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Trading players: who should the Redskins try to trade away during training camp?

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Something is better than nothing, so they say... should the Redskins try to get value for players that they know aren’t going to make the regular season roster?

NFL: Washington Redskins at Chicago Bears Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Around the time of the 3rd preseason game, there will be a small flurry of trades among NFL teams, as franchises try to bolster roster depth, cover for injuries, and get some value for players who are unlikely to survive the roster cut.

The principle at play for the franchise front office is usually this: if you’re gonna cut a player anyway, you might as well try to get some value back for him, and a low round draft pick is better than nothing at all.

Occasionally two teams swap players, but more often it’s a player for a draft pick.

Given that the player being traded away is available because he is unlikely to survive the roster cut, the question that usually arises is: Why would another team give up anything at all to trade for him? Why not just wait and sign him after he’s cut?

The answer is simply, control and certainty. The team that trades for the player doesn’t have to compete with other teams for his services (whether via waiver wire or unrestricted free agency). By trading, they secure control over the player. Also, the player comes with a contract attached; there is no need to negotiate a new one. Of course, this is only an advantage if the player is on a contract that offers good value to the acquiring team.

This led me to start thinking about the Redskins roster, and wondering if the team has any players that are likely to offer good trade material in mid-to-late August.

What kind of players get traded in August?

Really, any player can be traded, and some general managers pull of blockbuster trades just ahead of the start of the regular season, but these are not the typical late-preseason trades.

The bulk of trades that happen in August do not involve stars or starters. Unless there’s an unusual situation — right now, Earl Thomas, the Seattle safety might provide an example — starting players are locked in, and the team is counting on them for the season. The other obvious exception in recent years has been at the quarterback position, where starter-quality players have been traded just prior to the regular season as a result of catastrophic injury to another team’s starter. I don’t think either of these unusual situations apply to the Redskins right now (though the Su’a Cravens situation last year had that kind of potential).

Teams also don’t normally waste much effort making August trades for special-teams only/depth players. The waiver wire is flooded with those guys on the Friday following the final preseason game. There’s no reason to give up a draft pick for Just A Guy.

The late-preseason trades tend to revolve around players who have the skill to take snaps on offense or defense — guys who are NFL quality players, but who are going to be beaten out by better players on their current team. There’s room for them on another team’s roster, and there is likely to be enough competition for the player’s services that the acquiring team is willing to give up a bit of draft capital to acquire them.

Do the Redskins have any candidates for August trades?

To identify players that the Redskins might trade away, we are looking for a position group that has an abundance of players who are at least backup-quality players on offense or defense.

This list can be dramatically altered by a training camp injury, but sitting here at my computer in mid-July, I see a few position groups where the Redskins might have players available.

First, let me eliminate a lot of position groups that won’t have players ‘on the bubble’ who are talented enough to trigger interest in an August trade:

OL, WR, TE, QB, OLB, CB, S

That leaves only a few position groups that offer trade possibilities:

RB, DL, ILB

Let’s look at these one-by-one to see what trade possibilities might exist, and take a guess at the kind of value the Redskins might be able to get in return.

Running back

Roster locks: Derrius Guice, Chris Thompson

Remaining quality runnning backs who may have trade potential:

Samaje Perine - A 4th round draft pick just a year ago, Perine appeared in 13 games, rushing 175 times for 603 yards and a touchdown. While his 3.4 yards per carry average won’t turn any heads, a general manager that liked Perine coming out of college might give him the benefit of the doubt for running behind an offensive line decimated by injury, as well as his rookie-year adjustment to running out of an I-formation. Perine had back-to-back 100-yard games in Weeks 11 & 12, and he was the all-time leading rusher at Oklahoma, which is a pretty impressive pedigree. He holds the record for the most rushing yard in a single game for the highest level of college ball. It’s not impossible that another team would give up a draft pick to acquire the bruising running back and his 3 remaining contract years. Trade value estimate: Conditional 5th round to 7th.

Rob Kelley - An undrafted free agent with 2 years on the Redskins roster, Kelley was only healthy enough to appear in 7 games last season. With less than 900 total rushing yards in two seasons, and unimpressive measurables, I wouldn’t expect a lot of interest in Kelley from the other 31 teams, who are likely to see him as little more than a serviceable backup. Trade value estimate: Conditional 6th, pick swap or conditional 7th.

Kapri Bibbs and Byron Marshall - both of these players were signed from other teams’ practice squads in 2018, meaning that they were free for the asking during the regular season last year. While both of them have a shot at making the Redskin roster as a 4th running back, it’s hard to imagine other teams seeing enough value in either player to give up draft picks to acquire them. Trade value estimate: nil

Running back summary

The Redskins are likely to have a number of players (Perine, Kelley, Bibbs, Byron Marshall, Keith Marshall, Martez Carter) competing for 1 or 2 roster spots. If Kelley and Perine — the two RBs with potential trade value — are seen as being clearly superior to the others, then the front office should simply keep them without worrying about a RB trade.

If, however, the staff sees very little difference between the top 3 or 4 backs in the ‘bubble’’ group, or if the backup RBs are likely to be players other than Kelley or Perine, then the opportunity to trade a player might be attractive. The player likely to bring the best value is Samaje Perine. Unless he clearly outperforms all the other backs in competition to be Guice’s backup, I’d suggest that the Redskins shop him following the third preseason game.

Defensive Line

Roster locks: Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne, Matt Ioannidis,

Remaining quality defensive linemen who may have trade potential:

Stacey McGee - The veteran defensive end is a competent player with 4 years left on his contract at around $5m per season. He would probably attract some interest from other teams. My issue is that I believe the Redskins see him as an integral veteran member of the DL rotation. I think they want him here. Trade value estimate: 5th to 7th round.

Ziggy Hood - Hood has the reputation of being a hard worker and setting the right kind of example for younger players. He has struggled in his two seasons with the Redskins, but for most of those two years he was playing out of position at NT/DT rather than DE. This year, it looks like the Redskins have the talent to put some big bodies in the middle of the line. Unfortunately for Ziggy, the numbers may not work. With 5 players competing for what is likely to be 3 roster spots, one or two quality players are likely not to make the cut. In my opinion, Ziggy Hood, who is a good player, and a locker room leader with a great attitude, is likely to be the odd man out. He’s got one year left on his contract at $1.7m. Trade value estimate: 5th to 7th round.

Anthony Lanier - Lanier has played in 15 games for the Redskins since first appearing on the active roster in 2016. The undrafted free agent is used primarily as an interior pass rusher, and is becoming more and more valuable as part of the DL rotation. He’s in the final year of his contract, earning $632,000, which represents excellent value for the Redskins. I doubt he would garner much interest from other teams, and he offers cheap rotational DL talent for Jim Tomsula. Trade value estimate: a ham sandwich.

Tim Settle - Having just spent a 5th round draft pick on Settle, it’s almost inconceivable that the Redskins would trade him. Settle either plays well enough to make the 53-man roster, or stinks it up enough to kill any trade value he might have had. Settle simply isn’t going to be traded in 2018.

Phil Taylor - I think that for Taylor, his only real options are to make the Redskins 53-man roster or retire. His injury history eliminates him as a candidate for an August trade.

Defensive line summary

It appears that Ziggy Hood will be the odd man out when all is said and done this preseason. Hood is a competent DE, has an outstanding work ethic and a good reputation around the league. He is good enough to play in the DL rotation for most NFL teams. Absent any significant injuries to the current DL group, the Redskins should almost certainly be trying to trade Ziggy before the last preseason game.

Inside Linebacker

Roster locks: Zach Brown, Mason Foster

Remaining quality defensive linemen who may have trade potential:

Martrell Spaight - The Redskins are likely to have 4 players competing for 2 spots. Spaight has played pretty well for a 5th round draft pick, but he will be in a dogfight to hold onto his roster spot this season. He plays special teams, and has 3 years’ experience with the team, meaning that it would be a tough decision to cut him, but he seems to be ‘on the bubble’ with three other players. He has only one year left on his contract. Trade value estimate: Conditional 6th to 7th round.

Zach Vigil - Vigil has been a marginal player who has been released by three different teams (including the Redskins) at one time or another in his 3 years in the NFL. He is a solid contributor for the Redskins, but may find himself squeezed off of the roster in this competition with three Redskin draft picks from the ‘15, ‘17, and ‘18 drafts. Trade value estimate: nil

Josh Harvey-Clemons - JH-C has excellent measurables at 6’4”, 226 pounds and 24 years old. He played well in limited duty last season and played extremely well on special teams. He may be the ‘safest’ of the four players competing for the two backup ILB positions, but he might also garner some trade interest from other teams. Trade value estimate: Conditional 6th to 7th.

Shaun Dion Hamilton - Having just been selected in the 6th round of April’s draft, the Alabama linebacker nevertheless is not a lock to make the roster. He is part of a 4-way fight for two backup ILB spots on the roster, and as a rookie, he has to beat out at least two veterans who have contributed to the team in previous seasons. While SDH could potentially end up on the Practice Squad, IR or another team’s roster, it’s difficult to envision a scenario where the team trades him in August. Like Settle on the DL, this recent draft pick isn’t going to be traded prior to the regular season.

Inside Linebacker summary

It’s anybody’s guess which two players will make the final roster as backup Inside Linebackers, but it’s almost certain that two of the four ‘bubble’ players will fail to make the final roster cut.

Only two of them appear to have August trade value — Martrell Spaight and Josh Harvey Clemons. If the coaches thought that either (or both) of these players was unlikely to make the regular season roster, then it would be advantageous for the front office to try to trade one or both of them for draft picks.

Poll

Which running back should the Redskins try to trade in August?

This poll is closed

  • 20%
    Samaje Perine
    (392 votes)
  • 59%
    Rob Kelley
    (1131 votes)
  • 4%
    a different RB
    (92 votes)
  • 15%
    don’t try to trade any of them
    (292 votes)
1907 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Which defensive lineman should the Redskins try to trade this August?

This poll is closed

  • 36%
    Stacey McGee
    (631 votes)
  • 43%
    Ziggy Hood
    (764 votes)
  • 3%
    a different defensive lineman
    (54 votes)
  • 17%
    don’t try to trade any of them
    (299 votes)
1748 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Which inside linebacker should the Redskins try to trade this August?

This poll is closed

  • 43%
    Martrell Spaight
    (735 votes)
  • 14%
    Josh Harvey-Clemons
    (253 votes)
  • 10%
    a different inside linebacker
    (180 votes)
  • 31%
    don’t try to trade any of them
    (528 votes)
1696 votes total Vote Now