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Examining the offseason fate of 12 key Redskins players, coaches and executives

Examining the offseason fate of 12 key Redskins players, coaches and executives

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Redskins have one game remaining this season, but the decision-making process is already underway regarding the construction of the 2019 team, coaching staff and front office. Here are the biggest decisions that need to be made:

Players

Josh Johnson: The Redskins will need to sort out their quarterback situation, and will likely work under the assumption that Alex Smith will start the 2019 season on the Physically Unable to Perform list, meaning he will not count against Washington’s 53-man roster.

The Redskins are also likely to draft a quarterback, in an attempt to get younger and lock down the cost certainty of a rookie contract.

That leaves Colt McCoy and Johnson. McCoy is continuing to rehab in the hopes of playing Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles, but the Redskins might be wise to stick with Johnson for one more game, to see how high his potential ceiling is for 2019.

Redskins coach Jay Gruden has described Johnson as a player who has struggled in practices, but delivers in games. That’s not ideal for training camp, but Johnson’s performance, and his ability to rally his teammates amid a four-game losing streak, mean he’s deserving of a training camp invite.

The most logical outcome is probably to keep McCoy, Johnson and the rookie, and have a roster with three quarterbacks next year.

Adrian Peterson: The running back revived his career in 2018, going from being without a team to rushing for 1,000 yards with the Redskins.

Washington has Derrius Guice returning from his torn ACL next year, but that’s often referred to as a two-year injury, with players not truly regaining their form and explosiveness in their first year back.

Because of that, Washington would be wise to keep Peterson around for another year. However, he may attempt to join a team where he would be the undisputed starter.

The secondary: Josh Norman’s contract becomes voidable from a salary cap perspective, and the Redskins may need the extra cap space to navigate life without Smith at quarterback. From a performance standpoint, it’s hard to still see Norman as one of the very best in the game, but he’s good at what he does, and if the Redskins can afford it, he’s worth keeping around.

D.J. Swearinger is under contract but can be cut by the Redskins. After his fiery comments about defensive coordinator Greg Manusky on Saturday, the Redskins will have to decide if the value is worth the potential headache and disruption to the locker room.

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix will likely move on. The mid-season trade with Green Bay didn’t work out for the Redskins, but little was sent to the Packers, so little was lost.

Coaches

Jay Gruden: Current trend lines point toward Gruden keeping his job for another season, but the team has offered nothing concrete. Gruden has the support of the players in the locker room, and weathered both injuries and the usual barrage of organizational shenanigans with class.

Uncertainty over team president Bruce Allen’s future should add to Gruden’s security. Allen can’t be trusted to hire another coach, and a new general manager shouldn’t be forced into hiring one on an expedited timetable.

If the Redskins do opt for a new head coach, they’ll be lower in the pecking order of openings. The vacancies in Cleveland and Green Bay are both significantly more attractive than the opportunity to work in Washington with uncertainty at both the general manager position and the quarterback spot.

Greg Manusky and Bill Callahan: Neither assistant coach is directly responsible for the on-field results, but if change happens, this feels like a likely place it will start.

Manusky isn’t universally disliked in the locker room, but the intrasquad squabbles this season didn’t reflect well on his ability to keep the team together. The bigger issue - whoever is next would be the fourth defensive coordinator during Gruden’s tenure. Gruden has been hands off with the defense, but he’s yet to find the right person for that role.

Callahan has presided over an offensive line that has cycled through 12 guards this season. That’s not his fault, but this is the second consecutive year the unit has been ravaged by injuries. Callahan is also heavily involved in play calling on the rushing side of the ball, and it might be necessary to free those duties up to keep the next assistant in the building.

Kevin O’Connell: The Redskins “passing game coordinator” is the latest young assistant to generate rising-star buzz under Gruden. First was Sean McVay, who left to coach the Rams, and Matt LaFleur left to become the Titans offensive coordinator.

O’Connell hasn’t been in the media as much as McVay was (McVay truly was one of a kind), but NFL teams are well aware of his talent and he’ll be a strong candidate for any offensive coordinator vacancies. Promoting O’Connell to offensive coordinator and play caller would be a blow to Gruden, but might be what it takes to keep him in the building.

Executives

Bruce Allen: Everything starts with this key decision. The case against Allen has piled up over his 9-year tenure in Washington, and the sparse crowds at FedEx Field have been the biggest and most jarring call for organizational change.

Allen is only the second person to hold the top role under owner Dan Snyder, and the last, Vinny Cerrato, was finally shown the door when the fans were in a similar level of revolt. If Allen stays, it’s hard to imagine how this team can continue to move forward to respectability. But if Allen goes, Snyder would be the sole public face of the team’s business side, something he may not be comfortable with.

Kyle Smith: Smith has handled the scouting for the Redskins drafts in recent years, and was promoted to a bigger role when Scot McCloughan departed. He is seen around the league as a bright young mind, and if he doesn’t get the chance to be a general manager in Washington, he may very well get that opportunity elsewhere. There will always be a place in the Redskins organization for Doug Williams, but if Allen is shown the door, Smith is the logical, and capable, choice to take over personnel decisions.

Eric Schaffer: Schaffer, who has a legal background, has handled the Redskins contract negotiations over the past few years. While his track record is far from perfect, he’s handled a number of difficult situations, and has built up a reputation as a person who can be trusted by agents and players, something that’s in short supply inside Redskins Park.

If Allen goes, a dual-headed monster of Smith and Schaffer makes sense atop the football side of the organization, with Schaffer handling cap issues and contracts. That would leave Brian Lafemina to handle the business side, including negotiations for a new stadium.

Like Smith, if Allen stays, the Redskins run the serious risk of losing Shaffer, who reportedly has made short lists for vacancies in other cities.

mphillips@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6546

@michaelpRTD

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