SNIDER: Redskins must keep Brandon Scherff

Rick Snider
February 27, 2020 - 2:59 pm

The Redskins must re-sign guard Brandon Scherff. Whether using the franchise tag or simply offering a contract extension, a troubled offensive line can't lose its best player.

NFL teams have until March 12 to issue franchise tags, but it should never be the first negotiating tool. (See Cousins, Kirk, two years.) Former Redskins president Bruce Allen botched talks by strong arming the passer and in the end overpaid and saw Cousins leave with no compensation to the team. Washington lost a franchise quarterback because it misplayed the franchise tag.

Free agency is about two things for players. Mostly, it's about who pays them top money. Occasionally, it's about either getting away from a team or playing somewhere they'd like more. But mostly, it's about money.

Scherff is looking for $15 million annually as the league's highest-paid guard. Quality offensive linemen don't come loose very often and guards are as valuable as offensive tackles. Scherff will find someone willing to pay a lofty price.

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The Redskins can't afford to lose Scherff. Whether holdout tackle Trent Williams returns looks iffy, and at age 32, doesn't have much longer.

The Redskins might need to spend a high pick in the next two years for his replacement. Tackle Morgan Moses just isn't as good as the Redskins hoped. He's durable, but also good for one holding penalty per game. Center Chase Roullier is steady, but the team should try to upgrade there. Left guard Ereck Flowers was surprisingly good as a free agent last year.

If Washington believes Dwayne Haskins is its long-term quarterback, it needs to surround him with a quality line to avoid injuries and provide more time to complete passes. Haskins isn't good enough to overcome a mediocre line.

Scherff has some leverage. But then, let's not oversell his value. He has missed 15 games over three years with injuries, including five last season. His sole Pro Bowl was 2016. Still, a heathy Scherff is a pretty good run blocker with great mobility.

The fifth overall pick in 2015 by then general manager Scot McCloughan, Scherff was supposed to be a tackle, but lacks the horizontal speed to handle outside rushers. The same thing is true with Flowers, who was taken by the New York Giants four picks after Scherff. Both players are much better inside.

There can't be holes in an offensive line and both Scherff and Flowers are free agents. The team lacks draft picks to find a quick replacement and there's not another free agent guard as good as Scherff. That means paying him even if needing to overpay.

Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @Snide_Remarks