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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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A possible trade destination for Redskins RB Matt Jones?

A possible trade destination for Redskins RB Matt Jones?

RICHMOND—The Redskins reportedly have been looking to trade running back Matt Jones since just before the draft. They may be able to find a partner just up I-95.

The Baltimore Ravens are in need of a running back after Kenneth Dixon suffered a season-ending knee injury earlier this week. Terrance West, who gained 774 yards on the ground last year, is healthy and returning but the Ravens want more depth at the position.

That is where Jones could come into play. The 2015 third-round pick of the Redskins was the unquestioned starter going into last season. But fumbling and other issues prompted Jay Gruden to make him inactive the last nine games of the season. Jones further fell out of favor by skipping OTAs this year, a move he made on the advice of his now-former agent.

RELATED: Is Cousins overrated?

Ravens coach Jim Harbaugh said last year that he liked Jones “a lot” in the 2015 draft and he could well still be intrigued by his size and speed. ESPN Ravens reporter Jamison Hensley said that Jones could be a good fit for the Ravens in their current situation.

It should be noted that Hensley seems to be engaging in informed speculation and not relaying anything he heard from the team’s decision makers. He also speaks of the possibility of Baltimore picking up Jones after the Redskins release him.

But there could be some incentive for the Ravens to talk trade with the Redskins rather than waiting for Jones to hit the waiver wire. For one thing, getting their new back in sooner rather than later would benefit the Ravens, allowing the player to get acclimated to his new quarterback and offensive line. While the Redskins are inevitably going to cut Jones, they have no incentive to do so before the final cuts just before the start of the season. Perhaps the Ravens will want to give up some minor compensation, something like a swap of sixth- and seventh-round picks, to get Jones in for the start of training camp.

MORE REDSKINS: Ranking the Redskins roster, the final update

Hensley also mentions the possibility that the Ravens will look at former Redskin Alfred Morris for depth at running back. He currently is buried on the Cowboys’ depth chart behind All-Pro Ezekiel Elliott and Darren McFadden. However, there is the possibility of a domestic-violence suspension on the horizon for Elliott. While the suspension is likely to be brief the Cowboys probably don’t want to depart with any running back depth until the matter has been settled.

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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Ranking the 2017 Redskins roster, the final update: 1-10

Ranking the 2017 Redskins roster, the final update: 1-10

At CSNmidatlantic.com we projected the Redskins’ 53-man roster (offense, defense) right after minicamp. Now we are taking it one step further and ranking the 53 players we think will make the team.

The rankings are determined by who we think will have the most impact on the 2017 Redskins. No consideration was given for past performance or for what a particular player might do down the road. We’ll be revealing the rankings over the next few weeks.

Today we’re updating the list with the players we ranked from 1-10. Here are some of the players in our latest update:

—A 2016 free agent who needs to make more big plays.

—A rookie expected to bolster one of the weakest units on the team.   

—Each of the five highest-paid players on the team.

—What you won’t find: Any players who will be over the age of 29 in Week 1.     

Go here to see our ranking of the 2017 Redskins, players 1-53.

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.