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Need to Know: Free agency begins with Redskins relatively tight on cap space

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Need to Know: Free agency begins with Redskins relatively tight on cap space

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, March 9, the day NFL free agency starts.

Redskins fans should tamp down their expectations

It used to be that the day that free agency started was like Christmas Day for Redskins fans. There would be all sorts of presents under the tree—a safety here, a guard there, maybe a running back and a big defensive lineman. And all paid for out of Dan Snyder’s checkbook (and before that they were courtesy of Jack Kent Cook or his foundation).

On closer examination, however, everyone found out that the new toys were not all shiny and new. That safety had lost a step from when he was in Toys R Us and he had a slightly damaged shoulder. The running back who used to be able to break long runs with regularity was getting caught from behind after just a few steps. The D-lineman just didn’t move like he used to.

By midseason the fans had lost interest in the new toys because, well, they weren’t really new and they weren’t much fun. The talk turned to their wish list for the following Christmas, assuming that the team could somehow work its budget to make it happen.

I think that this point most fans are wise to the false hope that that the NFL sells at this time every year. And even if the Redskins were still interested in buying those beat-up toys that are on the market their team really doesn’t have the means to do so.

Right now they are sitting on about $20 million in salary cap space. That sounds like a lot but it’s not. There are 16 teams that have more to spend than they do. Of those, 14 have $30 million or more to spend. It will be easy for many teams to outbid them for players.

And that money will go fast. It will cost about $3 million to bring back Mason Foster, probably another $4 million for Junior Galette. The will need a starting nose tackle, which will run about $4 million and a mid-range strong safety, which will run about $3 million. Oh, and don’t forget that Kirk Cousins is the only QB on the roster. Colt McCoy or another veteran backup will cost at least $3 million.

So that totals $17 million. So you’ve got $3 million left to pay players on injured reserve and injury settlements and pay your practice squad. That could get tight.

Sure, they can create more room by letting go of players like Perry Riley and Andre Roberts. But instead of buying more false hope in the form of free agents with that money, how about taking care of Jordan Reed and locking him up for next several years rather than having him hit free agency in 2017?

There will not be many new toys under the tree this year. That’s not how Scot McCloughan likes to build. Christmas will have to wait until April 28 when the NFL Draft gets underway.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 59 days ago. It will be about 186 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 40; 2016 NFL draft 50

In case you missed it

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The Redskins plan to add multiple new front office positions, according to Bruce Allen

The Redskins plan to add multiple new front office positions, according to Bruce Allen

The Redskins will be adding as many as three new positions to their front office, team president Bruce Allen said on Monday.

Speaking with the media at the Redskins Charitable Golf Foundation, Allen explained that he has spoken with 12 people from outside the organization about possible jobs.

Many wondered if the Redskins would make a hire after the early March firing of former general manager Scot McCloughan.

Reports showed that Allen wanted to promote a new GM from within, and that could still be the case. Doug Williams, Scott Campbell and Eric Schaefer are considered the internal leaders for the vacant position.

MORE REDSKINS: Who will stand out this season and who will disappoint?

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcasts, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

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What — if anything — can Redskins learn from Patriots' situation with Jimmy Garoppolo?

What — if anything — can Redskins learn from Patriots' situation with Jimmy Garoppolo?

Despite reports of a highly motivated trade market for Jimmy Garoppolo, the New England Patriots decided to hold on to their backup quarterback this offseason. It's easy to dismiss the notion of keeping Garoppolo as just one part of the unique genius of Pats coach Bill Belichick, but that might be overly simplistic.

In an article last week for MMQB.com, Albert Breer writes that New England ultimately decided there is more value in a QB a team trusts than a package of draft picks, even high draft picks.

Your off-season lesson for this week: Having a good young quarterback on your own roster is more important than what he’s worth as an asset.

The emphasis belongs to Breer, and it could be an interesting lesson for Redskins fans. 

A vocal part of the fan base believed that Washington should have moved QB Kirk Cousins before the draft. The logic went that since the Redskins can't get a long-term deal done with Cousins, the organiztion should maximize the value with the passer and trade him, potentially for the first or second overall pick in the 2017 draft.

Breer's argument, however, might poke holes in that theory. 

Belichick and the Pats decided to keep Garoppolo despite plenty of reasons to move the young signal caller. The first - and super obvious - reason being a healthy Tom Brady. That needs no explanation.

Beyond Brady, Breer explains that it seems more likely Garoppolo's stock will actually decrease in 2017, just because it's so high right now. Looking ahead to the 2018 draft, a number of quarterbacks are expected to be worth high selections, starting with USC quarterback Sam Darnold.

If there was a time to move Garoppolo, it would have been this offseason. And Belichick didn't do it. That suggests the Patriots want to keep the former Eastern Illinois product playing in Foxborough, especially if age ever catches up to the 39-year-old Brady. 

One more note on Garopollo - he is slated for free agency in 2018. Just like Cousins. It's entirely possible Jimmy G walks in free agency next season, and the Pats get no compensation. The exact same possibility is in play for Cousins and the Redskins. New England could franchise Garoppolo too next offseason, as has been the case for Cousins the last two seasons in Burgundy and Gold. 

The truth is Garoppolo has thrown less than 100 passes in the NFL. Cousins threw more than 600 just last season. There is no true comparison for Cousins' situation, just as there isn't for Garoppolo's. Both players have great value. Cousins has proved he's an NFL starter. Garoppolo certainly looked like one in two starts in 2016. 

One key takeaway: Belichick opted to keep Garoppolo this year, even though the Patriots could have recouped a lot of value, and knowing that the 2018 QB market should be significantly better than the 2017 crop. And that's with a very uncertain contract future for Garoppolo and the organization.

In some ways, the Redskins and Bruce Allen made the same decision with Cousins. It could certainly backfire. Cousins might leave next offseason and Washington gets nothing in return. Still, the Redskins will have their passer for 2017, and with an improved defense, should be an NFC playoff contender. It also remains possible the team finalizes a deal with Cousins before the July 15th deadline. It's not probably, but definitely possible. 

But in a league where most can only hope to emulate the success in New England, maybe, just maybe, Washington is following the Patriots handbook. 

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Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcasts, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back