SNIDER: Redskins Should Start Extending Free Agents

by Rick Snider

Kirk Cousins may seem like the Washington Redskins only 2018 free agent given the constant debate over keeping him. But, Washington has 17 others.

Unlike Cousins, whose franchise tag prevents contract talks until season’s end, other free agents can be extended now.

And, the Redskins might be smart to redo linebacker Zach Brown’s deal now and at least attempt talks with cornerback Baushad Breeland, because once the season ends, free agents want to test the market even if re-signing. Often, it’s only more expensive for the team to wait, though some of their free agents won’t be hotly-sought.

Cousins’ contract certainly impacts 2018 planning, given he could cost anywhere from zero to $34 million. But modest moves now help clear some space for next season.

Brown leads the NFL in tackles. His one-year, $2.3 million deal is a steal and will likely triple. He can man the middle for the next five years. That makes him the Redskins’ No. 1 priority after Cousins.

Breeland has finally learned to temper his recklessness and play like a No. 1 corner despite being behind Josh Norman. The Redskins’ problem is Breeland wants No. 1 money and will likely draw it elsewhere. Overpaying him now might save money in a spring bidding duel where Breeland likely leaves. Yes, the Redskins have his successor in Kendall Fuller, but having too many good corners is not a problem.

The Redskins have a handful of decent starters who shouldn’t be too expensive, but might get some leaguewide interest. Linebackers Trent Murphy, Will Compton, Mason Foster and Junior Galette are all affordable. So are receiver Ryan Grant and center Spencer Long. And, if safety DeAngelo Hall finishes the season healthy, don’t be surprised to see the 33-year-old re-sign.

Terrelle Pryor, Sr. looks like a bad fit, so he’s probably gone. For a variety of reasons, guard Shawn Lauvao, tight end Niles Paul, receiver Brian Quick and kicker Dustin Hopkins might not return, either. On injured reserve, Hopkins may be an afterthought if successor Nick Rose does well.

Meanwhile, back to fighting over whether Cousins is worth the money.

Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter @Snide_Remarks.

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