Preston Smith set to cash in after franchise tag deadline passes

By – The Washington Times – Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Of the six players to receive a franchise tag this year, five are high-profile pass rushers. 

That bodes well for Redskins linebacker Preston Smith. 

With top names like Dallas’ DeMarcus Lawrence and ’s Dee Ford now off the market, Smith could cash in when free agency opens next week. Pass-rushers come at a premium in the NFL — and Smith figures to be one of the best available rushers in this year’s free agency class. 

Several teams like the Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers and Indianapolis Colts are all looking to upgrade at the position. Green Bay, in particular, is rumored to have interest in Smith, according to The Athletic. The New York Jets also have shown an interest in Smith, ESPN.

The Redskins have said they will let Smith test free agency, and at this point, it would be a surprise if they were able to retain him.

Smith had just four sacks in 2018, but he’s finished with eight sacks twice in his career. The 26-year-old, drafted in the second round in 2015, is also known for his abilities to set the edge against the run and to create pressure.

“He’s going to command some attention and I think he will look at all his options,” coach Jay Gruden said last week at the NFL scouting combine. “We’d love to have him back for sure, but I don’t know where we are money-wise with him and his agent at this point of time.”

Spotrac, a website devoted to sports contracts, pegs Smith’s market value at $11.1 million per year. ESPN also speculated his salary could reach $14 million per year. 

In addition to Smith, other top names set to hit the market include New England’s Trey Flowers, the Rams’ Dante Fowler, Baltimore’s Za’Darius Smith and Minnesota’s Anthony Barr. is expected to release veteran Justin Houston, as well. 

That is admittedly a deep class, but some team will likely open its checkbook for Smith. 

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