s contract. That deal has two years left to go with cap hits of $9.7 million this year and $10.2 million in 2016 and Redskins may want to lower that number.

The problem is that there isn’t a way to lower the wide receiver’s cap hit that makes sense for both the player and the team. Here are the possibilities.

A straight pay cut—This is the solution that will work out best for the team. Garçon would have to agree to a reduction in his base pay. His contract calls for a salary of $7.1 million plus a workout bonus of $150,000 and per-game roster bonuses that can total $250,000. The Redskins could offer to cut the base pay to somewhere in the $4-$5 million range. That would put the ball in the court of Garçon’s camp. They would rightfully ask why he should take a pay cut. His production didn’t drop from 113 receptions in 2013 to 68 last year due to anything he did wrong. Garçon was not responsible for the three-man carousel the Redskins had going at quarterback nor did he make the free agent deal that brought in DeSean Jackson, cutting into his chances. I can’t see any reason why Garçon would agree to a reduced salary.

A simple restructure—They could convert up to about $6 million of his salary to signing bonus and split that cap charge between this year and next. That would reduce his 2015 cap number to around $6.7 million. But his 2016 cap hit would balloon to over $13 million. It would add $3 million to the dead money if they decide they want to move on from him a year from now, when he will be 30 by the time the season starts. Since they aren’t in any particular cap problems as of right now and could create some room by releasing some older, costlier players, there isn’t any reason to make a move like this.

An extension—They could agree to a contract extension for Garçon, and format it in such a way that would reduce the cap hit this season. But, again, if Garçon doesn’t agree to take less money an extension that would kick in for his age 31 season just doesn’t make much sense. Some receivers still thrive well past 30; others see declining production. How much will Pierre Garçon be worth in 2017? It’s very risky to predict that right now. The Redskins could structure it in a way where they could get out of it with relatively little pain after 2016. But I don’t know why Garçon would agree to a deal that would very possibly put him on the free agent market at age 31.

From here, it looks like only three options are realistic in this situation:

Keep the status quo—Just pay him and focus on getting the ball to him more often.

Trade him—Perhaps a team would give up a third- or fourth-round pick for a player who had over 100 catches two years ago. The $7.5 million salary plus bonuses might be a little steep but the team landing Garçon would not pick up any guaranteed money obligations. The Redskins would incur $4.4 million in dead cap charges but save a net of $5.3 million against the cap this year and $8 million in 2016.

Release him—The cap consequences would be the same as trading him.

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How big a need do the Redskins have at running back?

How big a need do the Redskins have at running back?

Do the Redskins have a draft need at running back? It depends on who you ask.

Jay Gruden seems to be very happy with incumbent running back Rob Kelley. Here is what he had to say last month about the second-year back, signed as an undrafted free agent out of Tulane, last month:

“Oh, man, I love Rob Kelley,” Gruden said. “I thought he played great. You throw a rookie free agent into the fire like that and see him play and compete. Not one time did I feel like it was too big for him. Not once. That’s a hell of a thing to say for a kid out of Tulane who only had a couple of carries his senior year. He came right in, he competes on every play.”

Kelley played in 15 games last year and rushed for 704 yards and scored six touchdowns. He started the last nine games and if you project his numbers in this games out over a 16-game season you get about 1,050 yards and 11 touchdowns. That’s not Ezekiel Elliott or Le’Veon Bell production but it’s good for a team that is going to rely mostly on the pass.

Gruden also praised third-down back Chris Thompson and backup Mack Brown. In a telling sign, he acknowledged that 2015 third-round pick Matt Jones is still on the roster but he didn’t have much good to say about him.

Why, then, do you see so many draft analysts listing running back as one of the team’s most urgent needs? Mark Maske, who is the Post’s national NFL writer but also a former Redskins beat reporter, has them taking Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey in his mock draft. “There certainly are issues on defense for the Redskins,” writes Maske. But there also is a need at running back.”

Lance Zierlein of NFL.com said that the Redskins “obviously” need a running back as his rationale for mocking Florida State’s Dalvin Cook to Washington at No. 17.

So, what is it? Is Kelley adequate for the Redskins’ needs considering they call pass plays on over 60 percent of their offensive snaps? Would they run more often if they had a back like McCaffrey or Cook? And if they did run more would the offense improve?

I think that running back is like several positions with the Redskins. If they have to get through the 2016 season with what they have they will be OK. But if there is an upgrade on the board when they are on the clock they won’t hesitate to make the pick if he’s the best player available.

We will see what happens if, say, McCaffrey is still on the board when the Redskins pick at No. 17 and top defensive targets like Rueben Foster and Haason Reddick are off the board. That will be the true test to see how committed Gruden and the rest of the organization are to Kelley, Thompson, and company. 

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When talent is there, Bruce Allen has looked past red flags in 1st round of NFL Draft

When talent is there, Bruce Allen has looked past red flags in 1st round of NFL Draft

A four-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champ, Aqib Talib has a long and checkered past, which includes multiple arrests and failed PED and drug tests. The problems aren't new either, the talented cornerback was first arrested as a high school student. In college at Kansas, Talib was suspended multiple times and had multiple positive tests for marijuana use. 

Why does this matter for Redskins fans on the eve of the NFL Draft?

Despite all the trouble, Bruce Allen drafted Talib 20th overall in 2008 when the current Redskins general manager was in the same role for Tampa. While Talib's legal troubles and suspensions continued in the NFL, he also proved to be a highly capable cornerback in the pro game. 

The lesson for those trying to determine the Redskins draft board: Allen might be willing to look past red flags if a player presents good value. Talib did in 2008, and there could be opportunities for Washington in 2017.

Reuben Foster jumps to mind, as the talented Alabama linebacker will enter the league in the substance abuse program. While Foster's issues pale in comparison to other allegations about some draft prospects, players like Joe Mixon, Gareon Conley and Caleb Brantley will also present unique circumstances for NFL teams to evaluate. 

GMs are thrust into the unenviable task of determining a player's character, often in short periods of time. As 'Skins director of college scouting Scott Campbell explained, the team grades every player for their football skills first, and only later adds in character information. From Campbell's comments:

When you start to evaluate guys in the beginning, you don’t factor in the character. You don’t grade character, you grade talent. So you don’t throw away somebody early that may have some redeeming quality, or there’s a side to the story you don’t know about. You grade football players as football players first on talent, and then when it comes closer to the draft, you start weeding all that, getting more information, deciding, ‘OK, this guy’s not our kind of guy, this guy’s not a Redskin, this guy could be drafted, but good luck to him.

Thursday night the Redskins will be forced to make a determination on the right player for the team. That decision could include judging a player's character, and that could mean balancing legal or substance abuse troubles with talent and ability.

Talib is only one pick in Allen's long personnel career, but it's one worth noting. 

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