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NFC East notebook: The rumor mill awakens in Washington; Tony Romo re-defines his TV worth

Here’s the need-to-know news around the NFC East this week

NFL Combine - Day 1 Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

Last week for the NFC East roundup, I wrote the following statement:

“[Ron] Rivera predictably did not give away any indication as to whether or not the Redskins will definitely draft [Chase] Young with the second overall pick, but it’s hard to imagine them choosing anyone else.”

Now enter the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Early this week, the paper released a story that claimed the Redskins told Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa during their meeting at the NFL Combine that the team wants to bring him to Washington to compete with Dwayne Haskins Jr.

“They felt like Dwayne was not the guy right now,” the source said. “They want to bring in Tua, just get it going and compete.”

This report was enough to kick-start the NFL rumor mill. Rivera did express interest in wanting to create more competition for Haskins during his presser at the NFL Combine last week. The Redskins do only have one other quarterback on their roster in veteran Alex Smith, who missed all of the 2018 season due to injury and has an unpredictable time table moving forward.

Tagovailoa injured his hip in Alabama’s game against Mississippi State this past season. His draft stock has certainly dipped, but never too far as the star quarterback is reportedly making a smooth recovery and his performance in college suggest that he would be a valuable addition to any team.

But that team was never supposed to be the Redskins. With the No. 2 overall pick, Washington has always been expected to pick Ohio State defensive end Chase Young. But now people are talking (myself included) and draft predictions are being re-ordered.

While it is perhaps fun to re-imagine what once seemed inevitable, it’s important to be realistic.

The Redskins are almost certainly going to draft Chase Young. The only team in a position to give Washington any doubt over that decision is the Miami Dolphins. With the No. 5 overall pick, the Dolphins are in need of a quarterback and it is no secret that they are interested in Tagovailoa. Miami has the most to offer Washington in terms of a trade with the 18th and 26th first-round picks and two second-rounders at 39 and 56. When you remember that the Redskins do not have any second-round picks this year because they moved up in last year’s draft to select edge defender Montez Sweat, it’s easy to understand the temptation.

But if Washington can create enough buzz around the Tagovailoa rumor, tit could potentially trade with Miami to acquire a first-round and potentially couple of second-round picks only to trade back up with the Detroit Lions for the No. 3 overall pick, giving them Young and more draft picks.

I am not suggesting the Redskins try to pull off a gamble so risky. But I am suggesting that they play the rumor mill.

Now let’s dive into the other news around the NFC East this week.

Washington Redskins

In last week’s notebook, we spent a lot of time discussing the franchise tag that teams can place on a player for one season. The franchise tag give teams a short-term, albeit expensive, way to sign players that they do not want to hit the free agent market. Teams have until March 12th to use the franchise tag and free agency begins on March 18th.

Reports began circulating this week that the Redskins will use their franchise tag on RG Brandon Scherff. Washington selected Scherff with the fifth overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft and he has been with the team for the past five years. Both sides have been trying to negotiate a long-term contract since last season. Scherff played for $12.52 million in 2019.

The franchise tag for the offensive line this year is expected to be around $16 million, which begs the question, is Scherff worth that much? He has finished the last two seasons on IR and had surgery in December for a labrum injury after tearing his pec the previous season. But at the same time, Scherff made the Pro Bowl last year, in addition to the 2016 and 2017 seasons.

I am not sure Scherff is worth $16 million, but I do think that he is worth keeping. The Redskins can afford to place the franchise tag on him for one year, which buys time to consider what to do with him long-term.

Of course, we have to spend some of the NFC East notebook talking about Trent Williams - the saga that might finally be reaching its end. Adam Schefter tweeted Thursday that Williams has been given permission to seek a trade though his agent. According to Williams’ agent, “This isn’t about a contract, but time for a change of scenery.”

Let’s be real. This is about a contract. Williams has one year left on his contract with the Redskins and he would like to be paid like the seven-time Pro Bowler he is/used to be. If he wanted to play in Washington, he would have put the drama aside and taken the field during the 2019 season. If I’m Washington, I do not envy the team that signs Williams and I am focused on trying to trade Williams before free agency opens in order to have about $72 million in salary cap room. It’s time to replace Williams with someone who wants to play in Washington.

Dallas Cowboys

The most noteworthy news to come out of Dallas this week concerns their ex-quarterback. Tony Romo will reportedly sign a $17 million/year deal with CBS, becoming TV’s highest-paid broadcaster.

For perspective, Romo earned $4 million a year according to the contract he signed when he joined the network in 2017.

During his NFL career, Romo earned just over $127 million and averaged $9.1 million per year, according to Over the Cap. In 2013, Romo signed a $108 million contract that was supposed to last six years, but he retired following the 2016 season.

I am not saying that Romo doesn’t deserve to be the highest broadcaster in sports. He has a knack for predicting plays in the booth and he maintains a charisma throughout the broadcast that not many people can pull off. But, his contract makes me think of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Romo is making more as an NFL broadcaster than some players make in their NFL careers. While I do think Romo is making an exorbitant amount at CBS, his contract reveals more about the CBA than anything else. Something seems a little off when the broadcaster talking about the sport makes more than the athletes actually playing.

Philadelphia Eagles

Things are less dramatic in Philadelphia than elsewhere around the NFC East, but a little more mysterious. The team announced that it is brining Marty Mornhinweg back to its coaching staff after eight years away from the team. Mornhinweg will serve as an aide to head coach Doug Pederson, donning the official title of “senior offensive consultant.”

The appeal to Mornhinweg is that he has history with Pederson and the two are comfortable working together. If Mornhinweg can provide a different perspective that will help challenge Carson Wentz and the Eagles offense, then he will be welcome addition.

But it is strange that Mornhinweg was not announced with the other new coaching hires the Eagles released back in February. His addition must have fans wondering what role he will play in the Eagles’ offensive scheme as a whole. The team recently added “passing game coordinator” to quarterbacks coach Press Taylor’s title in addition to hiring former Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello as a “senior offensive assistant.”

Oh, Philadelphia also hired Andrew Breiner as a “pass game analyst.” If this sounds like a lot of names on the offensive side of the ball, it is.

The Eagles are experimenting with their offensive structure and the 2020 season will reveal how, or if, these coordinators can work together to create a successful on-field product.