Scherff stays put

Red­skins place fran­chise tag on Pro Bowl guard

Chicago Tribune (Sunday) - - SCOREBOARD -

The Red­skins placed the fran­chise tag on three-time Pro Bowl guard Bran­don Scherff on Satur­day to keep him in the fold next sea­son.

Scherff and the Red­skins had been in talks on a long-term deal. In­stead, the Red­skins en­sured their 2015 first-round pick would not reach free agency.

The 28-year-old could have been among the NFL’s high­est­paid guards had he hit the open mar­ket. He dealt with nu­mer­ous in­juries the last two sea­sons but has been a force for the Red­skins when healthy.

Scherff was named to his third Pro Bowl in 2019 af­ter start­ing 11 games. He has started all 65 games he has played in since turn­ing pro out of Iowa and be­ing drafted fifth over­all by the Red­skins five years ago.

The Red­skins used the regular, not the exclusive, fran­chise tag on Scherff, mean­ing he can still talk to other teams. They’d have the right to match an­other offer or re­ceive two first-round picks as com­pen­sa­tion. They also have un­til July 15 to ne­go­ti­ate a longterm con­tract.

The fran­chise tag for of­fen­sive line­men is ex­pected to be worth up­ward of $15 mil­lion for the 2020 sea­son.

Thomas stays with Ravens: The Ravens re-signed wide re­ceiver and re­turn spe­cial­ist De’An­thony Thomas, giv­ing the team at least one op­tion to bring back kicks and punts in 2020.

Thomas joined the Ravens half­way through last sea­son af­ter the team re­leased punt re­turner Cyrus Jones. Though he rarely played on of­fense, Thomas manned both re­turn jobs for the Ravens through a play­off run, pro­duc­ing mixed re­sults.

Thomas av­er­aged 7.2 yards per punt re­turn and 16.6 yards per kick re­turn over eight reg­u­larsea­son games with the Ravens.

Thomas spent his first five­and-a-half NFL sea­sons play­ing for the Chiefs. His role on of­fense di­min­ished the past cou­ple years, and the Chiefs re­leased Thoams in Oc­to­ber af­ter he fum­bled a punt re­turn.

The Ravens haven’t re­lied on a con­sis­tent re­turner in re­cent years, shuf­fling be­tween options. This move to sign Thomas five days be­fore the start of the NFL’s op­er­at­ing year — and full-force free agency — gives the 27-yearold speed­ster a chance to lock down the for next sea­son.

Other deals: Fal­cons FB Keith Smith agreed to a three-year con­tract ex­ten­sion. Smith, who started five games and led the team with eight spe­cial teams tack­les in 2019, was set to be­come an un­re­stricted free agent Wed­nes­day . ... The Lions re­signed long snap­per Don Muhlbach, who is sec­ond on the team’s ca­reer list with 244 games played . ... TE Ja­son Croom, who spent all of the 2019 sea­son on the in­jured-re­serve list, will re­turn to the Bills for a fourth sea­son.

BRIAN CASSELLA/CHICAGO TRI­BUNE

Three-time Pro Bowl guard Bran­don Scherff has started 65 games over his five-year ca­reer.

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