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Like all NFL teams, Redskins play a zero-sum game in free agency

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Like all NFL teams, Redskins play a zero-sum game in free agency

Saints coach Sean Payton recently talked about the challenges the team faces in trying to keep pending free agent tight end Jimmy Graham on their team.

“The first thing that comes to my mind with free agency is your own roster,” Payton told Fox Sports 1 (via the Times-Picayune). “I think often times that gets overlooked. The most challenging part of your job as a coach, and I share that with [Saints G. M.] Mickey ]Loomis] or anyone that has been with an organization as long as we have been, going on year nine, is some of the tough decisions that have to be made with regards to your cap with the ability that you possibly can sign Jimmy Graham.”

Teams all around the NFL are making similar choices. In many ways, the NFL’s salary cap creates a zero-sum game. Money that is paid to one player can’t be used to attract or retain another player.

The Redskins are not in quite as tough a situation as are Payton and the Saints. New Orleans is about $12 million over the 2014 cap so they will have to release some players and restructure others just to be able to afford the $6.8 million tight end franchise tag for Graham.

Washington has some $30 million in salary cap space and the key player there is Brian Orakpo. Although he isn’t quite in the top tier of NFL pass rushers he’s pretty good and the Redskins believe they need him if they are going to turn around their defense.

But using the franchise tag on Orakpo will eat up almost $11 million in cap space and even a long-term deal with him won’t take up very much less than that. That’s over a third of their available space with major holes on both sides of the ball yet to be filled. That may force the Redskins to let go of some veterans and it certainly will prevent them from signing any other big names in free agency.

It’s about choices and if the Bruce Allen and company choose to keep Orakpo they will close off other options that may have helped the team. This will require them to be resourceful, find some lower-priced free agents to fill some holes, develop some of the 24 players they drafted from 2011-2013 who are still on the roster, and draft well.

It's important to note that even if the Redskins do decide to let Orakpo walk there still will be choices to make. Who replaces him, how much do you pay that player, how do you best utilize the money saved? The resources are still finite.

Redskins fans need to hope that they choose well.

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New #RedskinsTalk Podcast - A.J. Francis talks Jay Gruden, Greg Manusky and Kirk Cousins

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New #RedskinsTalk Podcast - A.J. Francis talks Jay Gruden, Greg Manusky and Kirk Cousins

Redskins defensive lineman A.J. Francis opens up to JP Finlay on what it's like to play for Jay Gruden, his pick for defensive coordinator, and the latest on Kirk Cousins' contract.

Listen below, and if you'd like to hear more from Francis, check out his pro wrestling podcast Jobbing Out Show here

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Redskins set to interview new defensive coordinator candidate in Dennis Thurman, per report

Redskins set to interview new defensive coordinator candidate in Dennis Thurman, per report

The Redskins have conducted interviews with a number of candidates at defensive coordinator, but a new name emerged Thursday morning. 

Thurman played cornerback in the NFL for nine years from 1978 to 1986, recording 36 career interceptions in 137 games. The bulk of his playing career was spent with the Dallas Cowboys, but he played his final season with the then St. Louis Rams. 

In coaching since 1988, Thurman's coaching career started working with the secondary for the Cardinals before an eight-year run at his alma mater, Southern Cal. From there, Thurman came back to the pros, joining the Ravens coaching staff in 2002 working under Rex Ryan. In 2008, Thurman moved on with Ryan to the New York Jets, and in 2013, was named Jets defensive coordinator In 2014, he went to Buffalo with Ryan to serve as their defensive coordinator when Ryan was named head coach.

In four seasons as a coordinator, two in New York, two in Buffalo, Thurman's defenses ranked no worse than 19th, per Pro Football Reference.

A football lifer like Thurman likely has connections all over the league, but it's interesting to note he has worked with new Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn since 2009. The two were on staffs both with the Jets and the Bills. Another Redskins coordinator candidate Gus Bradley has often been linked with Lynn, though the two have never been on the same staff.

Meeting with Thurman will satisfy the NFL's guidelines to interview minority candidates for coordinator positions. The Rooney Rule, as it was instituted, requires NFL teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching jobs, but only suggests that teams extend the practice to coordinator positions. Washington had set an interview with Carolina's Steve Wilks, but then he was promoted internally to be the Panthers defensive coordinator and the meeting never took place. 

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!