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Remaking the Redskins’ offensive line

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NFL: Preseason-Cincinnati Bengals at Washington Redskins Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Down 0-2 to begin the season, perhaps one of the biggest surprises so far for the Redskins has been that the left side of the offensive line (the aging Donald Penn and previously disastrous LT Ereck Flowers) has been outperforming the right side of the line (Brandon Scherff and Morgan Moses).

Runs to the left, behind Penn and Flowers, have been well within the acceptable range, while runs behind the right side, have been abysmal:

So far, according to the NFL’s logs, the Burgundy and Gold have had 11 runs to the left for 46 yards, which comes out to an average of 4.18 yards per carry. There have been 14 carries to the right, on the other hand, for just 27 yards, which comes out to an average of 1.92 yards per carry.

Ereck Flowers and Donald Penn, signed in March and July, respectively, played half a game together in the preseason. The pair is currently outperforming Brandon Scherff and Morgan Moses, who have played side by side since 2015. #HTTRhttps://t.co/UfiTW288ad

— Rhiannon Walker (@InstantRHIplay) September 17, 2019

There are still 14 more games to play, but it’s never too soon to start thinking about what the future holds.

Looking to 2020

Left Tackle

It’s well past time to jettison Trent Williams via trade. He clearly intends to do the bare minimum to accrue a season this year, and would much prefer not to be back with the Redskins at all. Some of us have been banging this drum for two months now, even as Bruce Allen has probably allowed our most favorable trade partner - the Texans - to move on to greener pastures, trading two first rounders and a second rounder for the slightly above average Laremy Tunsil and mediocre Kenny Stills. If we can manage to re-coup at least a first rounder from the Patriots, Broncos, or 49ers (who, it is rumored, the front office still refuses to trade with), we may be able to draft Trent’s replacement next year.

Donald Penn has certainly appeared serviceable, and if he can stay healthy, perhaps he’d be willing to stay on for one more year to tutor the rookie.

Left Guard

It’s only two games in, but perhaps the most pleasant surprise of the season for the team (closely matched by Keenum and McLaurin) has been the solid performance of Ereck Flowers at left guard. Flowers’ failings at tackle are legendary, but the reality is that he’s probably been either the top, or certainly one of the top two, offensive linemen so far this year. Let’s keep following that roadmap. Assuming Flowers continues to play well, the team should work to lock him up for a 2-3 year contract beyond 2019, providing the team some of the flexibility described below.

Center

Chase Roullier, the 2017 6th round pick out of Wyoming, has been the picture of consistency. He’s under contract through 2020, but the team would be wise to start discussing a contract extension with him after the 2019 season. He should be part of this team’s future.

Right Guard

Before the season began, I was on board with signing Scherff to a hefty contract (~$13M AAV) BEFORE THE SEASON, so that his contract wouldn’t become a distraction and we wouldn’t be locked in the “franchise tag” death cycle. As Trent’s hold out continued, I softened a bit, expressing a willingness to sign him up to $15M AAV. Well, the season began, Brandon hasn’t played particularly well, and I’ve taken my thinking in another direction altogether.

At this point, the 2020 franchise tag (~$15M AAV) becomes the floor of negotiations, with the price very realistically exceeding that. I don’t think that’s tenable for this team given the options on the table. The solid play of Flowers at left guard opens the possibility that 2019 draft pick, Wes Martin, could slide into the right guard position, and we would let Scherff walk. The added benefit of this approach is that Scherff would surely generate a third round compensatory pick. The caveat to this would be, if we could find a trade partner this season who would offer more for Scherff, as a partial season rental, we should consider it, giving Martin important regular season experience leading into 2020.

Right Tackle

Whereas Ereck Flowers has been a pleasant surprise on the line, Morgan Moses has been just the opposite. He has been a penalty factory and seems to be trying out a new role as chief instigator on the team, holding forth on the wisdom of personnel moves regularly. Moses is signed through 2022, so we’re likely tied to him for the foreseeable future, but it could become time to give Geron Christian some reps at the position sooner, rather than later.

Conclusion

Six months ago, it looked like the Redskins offensive line could be fairly static for the next 2 or 3 years, but things have changed now - dramatically. It’s entirely possible that at least 3, and perhaps 4, of the Redskins offensive linemen could change from 2018 to 2020.

Poll

Which of our offensive linemen do you think it is more important to retain in 2020 and beyond?

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    Donald Penn
    (14 votes)
  • 6%
    Trent Williams
    (50 votes)
  • 12%
    Ereck Flowers
    (88 votes)
  • 36%
    Chase Roullier
    (264 votes)
  • 41%
    Brandon Scherff
    (303 votes)
  • 1%
    Morgan Moses
    (8 votes)
727 votes total Vote Now