Washington Redskins outside linebacker Trent Murphy officially has been suspended for the first four games of the 2017 season for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancement drugs, the league announced Friday. Murphy lost his appeal, which the league had been processing when Murphy’s violation was first reported March 5. The Redskins tweeted out a statement from an NFL spokesperson confirming the news.
Statement by an NFL spokesperson. pic.twitter.com/J4cmwO4toR
— Washington Redskins (@Redskins) April 14, 2017
It’s a noticeable loss for the Redskins given Murphy’s breakout season in 2016. He led the team with three forced fumbles and finished second in sacks with nine in a three-man rotation with Preston Smith and Ryan Kerrigan, who led Washington with 11 sacks. Murphy, 26, had just three career forced fumbles and six sacks in 31 games during his first two seasons.
Murphy hadn’t lived up to expectations at the start of his career at outside linebacker. The second-round pick out of Stanford in 2014 was asked to switch to defensive end last offseason, and Murphy gained nearly 30 pounds during offseason practices. He had to drop the weight during training camp, however, when he switched back to outside linebacker after Junior Galette was placed on the non-football injury list. Murphy was still able to have the most productive season in his three-year career under then position-coach Greg Manusky, who was promoted to defensive coordinator earlier in the offseason.
“It concerns me a lot,” Redskins Coach Jay Gruden said at last month’s NFL owners meetings about Murphy’s suspension. “I think what he did last year, as far as improvement goes, how he had to try to gain weight and then lose weight to do whatever we asked him to do and play whatever position we asked him to play is just the type of guy that he is, so it’s unfortunate that this happened. But we’ll have to man the fort for four weeks until he comes back, but I anticipate he’s going to have another strong year.”
The Redskins have more questions than answers at outside linebacker at the moment. Murphy’s emergence gave the Redskins another productive pass-rusher behind Kerrigan. Without him, the Redskins will need to depend on Smith, who has been inconsistent during his first two seasons, and Galette, who has yet to play a down in two years with the Redskins because of two torn Achilles’ tendons.
Washington could add a pass-rusher in the draft, but it’s a difficult position at which to make an immediate impact as a rookie. The franchise has been busy scouting talent over the past few weeks during the college pro day circuit. The Redskins showed some interest in pass-rushers at the NFL Scouting Combine, including formal interviews with Kansas State defensive end Jordan Willis and Villanova defensive end Tanoh Kpassagnon. The Redskins also have had a top 30 visit from Florida State pass rusher DeMarcus Walker and also reportedly from Kpassagnon, Wisconsin linebacker T.J. Watt and Temple outside linebacker Haason Reddick. It would make sense for Washington to select a pass-rusher considering Murphy is entering the final year of his rookie deal.
Murphy has a base salary of $787,591 in 2017. He will lose $185,315 as a result of this four-game suspension.