Here is my prediction for the 53-man roster that will emerge from the final round of cuts:SpecialistsIn (3):P Sav Rocca, LS Nick Sundberg, PK Billy CundiffObviously Cundiff beating out both Neil Rackers and Graham Gano without making a single kick in a Redskins uniform was a surprise to most.DefenseDefensive backsCornerback (5): DeAngelo Hall, Josh Wilson, Cedric Griffin, Richard Crawford, Brandyn ThompsonSafety (4): Brandon Meriweather, Tanard Jackson, Madieu Williams, DeJon GomesJordan Bernstine goes to the practice squad. Reed Doughty may give you more than Gomes this year but I think that last years draft pick stays with an eye towards 2013 and beyond.LinebackersOutside (4):Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan, Rob Jackson, Chris Wilson,Inside (5):London Fletcher, Perry Riley, Lorenzo Alexander, Keenan Robinson, Bryan KehlIts hard to cut an athlete like Markus White but Wilson is a more polished player and can be a huge asset on special teams.Defensive lineIn (6): Stephen Bowen, Jarvis Jenkins, Adam Carriker, Kedric Golston, Barry Cofield, Chris BakerThis has been set since Chris Neild went out with a torn ACL. Golston stays because the blocking in the middle of the line on field goals fell apart when he got injured last year. Doug Worthington goes to the practice squad.For a look at mypre-training camp 53-man prediction, go here.OffenseRunning backsIn (5):Roy Helu Jr., Tim Hightower, Evan Royster, Darrell Young, Alfred MorrisNone of the four tailbacks is a stud but it would be hard to cut any of them, so Shanahan wont.Tight endsIn (3):Fred Davis, Niles Paul, Logan PaulsenThis was set when Chris Cooley was released on Tuesday.Wide receiversIn (6):Pierre Garon, Leonard Hankerson, Josh Morgan, Santana Moss, Aldrick Robinson, Dez BriscoeYes, Anthony Armstrong plays special teams and Briscoe doesnt or at least not very much or very well. But in 2010 Armstrong caught seven passes. Briscoe caught sixtouchdownpasses. Briscoe has been the better player in camp and in preseason games since learning the offense. Briscoe has to stay.If Brandon Banks staysand I dont think he willhe wont take a job away from one of the six wide receivers. If he does stay it will be as a return specialist and his roster slot will come from the offensive line or from a linebacker.QuarterbacksIn (3):Robert Griffin III, Rex Grossman, Kirk CousinsRex stays. Period.Offensive lineIn (9):Trent Williams, Kory Lichtensteiger, Will Montgomery, Chris Chester, Tyler Polumbus, Josh LeRibeus, Jordan Black, Adam Gettis, Maurice HurtAs noted above, the Redskins could decide to keep Banks and trim back an offensive lineman. They got burned last year keeping eight linemen when a rash of injuries hit so I think they will play it safe this year and keep nine.If they do decide to go with eight, Gettis seems to be the most vulnerable. Black is the swing tackle, LeRibeus can play guard or center, and Hurt can play guard or tackle. Gettis may develop versatility but for now he seems likely to learn on the practice squad.Willie Smith does have a shot at getting Blacks spot. He started camp and the preseason games slowly, something the coaching staff made no secret of. But he has performed better lately. But it looks like Black will get the nod.Breakdown: 26 offense, 24 defense, 3 specialistsAgree? Disagree? Hit me up in the comments or on Twitter @Rich_Tandler
It still seems like a long-shot the Redskins trade Kirk Cousins, but if there is one persistent rumor, it's that the San Francisco 49ers want the Washington passer. The story is too familiar at this point: New Niners coach Kyle Shanahan was in D.C. when Cousins was drafted and wants the quarterback to come run his offense in San Francisco. With the second overall pick, the 49ers have a tremendous asset they can dangle in trade talks.
Whether or not any of this rumor is true, it sure makes for engrossing speculation. With the NFL Draft Combine next week in Indianapolis, NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah said he wouldn't be shocked to see the trade go down.
That's the backdrop. Beyond the debate of the merits of trading an established QB like Cousins, which is a very serious debate, there's also the notion of what player the 'Skins would select with the second overall pick.
MORE REDSKINS: 2017 top heavy Cap could be a problem
It's worth examining the impact players available to Washington with the second selection in the 2017 NFL Draft, and the options are varied, including perhaps a new QB. Check it out.
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It seems almost inevitable that the Redskins will put the franchise tag on Kirk Cousins between now and the March 1 deadline. This will set the Redskins up to have a very top heavy salary cap structure.
As the website Spotrac noted yesterday, if the Redskins do tag Cousins, giving him a cap hit of $24.9 million, he, Josh Norman ($20 million cap number) and Trent Williams ($15.1 million) will account for a total of $59 million against the cap or 35 percent of the estimated $168 million cap for the 2017 season.
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That’s a lot of money to go to 5.6 percent of the players on the roster. To compare, the top three players on the Cowboys’ cap account for 34.2 percent of the cap. The top three with the Giants take up 29.7 percent and in Philadelphia it’s 17.8 percent. In fact, a check around the league shows that none of the 2016 AFC or NFC playoff teams has a higher percentage of their cap expended on its top three than the Redskins have on theirs.
This caused some consternation among Redskins fans and while it’s something to keep an eye on it does not present a big issue for the team at this time.
For one thing, the Redskins still have a good amount of cap room. If you assume the Cousins tag, they still will have about $40 million in cap space with the ability to create perhaps $10 million more by releasing some veterans and/or redoing some contracts.
Also, it’s a temporary situation. Let’s say that the Redskins hang on to Cousins with a long-term deal and he has a $22 million cap number in 2018. If that the case then Cousins, Norman ($17 million), and Williams ($13.9 million) would still be the top three players on the cap number list and they would total $52 million. On a cap that is projected to be $178 million that would be 29.2 percent of the total. That’s still on the high side but certainly manageable.
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And if you are going to have three players taking up a high percentage of the cap they should be your quarterback, left tackle, and No. 1 cornerback. Those, along with an edge rusher, are the most important players on the team and it’s appropriate to have them among you highest-paid players.
Still, the Redskins must be careful. Signing another free agent with a cap hit like Norman’s is out of the question. And as key contributors like Morgan Moses, Trent Murphy, Jamison Crowder, and Brandon Scherff become eligible for contract extensions or for free agency over the next couple of years, the organization needs to be sure that there is room to retain their own players when the time comes.