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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: After worst to first in 2016, how strong will NFC East be?

Redskins Playbook: After worst to first in 2016, how strong will NFC East be?

When the Redskins won the NFC East in 2015 with a 9-7 record, most critics dismissed the division as weak. That theory was largely proved right when the Redskins got stomped at home in the first round of the playoffs by the Wild Card Green Bay Packers.

In 2016, however, the NFC East largely looked like the best division in football, or at least among the best divisions. Dallas won 13 games and took the NFC East title, the Giants won 11 and took the NFC's top Wild Card spot. The Redskins had a chance to make the playoffs in Week 17, but unceremoniously lost and fell short.

Still, Washington won eight games and Philadelphia won seven. In fact, the NFC East was the only division in the NFL without a team that lost 10 or more games. The AFC West - a division that some would argue was tougher than the NFC East - still had the Chargers and their 5-11 record.

What does it mean for 2017? If anything the only team expected to regress would be the Cowboys, and their regression could easily still have them looking to win around 10 games. 

The Eagles have improved with young, star QB Carson Wentz. New York will be interesting, as they have some age at various spots on their roster but still feature a two-time Super Bowl winning QB in Eli Manning and one of the best defenses in the NFL.

As for Washington? The defense should be much improved. It almost has to be as the 2016 version struggled significantly. If the defense can just be average (and I'd argue it could push for Top 15) the offense should continue to move the ball well. Producing in the red zone needs to look different than last season too.

The NFC East looks like a beast yet again. It would be no surprise if both NFC Wild Cards come from the division.

Let us know what you think in the comments. 

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Need to Know:Redskins faced one of the toughest schedules in NFL in 2016

Need to Know:Redskins faced one of the toughest schedules in NFL in 2016

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, May 28, 16 days before the Washington Redskins start their mandatory minicamp on June 13.

Timeline

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/27) 60
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 74
—Season opener Eagles @ Redskins (9/10) 105

Note: I am on vacation this week in the Outer Banks. Need to Know will be a mix of new content and some of the most popular posts of 2017.

Redskins faced one of NFL’s toughest slates in 2016

(originally posted January 28)

As the Redskins came off their 2015 playoff season and looked towards 2016, one thing jumped out. Even before any games were played it looked like their path to a repeat playoff appearance would be difficult, more so than it was when they went 9-7 and took the NFC East title.

The 2015 schedule looked fairly easy when applying the eyeball test. They played just two games against teams that made the playoffs and those teams, the Patriots and Panthers, plus the Jets were the only teams they faced that finished the season with winning records.

The eyeball test was borne out by the numbers. According to the stat gurus at Football Outsiders the Redskins faced the 28th toughest schedule in terms of the DVOA of opposing defenses and the opposing offenses added up to the 24th most difficult.

The going was considerably tougher in 2016. The Redskins played seven games against teams that were in the playoff field. The defenses they faced stacked up as the toughest group of any NFL team. They played nine games against teams that finished in the top 11 in defensive DVOA. The offenses they faced were a little better than average, ranking 13th as a group.

While the Redskins’ season was widely regarded as a disappointment, it would be reasonable to say that given vastly improved quality of the competition that they did well in only having their record drop by half a game.

Of course, the goal is to be good enough to prosper and make the playoffs no matter what mix of teams the luck of the draw happens to put on the schedule. They will need to get there in a hurry. Awaiting the Redskins on their 2017 schedule are seven 2016 playoff teams plus one more that finished the year with a winning record.

The fortunes of NFL teams can’t always be predicted in advance, especially more than seven months before the season kicks off. But it’s safe to say that the 2017 slate will be challenging. If they are going to improve their record they are going to have to improve their level of play dramatically.

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.