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It’s time for some extensions

Contract extensions, that is

Carolina Panthers v Washington Football Team Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Washington has now made it through the first round of free agency, picking up Curtis Samuel and William Jackson III, among others, as well as the 2021 draft, adding 11 additional rookies to the roster. They’ve made big additions in the second round of free agency as well, getting apparent bargains on Charles Leno - which allowed the team to release Morgan Moses - and Bobby McCain, who should help bolster the secondary.

With Moses’ release, and the freeing up of around $7.75M in cap space, Washington’s effective cap space now stands at $17.6M, which is 4th highest in the league, behind only Jacksonville, Cleveland, and Indianapolis.

It’s time for the team to focus on locking up its own talent for the next several years. The players below would be my priority.

Jonathan Allen

While Allen is being paid just over $10M this year, on the 5th year option of his rookie deal, he’s likely to get significantly more in his next contract. However, he’s probably the only one of this group of players whose deal could be restructured, with an extension, to actually save the team some cap money this year (by pushing salary/bonuses out into future years). Given the team’s current cap situation, that doesn’t really appear to be necessary though.

Allen has been a warrior, and it’s entirely apparent that he’s one of Ron Rivera’s favorite players on the team. His attitude, his upbringing, and the leadership he brings to the defense are exactly what Rivera looks for in his prototypical players.

Washington has some difficult decisions to make on its defensive line in the coming years, but this isn’t one of them. For the past three years, Allen has been both healthy and effective, and he’ll be 26 rolling into his 5th season. I’d extend him for 4 years, guaranteeing the next 2, at a rate of around $14-15M/year. That would put him in the top 10 interior defensive linemen in the league, and keep him under team control one year beyond Chase Young’s rookie deal.

Logan Thomas

Thomas is getting $3.6M in the second year of his two-year deal, but will be a free agent in 2022 unless he’s extended. Thomas got my attention early on after his signing last offseason, and I wrote the following comments about his contract:

To me, this feels an awful lot like last year’s deal with Ereck Flowers (without quite as much hand-wringing), where the team has at least some confidence that they can extract from the player a level of performance that makes outside observers look back a year later and ask, “What did they see that the rest of us missed?”

I’m incredibly pleased that they offered Thomas a multi-year deal (with a bit of an escape ramp) so that we don’t find ourselves having to make a potentially difficult decision about him next offseason.

In hindsight, the 2-year deal was a brilliant move by the team, locking Thomas in at a very reasonable salary after his break-out season. Now, I only wish they had signed him to a 3 or 4 year deal. No mind, there’s still time this offseason to rectify that, though it’s going to be more expensive. I’d like to see the team guarantee his salary for the next 2 years, and offer him a 2-year extension in the $6-7M range per year. If they could make that happen, it would be great value.

Tim Settle

Settle, drafted in the 5th round in 2018, alongside Daron Payne, is in the final year of his rookie deal. He’ll receive just under $1M in 2021 for his services.

On perhaps the best defensive line in the league - with a starting corps composed entirely of first round picks - it’s easy to understand why Tim Settle is so overlooked. Against backdrop of Young, Sweat, Payne, Allen, and Ioannidis, Settle probably has been the “least productive” of the group. But “productivity” is highly relative in this case, and Settle has done well to make the most of his limited playing time. In 33% of defensive snaps last year (his highest so far), Settle collected 5 sacks, 5 TFLs, and 7 QB hits. As a comparison, Payne played 84% of defensive snaps last year and had 3 sacks, 7 TFLs, and 8 QB hits.

In many ways, Settle is painfully under-appreciated, and represents incredible value. Extending him for 2-3 years at $5-6M/year would be a great investment, and allows the team flexibility in its defensive line configuration going forward.

Cornelius Lucas

Lucas, who could very well end up taking Morgan Moses’ spot as the starting right tackle in 2021, is being paid a meager $2M this year. I’ve been arguing for several months now, against some fairly insistent doubters, that Lucas deserves more respect than he’s gotten from Washington’s fan base. When Charles Leno was signed, many thought that was bad news for Lucas’ future. In fact, it turned out to be the beginning of the end for Moses, and an opportunity for Lucas to compete on the right side, which seems to be his more natural spot.

The team has followed my pre-draft advice thus far:

I’d never advocate against drafting a tackle (or two), but I just don’t think it rises to the level of a top priority, and given that we don’t need - and probably aren’t in a position to get, even if we did need - a day 1 starter at left tackle, I think it makes sense to keep our first round powder dry for higher positions of need, and to focus heavily on targeting a tackle who could use a year or two of seasoning on the bench during Day 2 of the draft.

Here’s hoping they continue to do so:

I’m not only content sticking with Lucas, I think it would make sense to extend him this offseason, to wrap him up for a few more years (he’ll be 30 by the time the season rolls around).

My recommendation on a deal for Lucas would be a 2-year extension in the range of $4-5M/year, guaranteeing his salary over the next 2 years.

Poll

Besides Jon Allen, which player would be your priority to extend this offseason?

This poll is closed

  • 43%
    Logan Thomas
    (799 votes)
  • 24%
    Tim Settle
    (445 votes)
  • 2%
    JD McKissic
    (44 votes)
  • 5%
    Cornelius Lucas
    (100 votes)
  • 20%
    Brandon Scherff
    (373 votes)
  • 2%
    I don't want to extend Allen
    (47 votes)
  • 2%
    Someone else, who I will mention in the comments.
    (39 votes)
1847 votes total Vote Now