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Mason's Return = The End for Brown?

January 26, 2018
Mason Foster is back with the Washington Redskins as the team quietly has signed a few core free agents that they’ve targeted as necessary ingredients to winning more games than losing.

The inside linebacker out of Washington came to this Washington (as in the Redskins) early in the 2015 season, when the Redskins won the NFC East. He was originally a third round pick of the Tampa Bay Bucs and was one of the best free-agent acquisitions of the Scot McCloughan era.

Foster had a game-ending interception in a week two win at the Los Angeles Rams that helped save the Redskins season. He was injured in that game and ultimately played with a torn labrum for a few more games before being shut down on October 27 before a home loss to the Dallas Cowboys. He underwent surgery and the defense which had already lost Jonathan Allen for the season, was never the same.  Foster only played five games for the Redskins in 2017, with 30 combined tackles, a sack and that huge interception of Jared Goff.

Mason ReSigns(Photo via @Mason_Foster)

The deal is reportedly a two-year contract worth up to $7 million, as first reported by Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. My pal John Keim of ESPN has some direct quotes from Foster and a breakdown of what Foster is guaranteed while my 106.7 The FAN colleagues, Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier had Foster on the radio, just after the deal was official. 

The most important elements of this deal are these:

1.      The Redskins got a fairly-good starter for a very reasonable price. Even if Foster hits all of his incentives, an average of $3.5 million for a starting inside backer that can play both positions and that you trust, is virtually nothing.

2.      They get a starter back that can play both inside positions, as in the “Mike” and “Moe” spots. Will Compton can play both. Martrell Spaight can but Zach Brown has a league wide reputation of not being able to call the plays on-field and my                    understanding is that didn’t change this past year

3.      The Redskins still do not have Brown or Compton signed and Jay Gruden indicated to reporters in Mobile at the Senior Bowl, that the goal was to get two of the three back. With Foster done, they now have half of their goal.

4.      Bruce Allen & Washington  now has leverage over Brown who wants a much larger deal than Foster received and is likely going to find the grass is greener somewhere else, when it comes to dollars paid.

5.      If Brown is looking for more than 5 or 6 million per year on average with certain structure elements in place, it’s doubtful he would get that from the Redskins, who liked what they saw but have plenty of questions moving forward.

6.      The Redskins, like every other NFL team, cannot afford to overpay severely for a player they have direct knowledge of. Free agency is a bit of shotgun marriage. The Redskins situation with Foster, Brown and Compton isn’t. They know all                    three, they know the pluses and limitations of each. I’m thinking that if they do re-sign one of the remaining two, it would be Compton.

Here’s the bottom-line: In a perfect world, Brown’s talent and athleticism plus run stopping ability would be worth something the Redskins can afford and dedicate resources to. Every defense is better with Brown on it, than not. However, the cost is likely to be way too rich and the Redskins already know it.

Brown was disappointed by offers he received on the market last year, gambled and signed with Washington on a one-year, four-million-dollar deal to max out. He was on pace early on to make that kind of impact but struggled in pass coverage all year long and got hurt, forcing him to miss the last few games of the season.

The Foster deal allows the Redskins to dig in deeper in their stance on Brown. That’s generally not a good thing for a player in Brown’s situation. While some in the media and fan base have been parading Brown’s case since early in the year and at times, I was blown away too, the Redskins have a very difficult but understandable hard -line decision to make here.

Compton may not have the speed, size and athletic ability of Brown but he’s better at everything else that goes into the ultimate decision. That still might not be enough for Compton and the Redskins to come together, but that situation offers a lot more potential than a deal with Brown.

Not to mention, the Redskins have a player, at the same position, that can fly around and hit hard but one that is raw in Martrell Spaight. Is Brown better? Yes. Does Spaight favorably compare at a much cheaper cost. Hell yeah.

It’s pretty clear where this is heading. 

Chris Russell has covered the Washington Redskins for eight seasons for multiple media outlets and was a part of the Redskins Radio Network broadcast team for five years. He covers the Redskins, Washington Valor and Baltimore Brigade for Monumental Sports Network (  Listen to Chris on Washington D.C.'s # 1 sports radio station, 106.7 The FAN