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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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Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

The Redskins offense performed at a high level in 2016, moving the ball well though the unit struggled in the red zone. Much of the success comes from Kirk Cousins' ability to quickly advance through his progressions and release the football before he takes too many hits.

Expect more of that in 2017, especially early in the season.

The Redskins don't face their first Top 5 sack defense until Week 9 when they travel to Seattle. From there, Cousins will face another Top 5 sack team when the Vikings visit FedEx Field in Week 10. 

After that, Washington's schedule doesn't feature a Top 5 sack defense until nearly Christmas. Unfortunately for Cousins, those two teams will come back to back in December when the Redskins host the Cardinals and the Broncos.

Sacks should not drive too much worry for Redskins fans. The Washington offensive line only allowed 23 sacks last season, two less than the Cowboys vaunted offensive line gave up on Dak Prescott. Cousins quick release and mastery of Jay Gruden's offense helps too. 

The Redskins have plenty to worry about in 2017, though facing fierce sack opponents shouldn't be too high on the list. 

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Need to Know: The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Need to Know: The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, June 25, 32 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 175 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 77 days.

Days until:

—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/17) 22
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 46
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 69

The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Here are the five running backs on the Redskins’ schedule who gained the most yards in 2017. We looked at the top QBs last week.

Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys, 1,631 yards in 2016—The NFL’s leading rusher didn’t pop for a big day against the Redskins as a rookie last year. He still did plenty of damage in two games with a combined 180 yards and three touchdowns. We’ll find out in Week 8 just how much the Redskins’ rushing defense has improved.

David Johnson, Cardinals, 1,239 yards—Yeah, him again. He chewed up the Redskins in Arizona last year, picking up 84 yards rushing and another 91 yards receiving. I think I might pick Johnson over Elliott in a draft simply due to Johnson’s versatility.

LeGarrette Blount, Eagles, 1,161 yards—Blount picked up those yards with the Patriots last year and rushed for 18 touchdowns for good measure. He averaged 3.9 yards per carry, 27th among qualifying running backs. It should be noted that the Eagles probably have a better offensive line than the Patriots do. It’s safe to say Blount is one dimensional; none of the top 50 in rushing yards had fewer than his seven receptions.

Mark Ingram, Saints, 1,043 yards—While Ingram had a good year, the Saints apparently weren’t overly impressed. They signed Adrian Peterson as a free agent and they drafted RB Alvin Kamara in the third round. We’ll have to see who is healthy and on the field in Week 11

Melvin Gordon, Chargers, 997 yards—The 2015 first-round pick missed the last three games and most of another one with an injury. When healthy, he was very effective. His stats projected over 16 games come to over 1,300 yards.

Best of the rest: Carlos Hyde of the 49ers just missed the top five with 988 rushing yards last year Besides Kamara, the only running backs drafted in the first three rounds the Redskins will face are Dalvin Cook (Vikings) and Kareem Hunt (Chiefs). It will be interesting to see if new Rams coach Sean McVay can revive Todd Gurley, who followed a 1,100-yard rookie season with a 4.8 per carry average by gaining 885 yards with a paltry 3.2 average in 2016. Marshawn Lynch comes to town with the Raiders after spending a year in retirement; with the Seahawks, he picked up 111, 72, and 132 on the ground against the Redskins. 

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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