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Did the Redskins Overpay?

Did the Redskins Overpay?

As the Redskins have signed free agent after free agent over the past few days, the questions have kept popping up. How are they pulling this off with their supposed cap problems? And did they overpay for what they got?

The answer to the first one is easy. The Redskins’ cap guru, Eric Schaffer, is simply the best in the business. The organization doesn’t just throw around money; Schaffer crafts out each deal dollar by dollar, year by year to ensure that it fits within the team’s projected cap situation. The way Snyder runs the team generates the cash flow—cash beats cap—but it’s Schaffer who puts it all together.

Without going into details, (I’ve been told that the eyes of most of my readers here glaze over at such information) through the creative manipulation of the cap Schaffer and his team, helped by Snyder’s cash, can fit a six-year, $30 million contract with $10 million guaranteed into cap space of under $2 million in the first year.

And what about the other $28 million? Aren’t they just mortgaging the future, putting it on a big credit card that will come due at some point in the future?

Not really. To continue the credit card analogy, there a plenty of people out there who run up large credit card debts that manage them just fine. The bill for the balance never “comes due” as long as the money is managed properly with an eye towards the future. The debt can be refinanced and restructured as needed. You can keep on making purchases on the card as long as you stay under the limit and keep an eye towards the future. And you figure that as the years go by, you should be making more money, making the debt smaller relative to your income

The salary cap never “comes due”. It’s an ongoing thing. You can push money into future years indefinitely. As long as you don’t push too much into one season, you can keep doing it. Deals can be restructured and money pushed back. And the cap goes up from year to year, devaluing the dollars that you are pushing back.

To be sure, others use such maneuvers, but few do it as frequently and with such careful regard for the implications down the road as Schaffer does. Words like genius and mastermind get thrown around too often, but they apply to Schaffer. Should the team collect another Lombardi trophy in the next few years, Schaffer’s name should be engraved on it.
Perhaps one day the Petes and Lenny’s of the world will learn to praise the Skins’ cap management instead of predicting disaster year after year and then making snide comments about cheating when their forecasts bear no relationship to reality. I guess they’d rather continue to be wrong.

That’s how they paid. Now, did they overpay?

There is nary a Pro Bowl appearance among Adam Archuleta, Andre Carter, Brandon Lloyd and Antwaan Randle El. No league leadership in interceptions, receptions, or sacks among them. There are some highlight-reel moments starring some of these guys, no doubt. But their respective resumes, while better than pedestrian, are hardly the gold standard.

No gold changed hands, but a Brinks truck with some $40 million of guaranteed cash in it backed up to the facility at Redskins Park and dumped it on these four players (actually, Lloyd has not yet signed his deal, but he will get something in the neighborhood of $10 million guaranteed when he does). Did the Redskins pay filet mignon money for ground chuck?

First of all, in the year 2006, that is not filet mignon money. That went to center LeCharles Bentley, who the Browns are paying $36 million over six years with $12 million guaranteed, guard Steve Hutchison who will be paid $49 million over 7 years by either the Vikings or Seahawks, and running back Edgerrin James, who gets over $11 million guaranteed out of a four year, $30 million deal.

One thing that a lot of folks—media and fans alike—don’t seem to grasp is the fact that there is a lot more money to be spent this year than last. You hear a lot that each team’s cap went up $7.5 million due to the CBA extension. What you don’t hear much is that the cap was already slated to go up by $10 million even before the new labor agreement. Multiply that $17.5 million increase from 2005 to 2006 times the 32 NFL teams and you have over half a billion—that’s billion with a “b”—new cap dollars in play. It’s simple economics; when the money supply goes up, so do prices.

Still, it appears that the Redskins were happy to pay these guys more than anyone else was willing to. So, by that definition, they did overpay.
But if you get the player you want, it is really overpaying? Is it better to settle for someone who might save you a million or two but doesn’t quite fit your needs? A $2 million difference in guaranteed money on a six-year deal is $333,333 a season, or just less than the two-year veteran minimum salary. It adds up, no doubt, but it shouldn’t be enough to make you settle for second best.

Time will tell. Ultimately, the only thing that matters, the only way to judge whether or not the Redskins forked over too much money for a player, is results on the field. If the Redskins win and the new players fill their expected roles, it will have been worth every dollar and then some. If the team is not successful, it will be as though they had put a match to a dump truck full of $100 bills.

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You probably don't realize how effective Kirk Cousins is as a runner

You probably don't realize how effective Kirk Cousins is as a runner

Back at the 2012 NFL Combine, Kirk Cousins ran his 40-yard dash in 4.84 seconds.

Now, as far as QB 40-yard dashes go, that's not a bad number at all, but it's definitely not blazing, either. Defensive lineman Fletcher Cox, for example, ran his in 4.77 seconds that same year (while weighing 84 pounds heavier than the Michigan State signal caller), and 13 out of the 20 passers invited to the event topped Cousins' time.

That, plus the facts that Cousins isn't physically imposing and he clearly prefers to operate within the safe confines of the pocket, would lead you to believe that he's not much of a threat as a runner. But a stat — and this stat is far from an advanced one or a hidden one — indicates otherwise.

MORE: PLAYING OVER/UNDER ON SOME KEY KIRK COUSINS STATS

Over the last two seasons, Cousins has the third-most rushing touchdowns amongst quarterbacks. Cam Newton has 15 (not surprising), Tyrod Taylor checks in with 10 (also not surprising), and then there's Cousins, who rushed for nine scores in 2015 and 2016, which is good enough for a bronze medal on this particular podium (that's quite surprising).

Washington's starter has actually found the end zone with his legs more than peers like Andy Dalton (7), Alex Smith (7) and Aaron Rodgers (5) since taking over the primary gig in D.C., and all of those guys have reputations as runners that exceed Cousins'.

In fact, no one on the Burgundy and Gold has crossed the goal line as a ball-carrier more than the 28-year-old in the past 32 contests; Rob Kelley and Matt Jones are both three short of the man who lines up in front of them on Sundays.

Of course, Cousins isn't going to flatten defenders like Newton does, and he won't run around them like Taylor does. He also won't rip off big-gainers down the sideline when opposing team turns their back on him in man coverage.

But as the following highlights show, he hasn't just cashed in on one-yard sneaks the last couple of seasons, either:

All three of those plays were designed runs, and Cousins, while not exactly resembling Madden 2004 Michael Vickexecuted them perfectly. He doesn't really rack up yards — the numbers vary depending on which site you use, but the consensus is he's picked up about 150 total since 2015 — but Jay Gruden and Co. have developed a tremendous feel of when to use Cousins' feet instead of his arm in the red zone.

Sure, he's not going to show up on your Twitter timeline juking out a corner, and he won't scamper for much more than 10 yards at a time. But in a few games in 2017, Kirk Cousins is going to finish a drive with an impressive touchdown run instead of a throw, and that might shock you — even though it really shouldn't.

RELATED: RANKING THE REDSKINS ROSTER FROM BOTTOM TO TOP

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Cousins talk, back end of D

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Cousins talk, back end of D

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, July 22, five days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 202 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 50 days.

Days until:

—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 19
—Preseason vs. Packers at FedEx Field (8/19) 28
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 42

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics from the past week on www.CSNmidatlantic.com and on www.RealRedskins.com.

What would a fair Redskins contract offer to Kirk Cousins look like?  As it turns out, the offer the Redskins made fell below “fair” territory. But perhaps they recognized that a deal never was going to get done, not this year anyway. Cousins is content to see things unfold in 2017 and decide on a longer-term destination next year. So, the team’s offer was not high enough but there really wasn’t an offer that was going to be sufficient.

Cousins explains why he's not offended by Redskins statement—Bruce Allen raised plenty of eyebrows by detailing some of the team’s contract offer in a statement. Clearly the intent of the statement, which revealed some details that weren’t very impressive under closer inspection, was designed to turn public opinion in their favor. Cousins, appearing on the radio the next day, didn’t have a problem with it and said that Allen had told him that he would do it. As expected, plenty of fans and media types decided to be outraged in his place.

Redskins have plenty of 2018 cap room for possible Kirk Cousins offer—With the focus turning to 2018, the fact that the team will have about $60 million in cap space becomes relevant. It’s enough to give him the $35 million franchise tag and perhaps enough to match a front-loaded offer sheet if the Redskins use the transition tag. But the cautionary word is that they have at least a dozen starters and key contributors who also are set to be free agents next year. They will have to find money for them or their replacements somewhere.

Redskins depth chart preview--Safety—Cousins talk dominated the week but other topics did draw plenty of interest. The back end of the defense, with Su’a Cravens converting from linebacker and free agent D. J. Swearinger moving from being mostly a strong safety to playing free, will be under the microscope this year. Whether the defense gets better may hinge on the safety position. 

11 predictions for the 2017 Redskins offense—Does Trent Williams make the All-Pro team? How many yards for Rob Kelley? One prediction for each projected offensive starter here including how many non-receiving touchdowns for Jamison Crowder.

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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