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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: Last look at Redskins vs. Raiders

Need to Know: Last look at Redskins vs. Raiders

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, September 26, six days before the Washington Redskins play Chiefs in Kansas City.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: No media availability

Days until:

—Monday night Redskins @ Eagles (10/23) 27
—Cowboys @ Redskins (10/29) 33

Last look at Redskins vs. Raiders

—I could fill up this entire post with numbers that demonstrate just how dominant the Redskins defense was on Sunday. Here’s one that impressed me—with the exception of two series that started with turnovers deep in Washington territory, the Raiders ran one play on the Redskins’ side of the field. Early in the second quarter, Derek Carr threw a short pass that Marshawn Lynch turned into an eight-yard gain to the Washington 48. On the next play, Kendall Fuller picked off Carr’s pass. That was it until Jamison Crowder muffed a punt, giving Oakland the ball at the Washington 21 with 47 seconds left in the third quarter.

Kirk Cousins passed for over 350 yards with three or more touchdowns and no interceptions for the fourth time as a Redskin. It is the first time Washington quarterback to do that more than once; Joe Theismann did it in 1982 and 1983. Colt McCoy and Mark Rypien did it once each. Cousins is the only one of the group to complete over 80 percent of his passes in such a game; he was 25 of 30, 83.3 percent.

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—Again, there are plenty of numbers but what set this game apart was the confidence and attitude on display, particularly on defense. The images that stick in my mind are plays like D.J. Swearinger leveling Marshawn Lynch, Preston Smith just dismissing a Lynch stiff arm to get the stop on third and two, Montae Nicholson getting a textbook legal hit on Michael Crabtree and Zach Brown sending ball carriers to the ground with a vengeance.

—Some are wondering if Mack Brown should be the main backup at running back when Rob Kelley returns from his rib injury, which could be this week. Samaje Perine seemed to miss some openings and at times he seemed to go down with a one-arm tackle. And he fumbled the ball away. But on Sunday night Jay Gruden said that once Kelley is back, Perine will be the backup and Brown is likely to return to the game-day inactive list.

—Let this sink in for a minute—prior to last night’s Cowboys-Cardinals game, the Redskins were fifth in the NFL in rushing attempts (90) and sixth in rushing yards (409). They are on pace to have 480 rushing attempts for 2,180 yards. Last year they ran it 379 times for 1,696 yards.

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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2017 NFL Power Rankings: Week 3 was awfully wacky, wasn't it?

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2017 NFL Power Rankings: Week 3 was awfully wacky, wasn't it?

After Week 2, it looked like the NFL was being divided into three tiers: The bottom feeders, the inconsistent squads and the leaders.

After Week 3, though, those tiers have largely fallen apart.

CLICK HERE FOR CSN'S UPDATED NFL POWER RANKINGS

Blowouts came out of nowhere. Favorites lost to underdogs. And Joe Flacco looked good! (OK, only the first two happened).

After a classically wacky week in the league, how have the power rankings shifted? Click the above or below link to find out.

CLICK HERE FOR CSN'S UPDATED NFL POWER RANKINGS