Jordan Reed Extension Exemplifies the New Era of the Washington Redskins – Bleacher Report

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Dan Snyder might be the owner of the Washington Redskins, but he’s no longer the face of the franchise. Scot McCloughan has established himself as the team’s beachhead in his second year as general manager.

This became evident when tight end Jordan Reed signed a five-year, $46.5 million contract Thursday, according to ProFootballTalk.

Reed’s re-signing continues a drastic change in approach for a team that once signed an aging Deion Sanders and Bruce Smith to establish its reputation under a young owner.

Since becoming the team’s principal owner in 1999, Snyder’s hands-on approach and seemingly insatiable need to make big splashes in free agency or the draft loomed over the organization.

The ill-fated big-name free-agent acquisitions, numerous head coaching hires and mishandling of Robert Griffin III are now in the rear-view mirror.

In the 16 months since McCloughan’s hire, Snyder’s presence feels less like the Emperor in Star Wars and more like Darth Vader after his change of heart in Return of the Jedi.

Power struggles can ruin a franchise, and they’ve been apparent in the Redskins organization under previous leadership. McCloughan’s presence appears to have had a calming effect, though.

The general manager came in and immediately set about changing the organization’s overall attitude. The team will be built through the draft, Jay Gruden and his staff will cultivate the talent and the franchise will attempt to re-sign its homegrown talent to long-term extensions.

Yes, the Redskins recently signed cornerback Josh Norman to a five-year, $75 million contract, but McCloughan simply took advantage of an unexpected situation once Norman became available.

This isn’t his normal modus operandi. Prior to Norman’s acquisition, the team had been far less active this offseason in free agency than previous years with defensive end Kendall Reyes being the team’s only significant offseason signing.

Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press

Upon his arrival, McClouhan realized the Redskins needed to get tougher. He went about addressing this issue by signing free agents Terrance Knighton, Stephen Paea and Ricky Jean Francois.

These acquisitions were meant to simply supplement the roster. None of them were perceived as long-term answers to the team’s problems. Knighton, for example, is already with another team after signing a one-year deal last offseason.

Work began on building through the draft and retaining said talent.

With the fifth overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft, the Redskins selected 2014 Outland Trophy winner Brandon Scherff. Some might argue the team didn’t get the best value since the Iowa product didn’t play offensive tackle as a rookie. Yet he started every single game at right guard, missed just one snap and set a new, physical tone along the team’s offensive line.

“For me to do my job and make this organization as strong as it can be, I’ve got to take the best football players,” McCloughan said after the 2016 NFL draft, per the Washington Post‘s Master Tesfatsion.

It’s not simply about taking the best football players; it also comes down to retaining them.

Last season, Reed led the team with 87 receptions for 952 yards and 11 touchdowns. The tight end developed into Kirk Cousins‘ security blanket as the quarterback targeted him a whopping 114 times.

As Cousins works on a long-term extension with the team, it’s important to retain his top target. Upon signing his new deal, Reed became the league’s third-highest-paid tight end in total cash value.

The tight end’s value to the offense can’t be underestimated, as Fox 5 DC’s Grant Paulsen noted:

At 6’3″ and 237 pounds, Reed is a mismatch nightmare for opposing defenses. In today’s NFL, offenses are built around creating these types of mismatches and regularly exploiting them. Reed brings a different level of athleticism and skill than most tight ends.

This move continues a trend started by McCloughan. Washington wants to keep its own and has successfully done so over the past 10 months, with three massive extensions handed out by the general manager. The Washington Post‘s Jake Russell provided a quick breakdown:

In less than a year, McCloughan locked up the team’s top pass-rusher, left tackle and offensive threat. These are three vitally important positions on which an organization’s foundation is built. All of them are locked up until they’re at least 29 years old or older if the franchise decides to keep them through the entirety of their contracts.

This is how a strong core of young players in their prime is properly built.

The next step is doing the same with Cousins. It’s a task McCloughan wants to accomplish in the near future. The franchise tag deadline is July 15, though, and the executive isn’t sure a deal will be struck.

I don’t know for sure, but we would love to get it done,” McCloughan said on PFT Live on Tuesday. “We would love to get it done, but you’re well aware of how the business works. He’s our leader on offense, he’s our quarterback. He won the [NFC] East for us last year, a 16-game quarterback, took us to the playoffs.”

Patrick Smith/Getty Images

A long-term solution remains ideal for both parties. If not, Cousins will operate under the $19.953 million franchise tag this fall before becoming a free agent after the 2016 season.

Building in such a manner often lends to consistent success, and it comes from an unlikely source. McCloughan battled personal demons and remained out of the NFL for nearly two years despite being well regarded as one of the league’s top talent evaluators.

Prior to his absence, the Alameda, California, native worked for three of the league’s most successful and revered franchises: the Green Bay Packers, San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks.

But his life came crashing down as he battled alcoholism.

“It’d take me away from reality,” McCloughan recalled in a revealing 2014 feature by Seth Wickersham for ESPN The Magazine. “All of a sudden, everything’s gone. Just have peace. Everything that was going on with my wife at the time, everything with the kids, everything with the job, it’s OK. … That was my drug. It was a liquid drug.”

McCloughan’s story is one of redemption: an unlikely face for a downtrodden franchise who began life anew and quickly re-established himself one of the league’s top general managers. He’s now building the Redskins piece by piece like he once rebuilt his life day by day.

The nature of McCloughan’s comeback and how good of a story it truly is also helps take pressure off Snyder and his sometimes obstinate approach to the league and its fans. Success is the ultimate cure.

With a competent general manager in place, Snyder can fade into the background and let the decision-maker do his job—getting the best talent available for the Redskins and making sure they’re re-signed to long-term contracts.

Reed’s new deal serves as a microcosm of Washington’s overall growth as a franchise under McCloughan.


All salary information obtained from Spotrac.

Brent Sobleski covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @brentsobleski.

Jordan Reed Extension Exemplifies the New Era of the Washington Redskins – Bleacher Report