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Ereck Flowers and Brandon Scherff stories remain intertwined with Washington-Miami trade

Washington Football Report

Washington bolsters its offensive line with a trade just days before the draft.

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The Ereck Flowers NFL story has been interesting from its very beginning, and it seems destined to remain intertwined with the Brandon Scherff story. In the 2015 draft, both Washington and division rival NY Giants needed offensive line help. Washington was picking 5th overall in the draft while NY was picking at #9. The Redskins selected Brandon Scherff, who was coveted by the Giants front office. When the Giants were on the clock, they selected Ereck Flowers.

The two players had divergent paths in terms of success on their respective rookie contracts. Both were drafted as offensive tackles. When Scherff struggled at the position in his rookie training camp, Washington's coaches shifted him to right guard where he has been the entrenched starter ever since. Last season he was named first-team All Pro. Flowers also struggled at the tackle position, but the Giants stubbornly stuck with him, never trying him at guard. His career foundered in New York. The team declined his 5th year option, and then released him midway through the 2018 season.

Flowers was picked up by Jacksonville as a replacement for injured OT Josh Wells, but the former Giant became an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2018 season. His career seemed to be in tatters; two teams -- the Giants and Jaguars -- had let him walk. Washington, who needed interior line help, signed him to a one-year "prove it" deeal to play guard for the Redskins in 2019. Flowers used that opportunity to resurrect his career, starting 16 games at left guard.

Washington's front office offered Flowers an extension to stay with the team, but Flowers, who was born in Florida, and who played high school ball there before joining the University of MIami Hurricaines football team, wanted to go home. He signed a 3-year, $30m contract with the Dolphins ahead of the 2020 season.

He played well in Miami, appearing in 14 games after missing the first two weeks on the COVID reserve list. He earned an overall offensive grade of 65.9 from PFF, compared to a grade of 64.1 in the '19 season with Washington. He graded particularly well in the passing game, earning a grade of 73.8 from PFF, higher than his grade of 69.0 a season earlier in Washington.

Why, then, would Miami trade him away? After all, Flowers is just 27 years old, has a history of staying healthy, and has played well in two seasons at the guard position. One reason is that Miami is in a difficult position with regard to cap space. OverTheCap reports that Miami had less than $7m in available cap space prior to the trade. Flowers had the 5th-highest cap hit on the team, and by trading him, Miami opens up another $9m in cap space for the 2021 season. From a roster standpoint, Solomon Kindley did really well stepping in for injury last year and the Miami front office and coaches like the idea of moving RT Robert Hunt inside and getting a veteran offensive tackle. The combination of cap savings and a restructured young offensive line made Flowers an attractive trade option for Miami.

The reported terms of the trade were that it involved a swap of late round picks. Washington doesn't have a 6th round pick in this week's draft, so, while the exact compensation hasn't been made public yet, this may simply be a swap of two 7th round picks to facilitate a move that Miami was keen to make.

Washington, for its part, has two concerns. The first is simply upgrading the interior offensive line depth chart, and the second is that they have been unable to agree to a long-term contract with Brandon Scherff, who is playing the 2021 season on his second franchise tag, at a cost of just over $18m for one season.

If Flowers can seize the starting left guard spot, then he and Scherff would be linked again by playing the two guard spots on the same offensive line.

Another possibility, however, is that Washington could seek a trade to send Scherff and his $18m cap hit to another team, especially if they believe that they will not be able to sign him to a long-term contract at the end of this season. If he plans to leave at the end of the season anyway, the Washington front office may want to save some cap space and gain some draft capital. In that case, the likely move would be for Flowers to start at LG while last year's starter at that position, Wes Schweitzer, moves to RG -- a position he has played before -- to replace Scherff. If this were to happen, the two trades to acquire Flowers and then jettison Scherff would undoubtedly link the two players even more deeply in the minds of Washington fans.

If the Washington Football Team were to seek a trade for Scherff, the most likely trade partner would probably be the Cincinnati Bengals, who need to upgrade their offensive line, and who have the fourth-most available cap space in the NFL.

Assuming, however, that Scherff remains, the acquisition of Flowers sets up an interesting camp battle between Schweitzer and Flowers, with a number of other players in the mix, including last year's 4th round pick Saahdiq Charles, who coach Ron Rivera has said will be given the chance to compete at both tackle and guard.

Washington's weakest link on the offensive line after this trade is left tackle, where Cornelius Lucas played well after joining the team as a veteran free agent a year ago, but Lucas is 30 years old and has had a journeyman's career in the NFL. Most pundits expect the WFT to select a tackle in this week's draft.

By acquiring Flowers to bolster the interior offensive line depth, the front office has taken a bit of pressure off the need to draft for specific positions, allowing the team to focus on drafting the best player available with its early picks.

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