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Balanced salary structure helps Redskins stay under the cap

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Balanced salary structure helps Redskins stay under the cap

Since the offseason started the Redskins have been quite busy spending money. They put the franchise tag on Kirk Cousins, signed free agent cornerback Josh Norman, gave Jordan Reed a contract extension, and decided to retain wide receivers Pierre Garçon (cap number $10.2 million) and DeSean Jackson ($9.25 million).

And they did it without busting their salary cap. They have a shade over $11 million in cap space left this year. The Redskins also are in good shape next year with about $40 million on hand next year.

Cap management primarily falls on the shoulders of Eric Schaffer, the Redskins’ vice president of football administration. The Washington Times summarized what Schaffer told them about how to sign and retain talent and still stay under the cap:
A successful team has approximately half of its roster signed to rookie contracts to supplement premium-priced established players, and the goal should be to have enough cap space to extend home-grown players when their rookie deals expire.
It should be noted that the Redskins aren’t just paying home-grown players; three of their six highest-paid players (Garçon, Jackson, and Norman) are premium free agents from other teams.

So where to the Redskins sit now in terms of contracts? Are they paying half of their roster on rookie deals? Well, technically they are not quite there but they are very close and they have enough contracts that are similar to rookie deals to make their cap work.

Of the 53 players projected here to make the final roster (offense, defense) there are 25 who are either on the contracts they signed as rookies or first-year players (either drafted or undrafted) or on exclusive rights free agent contracts, which are one-year deals at around the minimum salary.

The rookie deals are not all cheap. Four players on their rookie deals have cap hits of over $1 million this year led by Brandon Scherff, who has a $4.8 million cap number. The other 21 rookie contracts all have cap hits under $1 million.

The Redskins also have some veteran contracts that carry a cap hit of less than $1 million and combined with the 21 rookie deals in that range they have 27 players who have cap hits of less than $1 million. So that gets the Redskins where Schaffer wants them to be in terms of lower-end contracts with just over half of the projected roster (50.9 percent, to be exact) playing for something near the league’s minimum wage.

That structure allows the Redskins to handle six contracts with cap hits of $8 million or more, led by Kirk Cousins with his franchise tag number of $19.953 million and still have some cap space to spare.

The key to keeping the plan on track is the draft. It’s possible that Bashaud Breeland and Morgan Moses will sign contract extensions next year, moves that may push their cap numbers into the $5 million range, perhaps higher. But as long as the Scto McCloughan keeps a steady supply of inexpensive, quality players in the pipeline through the draft they will be able to absorb those contracts without any problem.

Here are the 2016 cap numbers of the projected 53-man roster (Rookie/exclusive-rights free agent contracts are in red; all cap information via OvertheCap.com):

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Need to Know: The pace picks up as the Redskins return to Ashburn

Need to Know: The pace picks up as the Redskins return to Ashburn

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, August 16, 17 days before the Washington Redskins cut their roster to 53 on September 2.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 227 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 25 days.

Today’s schedule: Practice 1 p.m.; Jay Gruden news conference and player availability after practice, approx. 3 p.m.

Days until:

—Preseason vs. Packers at FedEx Field (8/19) 3
—Redskins @ Rams (9/17) 32
—Sunday night Raiders @ Redskins (9/24) 39

The pace picks up at Redskins Park

The Redskins have returned from Richmond and they get to work in Ashburn today with a 1 p.m. practice. It has been nearly week since their first preseason game. Now they have three days to get ready to play the Packers on Saturday. After that, things keep moving quickly as the Redskins get ready to play the Eagles in the season opener on September 10.

—They will have a week of practice that is close to a regular-season week. They play the Bengals on Sunday afternoon at FedEx Field so they will have a full seven day’s to get ready for so-called “dress rehearsal” for the regular season. I have the quotes around it because they still don’t game plan or scout the opponent much if at all. But the starters should play at least the first half.

—After that, it’s quick turnaround as they get a couple of days of practice before heading down to Tampa to play the Bucs in the fourth preseason game on Thursday night. The short turnaround isn’t much of a concern as it will be the front-line players participating in the Bengals game and the bottom half of the roster scrapping for the last four to six spots still up for grabs will be playing at Raymond James Stadium.  

—The coaches don’t get much of a breather after that. After the clock hits 0:00 in Tampa they will have about 40 hours to get the roster cut down to 53. Starting this year, there is no first cut prior to the fourth preseason game so they go from 89 (Trent Murphy going to injured reserve takes care of one roster reduction already) to 53. That means that 36 decisions must be made and 36 players must be informed that they are no longer part of the team.

—After 1 p.m. on Sunday, the Redskins can start signing members of their 10-player practice squad. While many of them are likely to come from the pool of players they just cut, not all of them will. The team then starts to prepare for the regular season.

—For the final item here, an answer to a fan’s question from Twitter.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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What Su'a Cravens's surgery means for the Redskins' safety plans

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USA Today Sports

What Su'a Cravens's surgery means for the Redskins' safety plans

Su'a Cravens will miss the entire preseason for the Redskins, save for three snaps already logged against the Ravens.

In those three snaps, Cravens injured his knee, and on Tuesday, Adam Schefter reported the second-year safety will undergo surgery on the knee

The surgery will clean up swelling that occured in his knee following the Ravens game, per a source, and Cravens should be good to go for Washington in Week 1 of the regular season. 

For Redskins fans, there might be some reason to worry.

One argument might suggest that Cravens has never played safety in the NFL after being used his entire rookie season as a linebacker. Therefore, Cravens needs the practice reps as a safety. 

<<CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS FROM REDSKINS TRAINING CAMP>>

 

While certainly he could use the practice at safety, this concern seemse overblown. Cravens is a much more natural player in the secondary than he ever was at linebacker. In college, Cravens played his best at safety, and his versatility will allow him to do more from the safety spot.

Cravens has already dealt with a number of different injuries, and perhaps that might concern 'Skins fans. As a rookie, Cravens missed time with a concussion and then late in the year with an upper arm injury. He played in 11 of 16 games last year. None of the injuries seem like the lingering type, which is good news. 

With Cravens out the Redskins will turn to Deshazor Everett, a third year player out of Texas A&M. Primarily a special teams force, Everett got minimal playing time at safety in 2016. In his only real opportunity to play with the defense in a Week 14 win at Philadelphia, Everett grabbed a vitally important interception in the end zone. 

Everett is unknown, but has ability. He also has a big opportunity these next three games playing alongside D.J. Swearinger. 

Behind Everett, the Redskins best options are both working back from injuries. Rookie Montae Nicholson, a somewhat surprising fourth-round selection out of Michigan State, just returned to team drills during the last few practices in Richmond. Nicholson has size and track speed, but much remains to be seen if he can improve his cover and tackling ability. 

Don't forget about veteran DeAngelo Hall. He started the season on the PUP list, expectedly, after landing on the injured reserve in 2016. Hall hasn't played a full season since 2013, when Mike Shanahan was still the Redskins coach and RG3 the starting quarterback. A lot has changed since then. 

Watching from the sidelines in Richmond during training camp, Hall seemed more of a coach than a player working back from injury, though he was seen running on the drill field late in camp. It would be a major surprise if Hall played in the preseason.

The Redskins intend to go with Cravens against the Eagles. Everett will be the backup plan. Nicholson has much to prove, and Hall still seems far away from seeing the field as a player. 

MORE REDSKINS: With Murphy out, Redskins to rely more on injury-prone Galette

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