The 5 o’clock club is published several times per week 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.
Brandon Brooks of the Eagles just signed a significant extension; his reported $56.2m, 4-year extension would be an APY of $14.05m.
Eagles Signed G Brandon Brooks To Four-Year, $56.2M Extension https://t.co/aPH4fYZf8C #Eagles pic.twitter.com/Jt57i9peg3— NFLTradeRumors.co (@nfltrade_rumors) November 12, 2019
The salaries on veteran contracts for talented offensive guards have exploded in the past year or two. The top guards in the league measured by APY are, according to OverTheCap:
- Zach Martin, Cowboys $14.0m
- Andrew Norwell, Jaguars $13.3m
- Kevin Zeitler, Giants $12.0m
- Trai Turner, Panthers $$11.25m
- Roger Saffold, Titans $11.0m
- Gabe Jackson, Raiders $11m
- Ali Marpet, Buccaneers $10.85m
These players would represent a shade over 10% of all the starting offensive guards in the NFL. That number would increase a bit if we remove starters who are on their rookie contracts.
The Redskins have two starting offensive guards who were drafted in the first round of the 2015 draft. Brandon Scherff was picked 5th overall by the Redskins and Ereck Flowers was taken 9th overall by the Giants.
They have taken very different paths, but they have arrived at the same point — each playing for the Redskins; each currently looking at free agency in 2020.
The Redskins also invested a pair of 2019 draft picks in shoring up the interior of their offensive line. Wes Martin was drafted in the 4th round out of Indiana, and, at the time, was expected to be a ‘project’ who would likely need a year to become a legitimate NFL lineman. Ross Pierschbacher was drafted in the 5th round out of Alabama, where he primarily played guard, but also spent a season at center. These two players should provide some depth at the very least, and one or both could step up as replacements for the current starters if they leave in free agency at the end of the ‘19 season.
It seems reasonable to expect Flowers to return to Washington. He was discarded by the Giants and seemed to be struggling to get a chance with anyone else in 2019. The Redskins gave him a reasonable contract with some guaranteed money, put him to work with Bill Callahan, and Flowers has responded well; in fact, many people have said that he has been the best of the offensive linemen this year.
Scherff seems to be more problematic. Despite saying in a recent interview that he would like to remain with the Redskins, there have been reports that Scherff has rejected an offer from Washington. This could mean that he doesn’t want to stay with the franchise, or it might mean that the two sides simply haven’t reached the right number yet. Complicating matters is that, after playing at an extremely high level for four season, Scherff has had an inconsistent season so far in 2019. That might make the Redskins less confident about paying him top dollar, and it might also cause other teams to hesitate as well.
The Brandon Brooks contract probably brings into sharper relief the amount of money it will likely take to retain Brandon Scherff if he isn’t committed to getting out of Washington. The floor would seem to be around $14m — and idea supported by reports that the earlier offer he rejected from the Redskins was around $13m per year. The ceiling is likely around $15m per year, with a contract likely to be something like $58m for 4 years — which would make him the highest paid guard in the league, but still in the neighborhood of Brooks and Martin.
My best guess at what it would take to retain Ereck Flowers is a relatively shorter term contract (say, 3 years) that would give him another chance at free agency. I’m thinking he can be signed for something in the $9-10m per year range, but that’s basically a guess on my part. I’m thinking that it’ll take something like 2 years, $18m or 3 years, $30m to get him re-signed in DC.
The Redskins had an overall cap of around $194m to spend in 2019. The 2020 number is likely to be in the neighborhood of $205m, though that may increase with some cap relief from things like the Trent Williams contract savings from 2019 or the Alex Smith insurance policy. In any event, $205m seems like a decent “working number” for the purposes of this article.
If the Redskins paid Scherff & Flowers $14.5 + $9.5m, they would be committing $24m to the starting guard position, or around 11.7% of the total salary cap, and they would be committed to that pair for at least a couple of years. I haven’t checked, but this would likely be the most expensive set of offensive guards in the league.
There are a limited number of options for filling the two starting guard positions in 2020 — remembering that the team will have a new head coach for certain, and could possibly see new offensive system or a new GM (or all of the above).
- The Redskins could re-sign one or both players (Scherff and Flowers)
- The Redskins could let one or both walk, relying on current rostered players (ie. Martin or Pierschbacher) as replacements
- The Redskins could look to veteran free agency for replacements — in effect, paying another team’s veteran instead of our own
- The Redskins could draft replacement(s). Remember that the team has a first round pick that many have already targeted at LT to replace Trent Williams, and the 2020 second round pick is currently playing on defense and wearing #90. The earliest the team is likely to be able to draft an offensive guard is the 3rd round, but that would mean they aren’t drafting a TE, CB, or WR instead.
What do you see as the best outcome for the Redskins regarding Brandon Scherff?
This poll is closed
Re-sign him at a market price of around $14.5m per year
Franchise tag him to keep him for a year; let the new coach have a say on his long-term future
Let him walk in free agency and replace him with Martin or Pierschbacher
Let him walk in free agency and replace him with a cheaper veteran free agent from another team
Let him walk in free agency and draft a replacement, probably between the 3rd and 5th round
What do you see as the best outcome for the Redskins regarding Ereck Flowers?
This poll is closed
Re-sign him at a market price of between $8 and $10m
Replace him with Martin or Pierschbacher
Replace him with a veteran free agent from another team
Draft a replacement, probably between the 3rd and 5th round
Should the Redskins front office be willing to spend more than $20m per year (combined) to retain both Scherff and Flowers?
This poll is closed
No, but I’d say yes if the number was less than $18m per year (combined)