Who’s Coming Back: Safeties

Previously:  Defensive TacklesDefensive EndsInside Linebackers, Cornerbacks

This is the last part of a series in which I list who will make our 53-man roster next year. Having watched and charted almost every snap this season I feel somewhat qualified to blog an amateur opinion on the matter. Today’s position group is Safeties.

Washington kept four Safeties on their roster so that’s the number I’m assuming we will keep for next year.

Holy Lock To Come Back Next Year:

Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images

DJ: He’s willing to make linebacker fills versus the run, has the range to play deep safety and is able to rob underneath routes. Man to man coverage is the one gadget missing from his toolkit.

Montae Nicholson: Wowed immediately with his range as a deep safety but was not prepared for most of the season to play in the box or in man coverage, which put DJ in a compromised position as the man-coverage safety.

When we tried to use Nicholson in man coverage he looked clumsy:

He went on concussion protocol after the Saints game and wasn’t able to iron out that issue.  If he can get it fixed by next season the starting FS job is his.

Will Most Likely Return Next Year:

Everett: Plays a press technique over Tight Ends which puts him in the trenches versus the run and keeps DJ out of man coverage:

Everett is a restricted FA this offseason.  PFF ranks him as the 73rd best safety in the NFL and the equivalently ranked contract pays $1.1 million per year which is about double what we could pay a rookie.  However, Everett has been serviceable in man coverage and his willingness to play in the box keeps DJ as the deep safety which helps to hide his flaws.  I would expect us to shell out the cash to keep Everett if it averages within the $1-2 million per year range.

50/50:

Cravens:  I’m throwing him in this category because I have no idea what is going on here. I’m not sure if he can get another chance or if he even wants one.  He is scheduled to make $1.2 million next year and if he was to be let go under normal circumstances he would count $700,000 against the cap.

Best of Luck In Your Future Endeavors:

DHall:  Takes horrible angles to the ball, lacks the speed required to play in the NFL, most coverage busts over the last two years have come with him on the field. Reputed to be a nice guy and has a cool beard.

Fish Smithson: Practice squad guy.  Gruden mentioned him as an option at safety in a recent press conference, but if he couldn’t pass DHall on the depth chart then there is a serious deficiency somewhere.  The only thing DHall could have had over him is knowing the calls.  Smithson is probably due for an Adderall infused offseason of digesting the playbook.

Who’s Coming Back: Cornerbacks

Previously:  Defensive TacklesDefensive Ends, Inside Linebackers

This is the fourth part of a series in which I list who will make our 53-man roster next year. Having watched and charted almost every snap this season I feel somewhat qualified to blog an amateur opinion on the matter. Today’s position group is Cornerbacks.

Washington kept six Cornerbacks on their roster this season so that’s the number I’m assuming we will keep for next year.

Holy Lock To Come Back Next Year:

Josh Norman: I’m going out on a limb with this one you guys.  He’ll be our highest paid player in 2018 and deservedly so.  Can play any Corner position.

Kendall Fuller: The ninth ranked Cornerback in the NFL according to PFF is slated to make just $827,000 next year.  Currently plays in the slot against 11 personnel but can also play Safety if needed.  Blows up any and all WR screens and can take away the deep throw.  He’s a do it all shut down Corner.

Will Most Likely Return Next Year:

Quinton Dunbar: Splits time with Breeland as the outside CB opposite Norman.  Has the speed and confidence to press WRs at the line and play trail technique on deep routes:

His aggressive style disrupts routes enough that QBs tend to come off and look elsewhere.  Horrible at stopping the run, possibly the worst on the team.  He was a developmental prospect that now has the skills to play Cover 2 flat and Cover 3 press-and-trail technique.

He is at the end of his rookie contract and made less than half of what Breeland did even though PFF has him ranked 23 spots higher as the 34th overall CB.

Fabian Moreau: Backup outside CB.  The third round rookie is slated to make under $800,000 next season.

50/50:

Joshua Holsey: A seventh round rookie who backs up Fuller in the slot.  He could be replaced with an offseason acquisition or he could start as our Nickel CB if we move Fuller outside; both moves would make sense.  He is set to make $575,000 in 2018.

Bashaud Breeland: Made his name off of Dez Bryant and was one of the hottest young Corners until he ran into Antonio Brown.  Since then he’s been ok to good but not Shutdown level.  Doesn’t possess the fastest straight line speed and plays with a big cushion in Cover 3 because of it.  His technique is the polar opposite of Dunbar’s and QBs tend to throw his way often.  He has the ability to come off of his receiver and rob routes.  Not a good run defender but will occasionally stick his nose there.

Breeland made $2 million this year and is due for a new contract.  He is ranked as the 57th overall Cornerback according to PFF and the 57th ranked contract for CBs is $2.2 million (Bradley Roby) so I would expect a fair deal for 2018 to be in the ballpark of $2-2.5 million.  How they negotiate past that will decide whether or not he comes back.

FFODC Looks at Resigning Zach Brown

Most people who follow the Skins are saying the number one priority for the defense is to resign Zach Brown.  But what would that contract look like?

In order to get a better idea of what we should pay Brown I looked at two parameters:

  • What Brown’s peers in ‘on the field production’ are being paid.  I defined ‘on the field production’ by Tackles and PFF grades.
  • The current top 10 contracts for Inside Linebackers.

(All salary figures come from Over The Cap.)

Projected Salary Based off On The Field Production in 2017:

It’s not too hard to figure out that the Skins will be paying Brown to stop the run.  Inside runs, outside runs, quarterback scrambles, whatever the run we will want him to track it down.

A statistic people bring up when referencing Brown’s run defense is his NFL lead in tackles.  It’s not the strongest indicator of success but if you want to reference the tackling metric, here is what the top 5 looks like:

  1. Zach Brown (6th year)
  2. Joe Schobert (2nd year)
  3. Bobby Wagner (6th year)
  4. Blake Martinez (2nd year)
  5. C.J. Mosley (4th year)

From that list only Zach Brown and Bobby Wagner are under non-rookie contracts.  Rookie contracts tell us nothing about Brown’s value on the market but their are two contracts on that list we could use to see what a veteran linebacker leading the NFL in tackles should get paid.

The first, obviously, is Bobby Wagner who has two years left on his contract and the second is CJ Mosely whom the Ravens picked up a 5th year option on for 2018.  Their cap numbers are as follows,

  • C.J. Mosely: His 2018 cap number is $8.7 million, not under contract for 2019.
  • Bobby Wagner: His 2018 cap number is $13.6 million, his 2019 cap number is $14.1 million, not under contract for 2020.

Wagner’s 2018 salary will rank first and Mosely’s would rank ninth.  Averaging the two gives us around $11 million, good enough for the fourth highest contract in 2018.  Because Mosely’s contract only hits veteran status in 2018, these two contracts together can really only tell us what Brown could ask for if he was to get a short term 1-2 year deal.

To get an idea of what a longer term deal would look like we would need to look at PFF’s Linebacker grades.  PFF looks at each play and gives us a better idea of on the field production compared to the generic ‘tackling’ metric.  Unfortunately they have not posted a public list of their top Inside Linebackers but they have tweeted out their top four Linebackers through 12 weeks of play:

If I’m assuming our expectation for Brown is to be a top tier run stopper then this metric is a good reference since you wouldn’t be a top tier Linebacker if you weren’t also a top tier run stopper.  I do think these yearly numbers will be higher than what Brown should expect since these guys have also shown the ability to defend against the pass, and that is an area Brown has struggled in.

Contracts for the players in the pic above:

  1. Bobby Wagner:  4 years $43 million, $22 million guaranteed ($10.75 million per year.)
  2. Lavonte David: 5 years $50.2 million, $10.7 million guaranteed ($10 million per year.)
  3. Luke Kuechly: 5 years $61.8 million, $34 million guaranteed ($12.4 million per year.)
  4. Telvin Smith: 5 years $44.4 million, $15.5 million guaranteed (~$9 million per year.)

The contract value for a top graded Linebacker this season is 4-5 years at around $10 million per year, with 20-50% of that money guaranteed.

To recap, based off of production:

  • A short term 1-2 year deal would be about $11 million per year.
  • A long term 4-5 year contract would be about $10 million per year, with up to 50% of that guaranteed.

Projected Salary Based off Current Contracts:

If we do away with Brown’s contemporaries in production and just look at the current top 10 salaries for ILBs:

we get an average of $8.3 million per year with around $3 million of that guaranteed.  Over the course of 5 years that would be $40 million with $12 million guaranteed.

What Should Brown Get Paid?

The last thing left to factor in is the expected cap increase which is about 7% each year.  So adding 7% to the numbers listed above gives us,

If it’s a short term deal:  If we assume Brown is getting a short term 1-2 year deal then we are looking at ~$12 million per year.

If it’s a long term deal:  If we assume Brown gets a longer term deal, let’s say a five year contract (which is what three out of the top four LBs were given) and factor in the 7% increase, then Brown would stand to receive:

  • Lowest possible deal (Posluszny’s base, Johnson’s bonus percentage): years $26.25 million, $5 million guaranteed ($5.25 million/year.)
  • “Average” deal: 5 years $42.5 million, $15-20 million guaranteed ($8.5 million/year.)
  • Highest possible deal (Kuechly’s base, Trevathan’s bonus percentage): 5 years $65 million, $31 million guaranteed ($13 million/year.)

The highest possible deal looks to be reserved for a more complete all-around linebacker, while the lowest possible deal would be a slap in the face.

We have four guys slated to make over 10 million in 2018–five when Kirk gets resigned–and most teams tend to keep a maximum of five guys on their roster with salaries over 10 million per year.  It’s tough to see a scenario where we make Brown, whose shown to be a liability in coverage, the sixth.

Final Verdict: Anything close to an “average” deal (average of top tier contracts) and both sides come out looking good; this here blog expects 4-5 years at $8.5 million per year with close to half of that in guarantees.