Here is my reading of the tea leaves on the injury outlook for this weeks game against the Bucs.Trent Williams(knee, out of practice on Wednesday)Id be very surprised if he plays. He did not practice on Wednesday and it looks like a week of rehab is in the offing. Redskins fans (and RG3) need to brace themselves for four quarters of Jordan Black. He should be better after getting a week of practice but hes still no Trent Williams and there is no question that the Bucs will test him early and often. It seems likely that Maurice Hurt will become the backup tackle and that Josh LeRibeus will be active and back up the interior line.Pierre Garon(limited)Id be very surprised if he doesnt play. He said yesterday that theres a lot of progress towards the injury getting healed. There will still be some sandbagging going on but it is hard to believe that this injury will keep him out for a third full game.Cedric Griffin(hamstring, out)There seems to be very little chance that his hamstring will be well enough for him to play. The Redskins have tended to be cautious with hamstrings and Griffin likely will sit. That will press rookie Richard Crawford into duty as the nickel corner and means that David Jones, just signed back to the roster after the team released him during the final cuts, will be active on Sunday.Brandon Meriweather(knee, limited)Flip a coin. This was projected to be a two-to-four-week injury and this would be the fourth game. That he was limited is a good sign but he was limited last week, too.Evan Royster(knee, limited)He said hes optimistic about being able to play but players usually are. Alfred Morris is healthy and if they think that Ryan Grant would be able to carry the load if needed, I think theyll sit Royster.
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.