Washington Redskins outside linebacker Trent Murphy has lost his appeal with the NFL, and has been officially Suspended for the first four games of the 2017 season the league announced on Friday. Murphy was suspended for violating the NFL’s policy on performance enhancing drugs.

Originally the league announced the suspension on March 5th, but Murphy appealed that decision. Today the team released a statement announcing the league’s decision to sideline Murphy for four games to start the year.

Coming off his best season as a pro

Murphy is coming off a break-out season in which he recorded nine sacks, with three forced fumbles, while working in a three-man rotation with team-leader Ryan Kerrigan and up-and-coming Preston Smith.

Before last season, Murphy had only six sacks in 23 games started and was viewed as somewhat of a disappointment after being a second round draft pick out of Stanford. At the beginning of the 2016 offseason, the team felt Murphy might be of more use to them lining up as a defensive end, a position Washington was thin at on their depth chart. The position change meant Murphy had to gain some weight, an obstacle that gave him no problems as he put on 30 pounds during offseason/spring workouts. Once outside linebacker Junior Galette was placed on the non-football injured reserve list, the team turned to Murphy and asked him to lose that extra weight and move back.

Moving forward

Now that the Redskins know for sure that Trent will miss the opening of the season, they must come up with a contingency plan.

They could look to the NFL Draft to select another edge rusher to help with the burden of not having Murphy (which they may have done anyways), although first year players often take time to get used to the speed of the NFL/new scheme.

No matter what the outcome, the team will have to hope that third-year edge rusher Preston Smith is ready to be more of a consistent threat to opposing offenses.

In two seasons with Washington, Smith has 13 sacks, most of which came in his rookie season (8) in 2015. Washington will be paying close attention to Galette during training camp and offseason workouts as well. If Galette can ever get back on the field he could change the landscape of the entire position for the Redskins. His explosive first step off the line is something the team has lacked for many years.

The combination of a healthy Galette, Kerrigan, Smith, and Murphy after week 4, should give the Redskins a unique set of pass-rushers to work with in 2017.

As a result of the suspension, Murphy stands to lose $185,315 of his $787,591 base salary for 2017.