INDIANAPOLIS — The Washington Redskins have made an offer to inside linebacker Zach Brown, and senior vice president of player personnel Doug Williams said talks are on pause. The six-year veteran led the team with 127 tackles after signing a one-year deal before the 2017 season.
“We made Zach an offer a long time ago, and we’re just waiting on Zach more than anything,” Williams said Wednesday at the NFL Scouting Combine. “We haven’t heard anything, so it’s basically up to them to start the negotiation part.”
Brown signed a $2.3 million deal for his lone season in Washington with the hope of earning a significant long-term deal afterward. The 2012 second-round pick turns 29 in October, and this could be his last opportunity for a major payday.
The team recently wrapped up extensive meetings evaluating the upcoming draft and free agency. There have been discussions with most of the impending free agents, including cornerback Bashaud Breeland, linebacker Trent Murphy and wide receiver Ryan Grant.
Williams didn’t hesitate to list running back and defensive line as positions needing improved production. The Redskins were tied for 29th in the league at 3.6 rushing yards per carry and gave up a league-high 2,146 rushing yards.
“Nobody’s going to sit here and sugarcoat [it],” Williams said. “To say we’re good with the running backs would not be fair to the team. The interior [defensive] line needs upgrading; there’s no doubt about it. … We’ve got to be able to stop the run; that’s not a secret. To sit here and say we’re happy with what we have, that wouldn’t be fair.”
Drafting a running back is a possibility, and Williams called that position the strongest of the class. He added there’s more of a league-wide emphasis on having two to three quality runners rather than chasing a big-name free agent. Williams waxed poetic about running back Chris Thompson, who suffered a fractured fibula in November, and hopes the five-year veteran will return to 100 percent.
Rob Kelley remains under contract after being placed on injured reserve in 2017 with knee and ankle injuries, and Samaje Perine led the team with 603 yards as a rookie after being selected in the fourth round out of Oklahoma.
“There’s enough running backs for everybody to get one,” Williams said of the draft. “With this draft and what you already have, if you get a guy in the second [to fourth] round, that’s a pretty good running back to mix with what you already have.”
Free agency begins March 14, and Williams expects the team to use that period to plug holes in the roster so it isn’t forced to focus on a specific need during April’s draft.
“If we can pick up some people that we’ve identified in free agency … it takes the pressure off the draft,” Williams said, “and puts you in a position to draft the best available player because you’re not drafting for need.”
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