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Looking ahead: Redskins should have substantial salary cap space in 2016

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Looking ahead: Redskins should have substantial salary cap space in 2016

The Redskins should have a substantial amount of salary cap room to work with as Scot McCloughan works to continue to rebuild a team that has been struggling for most of the last 25 years.

As of right now, the Redskins have $142.3 million in salary cap expenditures on the books for 2016 (cap information via Over the Cap). The cap for next year is expected to increase from $143.8 million to somewhere in the vicinity of $150 million. In the last few years, the early estimates on the year over year cap increases have proven to be too conservative so the ’16 cap could well be more than $150 million. But that is the number we will use for the calculations here.

So at first glance the Redskins have only about $7.7 million in cap space but there are plenty of adjustments that need to be made here. The first one is going to subtract from the available space. As of now, they have 47 players under contract for 2016. When the league year starts on March 9 the top 51 cap numbers on the books will count the limit. To account for this we will add four players at 2016 first-year minimum salaries of $445,000. That will bring their expenditures up to $144.1 million and their cap space down to $5.9 million.

Now we can start adding to the cap space. There are currently about $7 million under the cap for this year and they will be able to roll any unspent money into their 2016 cap. They may have to spend some of that $7 million if any more players wind up on injured reserve since they would have to sign replacements. So let’s go with $6 million getting rolled over into next year, giving them $11.9 million in 2016 cap space.

Now let’s look at possible salary cap cuts. One player whose current contract certainly won’t be on the books next year is Robert Griffin III. His option year salary is occupying $16.1 million in next year’s cap. It seems highly unlikely that he will be back next year but even if he is it won’t be at his option year salary. He will be released before the salary becomes fully guaranteed on March 9, freeing up that cap space and putting the Redskins at $28 million.

Griffin is unlikely to be the only cap casualty. Here are some players who look like they could be candidates to be released due to some combination of salary, age, health, and performance.

Player-age 2016 opening day-net cap savings

  • WR DeSean Jackson, 29, $6.7 million
  • S Dashon Goldson, 32, $8 million
  • DE Jason Hatcher, 34, $4.2 million
  • CB DeAngelo Hall, 32, $3.4 million
  • WR Andre Roberts, 28, $3.0 million

If the Redskins release all of the players—and in reality they probably will release some, keep some, and negotiate salary reductions for some—they would take another $25.3 million off of their cap. That means that they potentially could go into the league year with $53.3 million in cap space.

They will have to use some of that cap space to sign some of their own free agents (post on that coming tomorrow). But their two high-dollar players, Kerrigan and Williams, are already accounted for. And, again, not all of the potential cap casualties will actually be released. In any case, the Redskins will have plenty of flexibility and a lack of cap space will not be an obstacle towards McCloughan accomplishing what he believes he needs to do.

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A Redskin fan's guide to the NFL Draft Combine

A Redskin fan's guide to the NFL Draft Combine

This week in Indianapolis the NFL world will converge at the Scouting Combine to watch college football players work out, sprint and lift weights in anticipation of the upcoming draft. For the Redskins front office, this draft needs to be a win.

The 2016 Draft could still yield strong results for Washington, but overall the class did not play particularly well as rookies. This year, Scot McCloughan has nine picks at his disposal, with the extra picks late in the draft in the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds.

It's no secret that the 'Skins need help along the defensive line, a lot of help. That should be a major area of focus for the Redskins scouts and coaches, and that will make next Sunday arguably the most important of the week in Indianapolis. 

The combine divides players into 11 position groups, but Groups 7, 8 and 9 will matter most. Groups 7 and 8 represent defensive linemen and 9 are the linebackers. That group officially arrives on Thursday but won't work out on the field until Sunday. The days in between include interviews, psychological testing and the bench press.

Obviously the Redskins won't spend all nine picks on only defensive linemen. The team will likely invest in the offensive line as well, and that group will arrive earlier in the week and work out on Friday. Cornerbacks and safeties are the last to work out on Monday, March 6. 

With the likely departure of at least one of DeSean Jackson or Pierre Garçon, and the possible departure of both, it would make sense for the 'Skins to bring in another receiver via the draft. They work out on Saturday, and should the Redskins decide to take a quarterback in the draft, the passers will work out that day too. 

Running back could be another spot the 'Skins invest. Jay Gruden said that Robert Kelley is locked into the RB1 role, but still the team might want increased competition at the position. The backs will work out Friday.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Why won’t Redskins brass talk to the media at the NFL Combine?

Why won’t Redskins brass talk to the media at the NFL Combine?

The NFL has released the official schedule of when NFL coaches and executives will take the podium and address the media at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. You can find it right here but I’ll save you a click—nobody from the Redskins is scheduled to talk.

NFL teams are not required to have a representative speak at the combine but most do. This year only the Saints and Patriots are joining the Redskins in avoiding the media.

Bill Belichick never talks at the combine and I believe that the Saints have bypassed the opportunity to do so in the past. However, the Redskins head coach traditionally has gone to the podium in the past. Joe Gibbs spoke when he was in his second stint as the head coach. Mike Shanahan, as tight lipped as anyone, met with the press in Indy each of his four years as head coach. Jay Gruden has spoken during each of the three years that he has been head coach.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 3.0

And last year Scot McCloughan held a small media gaggle with local reporters in his hotel in Indianapolis.

This year the Redskins are going somewhat dark. McCloughan did not speak to reporters at the Senior Bowl (Gruden held a brief availability in Mobile), a departure from his first two years with the team. And now no Redskins representatives at the combine.

One of the problems with changing what has been a longstanding practice and going into radio silence is that it leaves people speculating. If the team doesn’t want to put any information out there that is the organization’s option. But if you choose not to fill in the blanks, the fans and media will.

So why aren’t they talking? The best bet is that they are in a delicate stage when it comes to dealing with the future of quarterback Kirk Cousins. He is a pending free agent who is likely to be hit with the franchise tag on Wednesday, the day before the combine starts. At that point, the clock will be ticking on Cousins either signing a long-term contract or getting traded to a team that is willing to meet his asking price. It’s my guess that Jay Gruden does not want to face questions about Cousins’ future.

More Redskins: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice for his own good?

Gruden is not a very good liar; his poker face needs a lot of work. Perhaps that is a good quality for a human being but not a very good attribute for someone who would need to go out and talk about Cousins as the long-term quarterback for the team, or at least the QB for the coming season, when his status may be very much in doubt.

This is not to say that there is definitely going to be a trade of Cousins worked out at the combine. But it is very possible that a deal will be discussed with Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers and any number of other quarterback-needy teams. And perhaps there is concern that Gruden will let something slip or, more likely, say a lot on the subject of Cousins by not saying anything.

Again, this is just reading the tea leaves on my part. But by going silent the Redskins are sending an invitation for people to fill in the blanks. I am just taking them up on it.

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.