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The 5 O’Clock Club: The case for trading Ryan Kerrigan now

It’s 5 o’clock somewhere…

Washington Redskins v New Orleans Saints Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

The 5 o’clock club 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.

Readers continue to take me up on my offer to publish their contributions in the 5 o’clock club space.

Today I’ve got a contribution from marblemike, a guy who only recently found his way to the Hogs Haven comments area, but who is seldom shy with his opinions and has proven himself capable of writing well-considered arguments that may or may not be popular with the masses.

In Tuesday’s 5 o’clock club, we learned that the Redskins had the most effective pass rush in the NFC East, and that Ryan Kerrigan led the NFL in ‘quality sacks’.

Today’s email entry is likely to stir some passion.

Time to trade Kerrigan?

In 2017 the Skins ranked 27th in defensive points allowed (this ranking eliminates points allowed by special teams and by the miscues committed by the offense). Over the proceeding 4 years the team ranked 18th, 19th, 29th, and 30th. During that time the team’s best defensive player, by a large margin, was Ryan Kerrigan.

In 2018, the team requires a major infusion of defensive talent if it hopes to make a quantum leap into the top half of the league’s defensive rankings. If Breeland and Brown depart in free agency (as it seems they will), the Redskins need to find two very good replacements just to match last year’s less than inspired performance.

The odds that Dunbar will be as good as Breeland in 2018 and that we find a draftee or another FA as good as Brown are rather slim.

We also have other holes to fill and should add two D linemen, an edge rusher, a safety and another ILB. Chances are good we will need another corner in 2019 to replace Norman, who is unlikely to be allowed to play out his contract.

The team can only add talent by “spending” some of its limited assets — that means draft choices or cap money — and there are very limited ways of gaining them.

One option is trading a player for a draft pick. I think it may be time to consider this with Ryan Kerrigan.

Now I love Kerrigan. He is a pro’s pro.

I don’t remember him ever dogging a play.

He answers the bell for every game.

He’s been productive, loyal and a wonderful mentor.

He’s made 3 Pro Bowls.

I get all that.

However, he is 30, and is now a time-sensitive asset. His production may already have begun to slip. While his sack totals remain high, the number of tackles he makes per year has slipped significantly.

During the first 5 years of his career he made between 54 and 66 tackles per year. Over the last 3 years the totals have dropped to 42, 33, and 46 tackles respectively.

Kerrigan is at the 3 fresh scoops of Italian Gelato atop a perfect waffle cone stage of his career. Still highly desirable. However, on a hot sunny day, every passing minute lessens the appeal, and if you don’t act fast, all you’re left with is a soggy cone.

The Skins aren’t going to the Super Bowl in the next 2 years and may not even sniff the playoffs. How much worse can the defense be the next 2 years without Kerrigan?

How much brighter can the team’s future be with the high draft pick that he would garner in a trade this off-season?

Is it time to trade him while he still has some value?

In addition to gaining a draft pick, trading him would free up significant cap dollars. His cap hits are $12.4m, $13.4m and $11.7m (non-guaranteed) over the next 3 years.

The Skins could use that money to reel in a 27 year old safety like LaMarcus Joyner or a 26 year old guard like Andrew Norwell or a 25 year old receiver like Jarvis Landry. These or other similar players will still be productive 3 to 5 years from now when the team may be in a better position to compete for the whole shebang.

Marblemike offers an interesting proposition by suggesting that the team should trade away its 2011 first-round draft pick.

I read Arrowhead Pride this week to see the fan reaction in the wake of the Alex Smith news. When the reports were unclear about who the “player to be named later” would be, the fans there were hoping for either Josh Norman or Ryan Kerrigan (not really thinking through the salary cap implications very clearly).

During the regular season, when I was responsible for the “5 questions with the enemy” Q&A, it became very clear, very quickly that Kerrigan was the most feared and respected member of the Redskins defense.

In short, he’s the one player on the team that is rated as highly by the opposition as he is by the team’s own fans.

Right now, Kerrigan could be parlayed into two good young players (one draft pick and one free agent) that can contribute to the team this season, and for years into the future.

Kerrigan may have two or three highly productive seasons left, at a cost of $12m per year.

Trading him for a high draft pick that could put a young player on the team for the next 4 seasons at a cost of $2m per year seems like a smart move. The money saved, as marblemike pointed out, could allow the Redskins to replace Kerrigan with both the draft pick, and a younger veteran free agent. That could be huge in terms of making the defense stronger for longer.

Roster building is a tricky and difficult tightrope to walk. Players aren’t machines, and if a franchise shows no loyalty to the players on the team, those players may not perform well — after all, if they’re simply mercenaries, then they’re just playing for a paycheck.

Still, the NFL is a business, and players like to win championships. If the front office can make the team a clearly better playoff-caliber team by pulling off a smart trade, there’s a good chance that the team will get behind it and welcome their new teammates with open arms.

I’m not sure how I feel about the suggestion to trade Ryan Kerrigan, but intellectually, at least, I can see the rational argument in terms of maximizing value.

Emotionally? The idea gives me heartburn.

Poll

If the Redskins traded Ryan Kerrigan on or before draft day, what kind of compensation (in terms of draft picks) should they expect?

This poll is closed

  • 50%
    At least one first round pick
    (655 votes)
  • 39%
    At least one second round pick
    (507 votes)
  • 8%
    No more than a third round pick
    (108 votes)
  • 1%
    He’s too old to garner much interest. One fourth round pick... maybe less
    (21 votes)
1291 votes total Vote Now

Poll

If you were offered a 2018 first round pick (say between #11 and #19 overall) for Ryan Kerrigan, would you pull the trigger on the trade?

This poll is closed

  • 39%
    Hell yeah!
    (502 votes)
  • 26%
    If I could get another pick added I’d certainly think about it and probably say yes.
    (335 votes)
  • 11%
    No, but I’d do it for a top-10 pick + a second pick.
    (149 votes)
  • 23%
    NO. TRADE. FOR. KERRIGAN. He stays a Redskin.
    (301 votes)
1287 votes total Vote Now