WASHINGTON — The Redskins may want to see Kirk Cousins play out his one-year contract before deciding a path forward, but that isn’t the case for linebacker Zach Brown.
The Redskins have seen enough and want to see a lot more.
The 2016 offseason free-agent acquisition has helped provide the Redskins’ defense with a new identity this season. He was the first NFL player to 100 tackles this season and still leads the NFL with 117 stops.
At this point, if he can stay healthy, he should finish the season at the top of the stack and perhaps another Pro Bowl visit. That would be the second consecutive contract year in which Brown would end the season in Orlando, and the Redskins are reportedly working to make sure that he comes back to D.C. after.
Besides Brown and Cousins, the Redskins also have to consider receiver Terrelle Pryor, center Spencer Long, guard Shawn Lauvao and cornerback Bashaud Breeland. Pryor is almost certain to depart, with Lauvao and Long up in the air. Given their stature on the offense and defense, Cousins and Brown are likely to be priorities, starting now.
One thing that could influence negotiations is that Brown was hobbled vs. the Cowboys on Thursday night, and was spotted wearing a walking boot after the game:
If he is significantly hampered by the injury, this could delay negotiations or reroute them entirely. This week’s injury report could be important for continuing the conversation.
Many teams use the excuse of the season to not sign a player to a long-term deal, but that tends to be “team speak” for delaying a decision. On Saturday, the Philadelphia Eagles signed received Alshon Jeffry, also playing on a one-year contract, to a four-year extension, so big deals can get done before the ink dries on a season.
What is certain is that Brown will be making more than his $2.3 million base salary for 2017, which is the 25th highest among NFL inside linebackers. Luke Kuechly leads the pack among NFL inside linebackers with nearly $12.4 million in annual average salary.