On Monday, the Washington Football Team placed a second consecutive franchise tag on All-Pro Guard Brandon Scherff for $18,036,000. The two sides are still trying to come together and get a long term deal done, but if a deal is not done by July 15, I expect him to walk in free agency in 2022. Washington loves Scherff, but his injury mixed with his price tag makes it tougher to stomach his asking price. The main issue is they don’t have a good enough replacement to allow him to walk in free agency. When they went through the tag games with Kirk Cousins back in 2017, they let him walk because they had a replacement for him when they traded for Alex Smith.
There’s an outside chance that Scherff and his camp might take less money on average for long term stability, but with a second franchise tag being placed, the chances aren’t that high.
The key part about this free agency period compared to others before, the cap is down from last year by about $20M ($198.2M down to $182.5M) due to revenue loss by the COVID-19 pandemic. For this reason, expect a lot of players to sign one year deals, expecting to cash out on 2022 when the cap jumps back up to around $220M when the new TV deals come up.
As for Ronald Darby, both sides want to come together for a reunion, but it’s all about money. Darby was an easy signing last season because he only made $3M on a “prove it” type of deal, but with him playing as good as he did last year, that alone might get him paid. Spotrac has his market value value at about $9.2M on average, at a 4 year/$36M deal, right under Kendall Fuller’s 4 year/$40M he signed last season.
The main question would be, would Washington be willing to bid for Ronald Darby at about $8-9, or draft his replacement? Darby may not a top flight corner, but he’s sure as hell a good piece to have on a team with the edge rushers you’ll have to pay up front. Paying Darby for 3 years would be a great idea to me, especially if the salary cap jumps back up in 2022 and beyond.
They’ve tenured QB Kyle Allen paying him $850,000 for the 2021-22 season. Ron Rivera has always said that Allen was in their plans, and this deal proves that. Coming off an ankle injury expect Allen to be ready by April.
The other options I can see them addressing is QB and WR.
As of right now, they know their ideal starting QB is not currently in the building. Allen is coming off the ankle injury, Taylor Heinicke is a career backup who had one great playoff game, and Steven Montez is an UDFA. Not a very deep QB room by any means. They’ve been linked Florida QB Kyle Trask by ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr, and they’ve also been linked to potentially acquiring Panther QB Teddy Bridgewater. Carolina coach Matt Rhule came out Wednesday and said “He’s our QB”.
Well, yes he is. He’s under contact, so what else is he going to say? If he’s your QB, why have they been linked to Deshaun Watson? Plus, he said that in February 2020: “I fully expect Cam to be on the roster in September. I want to coach Cam Newton, I want him to be here”.
Last time I checked, Cam Newton was on the Patriots. I’ll take his words with a grain of salt and let their actions do the talking.
The QB option that I do not expect to be on the table is Sam Darnold. Does he have the possibility to become a good starting QB in the NFL? Yes, especially since Adam Gase is now gone. But here’s the one downfall, the decision on his fifth year option has to decided by May 3rd. Whatever team Sam Darnold is on, his 5th year option will cost $18,858,000. Let’s just say for a guy that has a completion percentage under 60%, has missed 10 games in three years, and is coming off a season where he threw 9 TDs and 11 INTs, it probably won’t be picked up, especially at the second round asking price.
The mystery at the QB position is the biggest question mark of the offseason, so expect them to be linked to many QBs around the league.
Now to WR, expect Washington to be aggressive like last year. With Allen Robinson and Chris Godwin being franchise tagged, the focus now goes to the tier two guys. The top options that will be available are Kenny Golladay, Will Fuller,Marvin Jones Jr, Juju Smith-Schuster, Curtis Samuel, Corey Davis, and Nelson Agholor. I first option I think they’ll look at is Curtis Samuel simply because of the Carolina connections. He is the opposite of Antonio Gibson, a RB who converted to WR, so he has the ability to help out all over the offense. with 1051 total scrimmage yards in 118 touches, he is definitely someone that Ron Rivera and Scott Turner would love to bring along.
I think if they don’t get the one guy that they were looking to get like they were last year in Amari Cooper, expect a offseason like last year. A lot of cheaper guys on contracts that will be way over their contract value (JD McKissic comes to mind). Just because Washington has one of the best cap situations in the NFL, that does not mean that they will spend all of it in free agency. They commit to shorter term deals with other guys, and take a look at the draft, mixed with the second wave of free agency coming after the post June 1st cuts.