The franchising of Washington's Fred Davis

February, 8, 2012
2/08/12
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When Washington Redskins tight end Fred Davis and left tackle Trent Williams got suspended for the final four games of the 2011 season for repeatedly violating the NFL's drug policy, the big question was what the Redskins would do with these two guys. Redskins coach Mike Shanahan has been preaching the value of high-character players, and a couple of knuckleheads who managed to be the only two players in the entire league to violate an extremely permissive post-lockout drug policy certainly deserve to have their character questioned.

But the Redskins are all-in on Williams, who was the No. 4 pick in the 2010 draft and is their franchise left tackle. So he's not going anywhere unless he screws up again and gets suspended for a full year. And it doesn't look as though Davis is going anywhere, either. The NFL Network's estimable Jason LaCanfora reports that the Redskins plan to designate Davis as their franchise player this offseason. This comes as no surprise here. The question even came up in Tuesday's chat. See?
Matt (DC): "Will the Redskins franchise Fred Davis? He was having a breakout season before the positive test . . ."

Dan Graziano: "I think franchising Davis makes a lot of sense, yes. The number is low, and he's a big-time talent."

Franchising Davis would mean the Redskins would have to pay him about $5.4 million, fully guaranteed, in 2012. That's a pretty small number for a guy who caught 59 passes for 796 yards in only 12 games from substandard quarterbacks. Also, Shanahan and I talked a lot about Davis when I went there to interview him in December, and he seems genuinely fond of the big lug. Shanahan said he felt Davis and Williams were extremely embarrassed by what happened and that he believed the problem wouldn't repeat itself.

The only other possible franchise player I can see on the Redskins is safety LaRon Landry. The safety franchise tag is $6.2 million, which isn't that much higher than the tight end one. But the concern with Landry is whether he'll be able to play. He may or may not need surgery on his foot but so far hasn't had it. And if the Redskins don't know for sure that he can take the field when the season starts, guaranteeing $6.2 million in March doesn't make a heck of a lot of sense.

No, I feel pretty confident that Davis gets the franchise tag and a year to show he's not going to get in any more trouble. And I think the Redskins are planning to move on from Landry.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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