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Redskins still in a waiting game at linebacker as free agency’s official start looms

Inside linebacker Zach Brown is looking for a large payday, but might yet return to Washington. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)
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The Washington Redskins both addressed some needs and lost contributors from thin positions during the two-day negotiation period before free agency officially begins at 4 p.m. Wednesday. But one key position group hasn’t yet seen any changes, and the team seems engaged in a waiting game of sorts.

Four Redskins linebackers — Zach Brown, Trent Murphy, Will Compton, Junior Galette — are eligible for free agency, and the team will need to add position at some point this offseason.

Brown is the biggest name, and is looking for a large payday after taking a one-year prove-it deal in 2016. He played well and led the team with 127 tackles, but he and the team were not close to a deal weeks ago. Doug Williams, senior vice president of player personnel, said at the NFL Combine that the team had made an initial offer, but never heard anything back from Brown’s camp.

There’s been speculation that the Redskins won’t pay the type of money that Brown is looking for, making a parting of ways a foregone conclusion. But one person with knowledge of the market suggested Brown’s asking price will be too high for other interested teams, and that he could end up back in Washington at a manageable number.

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Linebackers began coming off the board Tuesday as Anthony Hitchens reached a deal with the Chiefs worth a reported $9 million per year. The Lions reached agreements with a pair of linebackers, giving former Giant Devon Kennard a reported three-year, $18.75 million deal and former Bear Christian Jones two years at $7.75 million. Former Titan Avery Williamson reportedly will get three years and $22.5 million from the Jets with $16 million guaranteed. And on Wednesday, the Eagles retained Nigel Bradham, giving the 28-year old veteran a reported five-year $40-million deal.

Various reports had indicated Redskins interest in both Bradham and former Bills linebacker Preston Brown. Other free agent linebackers yet to sign include Tahir Whitehead (Lions), Demario Davis, (Jets), NaVorro Bowman (Raiders), Todd Davis (Broncos) and Jerrell Freeman (Bears).

The Athletic reported that 10 teams, including the 49ers, have expressed interest in Murphy. He had 47 tackles and 9.0 sacks in 2016, but missed all of 2017 with a torn ACL. The 27-year-old was a second-round pick out of Stanford in 2014 and started 15 games for the Redskins in 2015.

Galette had 20 tackles and three sacks in 2017, but missed all of 2015 and 2016 with torn Achilles’ tendons. He played all 16 games last season.

Compton had 19 tackles in 2017 and started three of nine games played, but finished the season on injured reserve with a Lisfranc sprain.

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