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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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NFL Draft 2017: Going 22 deep on possible Redskins first round picks

NFL Draft 2017: Going 22 deep on possible Redskins first round picks

A lot has changed since the end of the college football season, and that's obvious when you consider all of the names the Redskins might look at with the 17th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft on Thursday night. 

Some players have surged up draft boards on the strength of strong combine or pro day efforts. Other have dropped, due to unfortunate incidents, injuries or poor measurements.

 <<<CLICK HERE TO OPEN ALL-22 LOOK AT REDSKINS POSSIBLE DRAFT 1ST ROUND DRAFT PICK>>>

Think about players like Teez Tabor or Zach Cunningham. Those guys play in the SEC and seemed like first-round locks two months ago. Now the 'Skins might be able to value shop for those players in the second round.

The flip side: A plyer like Haason Reddick. A star at the Senior Bowl who really busted out at the Combine, the Redskins might love to have him but he could be a Top 10 selection.

 <<<CLICK HERE TO OPEN ALL-22 LOOK AT REDSKINS POSSIBLE DRAFT 1ST ROUND DRAFT PICK>>>

All sorts of legal trouble and diluted urine samples will also impact draft night. Injuries too, or even the thought of possible injuries.

Few sporting events are as wild as the first round of the NFL Draft. Stay tuned with CSN for all your Redskins coverage. Chick Hernandez and Rich Tandler will be in Ashburn with the team, JP Finlay will be live in Philadelphia as the chaos unfolds. 

RELATED: A LOOK AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS

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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Robert Kelley, Su'a Cravens, Colt McCoy among Redskins who'll have new numbers in 2017

Robert Kelley, Su'a Cravens, Colt McCoy among Redskins who'll have new numbers in 2017

The next time Robert Kelley plows over a helpless linebacker, he'll do it with a new number on his uniform.

The second-year running back is switching from No. 32 to No. 20, according to Redskins.com. And he's not the only returning player who'll take the field in 2017 with a new pair of digits.

Su'a Cravens will no longer be No. 36 for Washington. Instead, he'll change to No. 30. DJ Swearinger will be taking over No. 36 after coming over from the Cardinals, a number that he reportedly purchased from Cravens for $75,000

Then there's Colt McCoy. McCoy has donned No. 16 for the past three seasons, but he's throwing it back to his college days and will now rock No. 12.

MORE REDSKINS: THE ULTIMATE REDSKINS DRAFT PREVIEW

Finally, second-year corner Kendall Fuller only spent one year with No. 38. As he hopes to improve in his sophomore campaign, he'll be doing so with No. 29.

As for the free agents, Terrelle Pryor will be replacing DeSean Jackson in more ways than one when kickoff rolls around. Not only will the ex-Brown have to shine as a top receiver for Kirk Cousins like Jackson did, but he'll also be sporting Jackson's No. 11.

New linebacker Zach Brown, meanwhile, is now No. 56, linemen Stacy McGee and Terrell McClain are Nos. 92 and 97 respectively and Brian Quick will keep No. 83 from his Rams days.

For a complete list of all the changes, click here.

RELATED: IS REUBEN FOSTER WORTH THE RISK?