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The 5 O’Clock Club: Who are the unquestioned starters for 2019?

It’s 5 o’clock somewhere…

New York Giants v Washington Redskins Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The 5 o’clock club is published Wednesday to Saturday during the season, and aims to provide a forum for reader-driven discussion at a time of day when there isn’t much NFL news being published. Feel free to introduce topics that interest you in the comments below.

Shoulda, woulda, coulda

This season, 2018, should have been the ‘setup’ for a 2019 payoff. This should have been the season where Alex Smith got comfortable, where the young group of defensive backs learned to play together, where Derrius Guice established himself, where the Defensive Line became a coherent unit.

This season should have been a division championship with a playoff game or two.

With 9 draft picks in hand, the Redskins should have entered the offseason with a lot of answers and very few questions, able to focus on getting the last few players needed to insure the 2019 playoffs while the team had its quarterback, cornerbacks, left tackle, center, right guard, right tackle, defensive tackles, outside linebackers, safeties, running back and a very good tight end all in place.

But that plan is shot to shit.

At this point, the Redskins have more questions than answers.

I don’t feel like writing about the front office or coaching staff today. For me, today’s article is all about the players. I wanna take a minute and run through the offensive and defensive “starters” and make a few comments. My main focus is on the following question:

Who are the unquestioned starters for 2019?

Offense

WR1: Josh Doctson - I’d say that his draft status keeps him safe unless there is a complete shakeup of the front office and coaching staff (shit... couldn’t get past the fist player without discussing that). 90% Doctson

Washington Redskins v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

WR2: Paul Richardson — I’d say his contract keeps him safe, unless the team acquires a better player who pushes Richardson to the bench. 85% Richardson

WR3: I think this is an open question. I lean towards Trey Quinn. Crowder simply hasn’t produced this year, he’ll be a free agent at the end of the year, and the ‘Skins are gonna have to balance a lot of unexpected salary cap issues following the dual broken legs to Smith & McCoy. Quinn looked okay in the few quarters of play that he wasn’t injured, but his injuries may be as troubling as any other considerations at this position. 60% Trey Quinn, 30% draft pick, 5% Crowder, 3% Harris, 2% vet free agent

LT: Trent Williams - Unquestioned starter. 100% Trent Williams

Washington Redskins v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

LG: Completely unsettled. 50% draft pick, 45% vet free agent, 5% Jonathan Cooper

C: Chase Roullier - Unless the Redskins have a reason to move Roullier to Guard, I don’t see why he wouldn’t be the starting center next season (unless there is a new coach who isn’t a Roullier fan). 75% Roullier (90% if Gruden returns in 2019)

RG: Brandon Scherff - The Reskins exercised his 5th year option, so the only way Scherff isn’t the starter is if he is not healthy. 95% Scherff

NFL: Denver Broncos at Washington Redskins Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

RT: Morgan Moses - He’s struggling right now, but I don’t see the team using cap space or draft capital to replace him. 95% Moses

TE: In any year since ‘13 when Reed was drafted, I would have put him at 100%, but the Redskins can clear $6.1m of cap space by cutting or trading him. One way or the other, I think he’s likely gone in 2019. Vernon Davis has been inconsistent this season, and the Redskins can save $5m on salary cap by cutting or trading him as well. That’s $11m in needed salary cap space if the Redskins start over at tight end. 45% Reed, 50% draft pick, 5% vet free agent

RB: Derrius Guice - Like Brandon Scherff, the only thing that keeps Guice from starting Week 1 is health. 95% Derrius Guice

NFL: Washington Redskins at New England Patriots Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

Poll

Who will take the first snap from center in Week 1 of 2019 for the Redskins?

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    Alex Smith
    (28 votes)
  • 42%
    Colt McCoy
    (254 votes)
  • 0%
    Mark Sanchez
    (2 votes)
  • 9%
    Josh Johnson
    (55 votes)
  • 15%
    draft pick
    (93 votes)
  • 19%
    veteran free agent
    (115 votes)
  • 8%
    veteran who comes to the team via trade
    (51 votes)
598 votes total Vote Now

Defense

DE: Jonathan Allen - unquestioned. 100% Jon Allen

DT: Daron Payne - unquestioned. 100% Daron Payne

Washington Redskins v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

DE: Matt Ioannidis - This position as a “starter” depends on a lot of factors, but in a ‘base’ 3-4, I think this is IoanMan’s position, even though he plays far fewer snaps than Allen & Payne when the team starts running ‘sub’ packages. If the team feels good about Settle’s development, there’s an outside chance that Matt gets traded, though I don’t think that’s very likely. 95% Matt Ioannidis

ROLB: Wow... this may be one of the biggest questions of the offseason. Right now, I feel like the Redskins have more draft capital than cap space, so, if they don’t resign Preston Smith, then I expect them to either draft a replacement or roll with the current roster; I don’t think they’ll use cap space to try to sign a vet free agent if they let Smith walk. 45% Preston Smith, 45% draft pick, 5% vet free agent, 5% Ryan Anderson

ILB: Mason Foster/Shaun Dion Hamilton - Foster has been inconsistent this season. The Redskins can save $2m in cap space by cutting him. The team is too slow at ILB and can’t cover TEs and running backs. With Saquon Barkley and Zach Etz in the division, that can’t continue. The team won’t have the cap space to pay a top-tier vet free agent, so the options are limited. 37% Shaun Dion Hamilton, 33% Mason Foster, 30% draft pick

ILB: Zach Brown/Josh Harvey-Clemons - The team can save $5.75m in salary cap by cutting or trading Brown, but I don’t think they can replace him with a better player for the same money, so, unless they draft a replacement, I think we’re likely to see Brown back, with JHC continuing to be the nickel-backer. 55% Zach Brown, 25% draft pick, 20% Reuben Foster

LOLB: Ryan Kerrigan - The only way that Kerrigan isn’t the starter here next year is if the Redskins decide to trade him, which would save $10.75m of salary cap and could bring a decent draft pick in return. Gruden wouldn’t let a trade happen, but a new front office might see an opportunity. 90% Ryan Kerrigan

Dallas Cowboys v Washington Redskins Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

CB: Quinton Dunbar - Nobody in the Redskins organization seems to think that Dunbar’s nerve issue will keep him off the field next year, but, they also don’t seem to have any real answers. Moreau, Stroman, Johnson, Alexander all seem under-baked at the moment, but a full offseason of training might help one of them reach the level needed to replace Dunbar if he can’t go. 55% Dunbar, 15% Alexander, 10% draft pick, 10% Moreau, 10% Stroman

S: D.J. Swearinger - If Gruden is back, I’d say Swearinger is an unquestioned lock. I think a new front office or coach would still find it too hard to replace D.J., and he would survive, even if the new guy didn’t like him as much as Jay does. 99% D.J. Swearninger

NFL: Denver Broncos at Washington Redskins Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

S: Nicholson / Clinton-Dix - HHCD will be a free agent as soon as the 2018 season comes to an end, and keeping him with the team will mean paying him. He has been a bit inconsistent, and doesn’t seem to have the speed or range that Nicholson possesses. In Gruden’s Monday press conference, he was making noises about Nicholson seeing increased playing time in the final three games.

We have to look at Montae again. I think nobody gave up on Montae, we traded for a good player, a Pro-Bowl type player in Ha Ha and we wanted to give him every opportunity to come in and play. It wasn’t that we were down on Montae at all, we just needed depth at that position, got him in here and we liked what we saw, so we put him out there early. But, Montae does have a chance to play in the next three weeks quite a bit if we choose to that route because he is a good player with great speed.

I’m guessing here, but the tea leaves in the bottom of my cup say that the Redskins let HHCD walk at the end of the season to save the cap space, and in hopes of getting a comp pick in 2020. 55% Nicholson, 25% draft pick, 20% Clinton-Dix

CB: Josh Norman is the highest paid CB in the league, but he’s not bad value for a trade, however, as his salary for ‘19 & ‘20 averages “just” $11.5m per year — far less than the cap hit for the Redskins. Getting him off the books would save the Redskins $8.5m in salary cap this season, and $20m over the two remaining seasons of his contract. I see the Redskins front office trying very hard to trade Josh for draft picks as soon as they can, and cutting him if they can’t find a trade partner. I think it would take an unusual set of circumstances to find J-No still in burgundy & gold come Week 1 of 2019. 25% Alexander, 25% Moreau, 25% Stroman, 15% Josh Norman, 10% draft pick

NFL: New York Giants at Washington Redskins Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Poll

Which defensive player currently on the roster is LEAST likely to still be a Redskin in Week 1 of 2019?

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    Matt Ioannidis
    (7 votes)
  • 1%
    Ryan Kerrigan
    (9 votes)
  • 22%
    Josh Norman
    (133 votes)
  • 40%
    HaHa Clinton-Dix
    (241 votes)
  • 7%
    Preston Smith
    (47 votes)
  • 21%
    Mason Foster
    (127 votes)
  • 1%
    Zach Brown
    (10 votes)
  • 0%
    D.J. Swearinger
    (3 votes)
  • 3%
    Danny Johnson
    (18 votes)
595 votes total Vote Now