ASHBURN, Va. -- How good is Brandon Scherff? The answer that most commonly emanates from fans, media and coaches?
He's not "good,'' he's "great.''
The answer you'll get here is Scherff is "good to very good'' and "sometimes dominant'' but he's not "consistently great or dominant.''
Are we splitting semantic hairs here? Maybe, But getting this free agency decision right is worth the diagnosis.
How much is "good to very good'' and "sometimes dominant'' worth in today's NFL? Probably $15 million-plus per year on a four- or five-year deal and a truck load of fully guaranteed cash, based on recent similar contracts.
Per the Washington Post, the two sides have not re-engaged in new contract talks yet and as we've mentioned several times, a second franchise tag is possible.
First the "good to very good'' on Scherff: Per ESPN's "Run Block Win Rate" measure, Scherff was fifth best in the NFL in 2020.
Scherff came in at 76% behind Quenton Nelson, Will Hernandez, Zack Martin and Issac Seumalo.
The difference between Scherff and Nelson? Just 3%. Nelson was the best in the NFL for a guard at 79%.
Per ProFootballFocus.com (PFF), Scherff racked up an overall grade of 86.3/100 including pass block grades of 82.5 and a run-block grade of 82.6, both out of 100.
Scherff made another Pro Bowl and won the Ed Block Courage Award as well. He's smart and tough and Washington was better this year in short-yardage situation conversion runs than they were under Jay Gruden by "the eye test.''
Now the concerns: In 2019, while missing five games total, Scherff had nine penalties.
In the last four years, he's missed a total 18.5 games. That's obviously more than a full season and there's been concern under previous management about the wear-and-tear on his body from hard practices under former coach Bill Callahan's leadership.
Scherff was charged with three sacks, two quarterback hits and 16 QB hurries by PFF in 2020 on 517 pass blocking snaps.
There were a total of 21 QB pressures allowed by Scherff in 12-plus games.
Ereck Flowers, who Washington did not bring back last year, played 14 games and 506 pass blocking snaps in 2020 for Miami. He had 20 QB pressures allowed.
When judging Scherff overall, Washington has to figure this out. Where does he rank among the best guards in the NFL? Is he top-five?
Is he better than Joel Bitonio, a left guard in Cleveland? Or Nelson, the Indianapolis left guard?
Among right guards, he might be the fourth best in the division when Zack Martin and Brandon Brooks are healthy, along with Kevin Zeitler of the Giants, who is more durable.
Around the NFL, Cleveland's Wyatt Teller, New England's Shaq Mason and Tampa's Alex Cappa are strong contenders for the best at the right guard position.
In terms of average per year, Scherff is already at the top of the pay scale because of the franchise tag last year. He made $15.03 million.
If that's the number that's important to Scherff and his agent, then he might have to accept a shorter deal from Washington.
If longer-term security is crucial, it would help if Scherff backed down off of the market price and therefore took less in full guarantees.
With Scherff facing a second potential tag, it's possible that if both sides cannot get a multi-year deal done by July, Scherff would likely be playing his final year in Washington.
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The WFT couldn't possibly go two fully guaranteed years at $30+ million because a long-term deal wasn't close and then do another three or four year deal with subsequent guarantees.
If they can get a deal done before using the franchise tag this year, that would lower Scherff's cap number for 2021.
The scenario that almost nobody sees is letting Scherff test the market as a complete unrestricted free agent.
Our guess? A long-term deal does not get done by the franchise tag deadline and while on the tag, the two sides get a deal done before mid-July.