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Will Rivera change franchise history of no long-term contracts for tagged players?

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Against the odds

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San Francisco 49ers v Washington Redskins Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

NFL.com this week published an article that ranked the 15 men playing on the franchise tag this year in order of likelihood of playing for the same team in 2021. Dak Prescott was ranked the most likely to return, while Washington’s right guard, Brandon Scherff came in at #4 on the list.

Here’s what the article said about Scherff:

Scherff is one of the better Washington draft picks of the last decade, although his selection occurred a few decision-makers ago. The fact that he even was given the franchise tag despite failing to top 650 snaps the last two years shows his value when he’s healthy.

This view is in contrast to an article recently published by The Athletic entitled, “Reviewing Washington’s franchise-tag history: a legacy of, mostly, goodbyes”.

The article states that the Redskins have never signed a tagged player to a long-term deal. It says that, in total, nine players have received either the franchise or transition tag, and two players have been tagged twice.

The Redskins’s first franchise tag - Wilbur Marshall in 1993

The Athletic also offers what it calls “a good cocktail fact”, pointing out that Washington was the first franchise in the NFL to make use of the franchise tag. In 1993, GM Charley Casserly tagged Wilbur Marshall, who, in 1988 had come to the Redskins from the Bears in a blockbuster move that was almost unique in the NFL at that time. Marshall was unhappy about being tagged:

Marshall was entirely displeased with the arrangement, as he wanted to test the open market. So a week after receiving the tag, he became the first player to fight the tag when he filed a memorandum in federal court to remove the designation. The federal judge rejected the claim, but Marshall filed an appeal....

Phoenix Cardinals v Washington Redskins Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

As the court proceedings went on, Washington attempted to trade Marshall, and in particular, had its eyes on the Houston Oilers as a trade partner. They were being coached by Marshall’s former defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan. Ryan advocated hard for his former player, and in late March, the teams had an agreement in place: Washington would receive a first-round pick from Houston in exchange for Marshall. There was a significant hold-up, though. Marshall wanted to be paid $3 million annually, and that would’ve caused friction in Houston.

The entire affair got twisted into legal knots along the way, but in the end, Marshall ended up playing in Houston in ‘93.

The other players tagged by the franchise in the years since are listed here:

  • CB Tom Carter, 1994 (transition)
  • K Chip Lohmiller, 1995 (transition)
  • DT Sean Gilbert, 1997 & 1998
  • CB Champ Bailey, 2004
  • TE Fred Davis, 2012
  • OLB Brian Orakpo, 2014
  • QB Kirk Cousins, 2016 and 2017 (exclusive)

2020 Brandon Scherff

This season, of course, saw the team use the tag on its former 2015 first round pick and 5th overall selection Brandon Scherff. At the time, Scherff was saying publicly that he was interested a long-term deal with the Redskins. He told the media on cleanout day last December that he wanted to stay with the team that drafted him; however, it was reported last September that Scherff had turned down an offer that would have averaged more than $13 million a year.

Philadelphia’s Brandon Brooks, who is out for the 2020 season with a serious injury, is currently the highest-paid guard on a long-term contract in the NFL. He has a four-year, $56.35 million contract that he signed late last season.

When it comes to one-year deals, New England’s Joe Thuney is getting $14.7m for the 2020 season. Brandon Scherff has the highest paycheck for an interior lineman this year, earning just over $15m on the tag. A 20% increase in the tag for 2021 means a projected paycheck of around $18m, which sets a high starting point for any long-term contract negotiations.

Here’s the analysis offered by The Athletic of what it all means for Scherff and his desires to finish his career in Washington:

Although he has missed a combined 13 games the last two seasons, the former fifth-overall pick is a three-time Pro Bowl selection and widely considered one of the best guards in the league, as well as one of the best players on the team. After former seven-time Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams was traded to the San Francisco 49ers in April ahead of the 2020 NFL Draft, the burgundy and gold had even more incentive to retain Scherff’s services as a stalwart of the offensive line unit and team.

Detroit Lions v Washington Redskins Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

At 28, Scherff should still have several years ahead of him. He’s someone that people around the team have said current offensive line coach John Matsko would enjoy working with because of his noted strong work ethic and constant drive to get better. It remains to be seen if the former fifth-overall pick will make history as the first player in franchise history to net a long-term deal after being franchise tagged. Still, for now, it appears those conversations won’t be heating up again until the conclusion of the 2020 season.

Poll

What will happen with Brandon Scherff at the end of the 2020 season?

This poll is closed

  • 48%
    He will sign a long-term contract with the team that drafted him, as he has said he wants to do.
    (263 votes)
  • 4%
    The team will tag him again.
    (23 votes)
  • 47%
    Scherff will be finished here; he will be playing for a different team in 2021.
    (258 votes)
544 votes total Vote Now