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Need to Know: How can the Redskins create more cap room?

Need to Know: How can the Redskins create more cap room?

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, February 26, 12 days before the start of NFL free agency.

How much cap space can the Redskins realistically create?

If the NFL salary cap is set at its current estimate of $155 million, the Redskins will have about $13.6 million in cap room. If we calculate in two transactions we know are going to happen—Robert Griffin III getting released, saving $16.1 million, and Kirk Cousins getting hit with the franchise tag, costing $19.6 million—Washington will go forward with $10.1 million.

With some free agents of their own to sign and some needs that can only be met in free agency, the Redskins will need to create some additional cap room. Here are some ways they could go about doing that (cap numbers via Over the Cap).

Cut Andre Roberts, savings $3 million—This signing was doomed almost from the start. About a month after Roberts signed, DeSean Jackson became available and Roberts was pushed back from No. 2 receiver to No. 3. But even when given opportunities he didn’t get the job done. He was a healthy scratch at times in 2015 and ended the year on injured reserve.

Renegotiate or release S Dashon Goldson, savings $4-$8 million—He has a $7.5 million salary and a $500,000 workout bonus. That makes him the fifth highest paid safety in 2016, a status his play clearly does not warrant. Negotiating a pay reduction to $4 million would reduce his pay to around 20th in the NFL, more suitable for a player who will be 32 in Week 2 of next season and whose play has declined from the All-Pro level that earned him the contract. If the Redskins choose to release him, there would be no dead salary cap.

Renegotiate or release DE Jason Hatcher, savings $3-$4.2 million—He has hinted at retirement, although Jay Gruden said yesterday that he might want to play another season. If he retires or is released it would save $4.2 million against the cap. They could work to reduce his $6.5 million salary and workout bonus, too. Hatcher was a good leader and he played better than his numbers indicated but he is still not worth the salary.

Release Kory Lichtensteiger, savings $2.9 million—The Redskins could look for an upgrade at center either in free agency or in the draft. Lichtensteiger was injured for most of last year and struggled at times when healthy. They could look for someone who is more suited to their power-blocking scheme than Lichtensteiger, who turns 31 next month. An alternative would be to release Shawn Lauvao, a move that would save $3 million. But he is currently injured so that may have to wait.

Release ILB Perry Riley, savings $4 million—If the team can retain Mason Foster they might let Riley go. He has been up and down since taking over the starting job midway through the 2011 season. If the Redskins don’t think that he can start it’s hard to see them paying a $4 million salary for a backup.

Those moves would create between $16.9 and $22.1 million in cap space, giving Washington anywhere from $27 million to $32.2 million in cap space after the anticipated quarterback moves.

Some other minor moves could be made but there aren’t any more potential big money-saving moves that haven’t been ruled out either directly by Jay Gruden and/or Scot McCloughan or via reliable reports. Players who have been subjects of media and/or fan speculation such as Pierre Garçon, DeSean Jackson, Chris Culliver, and DeAngelo Hall all appear to be very much in the team’s plans for 2016.

There could be a surprise down the line but as of right now it looks like the Redskins have enough cap room to take care of some basic needs but not much more.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 47 days ago. It will be about 198 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL free agency starts 12; Redskins offseason workouts start 52; 2016 NFL draft 63

In case you missed it

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Redskins promote CB Phillips from practice squad, waive Bruton Jr. and Clausell

Redskins promote CB Phillips from practice squad, waive Bruton Jr. and Clausell

The Redskins made a roster move just before departing for Arizona to play the Cardinals.

They signed cornerback Dashaun Phillips from the practice squad and cut offensive tackle Blaine Clausell. The Redskins also waived safety David Bruton Jr. off of injured reserve.

Phillips was the Redskins’ nickel corner for the first three games of the season, and he made four tackles and recovered a fumble. But they moved rookie Kendall Fuller up into the slot corner role in Week 4 and Phillips spent several weeks on the inactive list before being waived on November 12 and added to the practice squad three days later.

The moves became known after Redskins coach Jay Gruden had spoken to the media for the day so we can only speculate as to the reasoning behind them. Actually, the release of Clausell isn’t hard to figure out. He was signed after Trent Williams started his four-game suspension and with Williams set to return on Monday and the other options at backup tackle healthy there was no point in keeping him around.

Phillips is likely going to Arizona as an insurance policy. The Cardinals like to spread the field with a lot of wide receivers. They will want to have five cornerbacks active. They do have Josh Norman, Bashaud Breeland, Fuller, Quinton Dunbar, and Greg Toler. But Breeland is listed as questionable with an ankle injury and they Redskins don’t want to take any chance of being caught short-handed at cornerback if he suffers a setback. That’s especially true when they don’t need to bring an extra tackle along.

Depending on how things shake out injury-wise against the Cardinals there is a good chance that we could see Phillips on the waiver wire once again as a roster spot will be needed for Williams.

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Redskins-Cardinals injury report: Reed out, seven questionable

Redskins-Cardinals injury report: Reed out, seven questionable

Redskins

Out

TE Jordan Reed (shoulder)—The word heroic is thrown around too often when talking about what athletes do, in light if what, say, first responders do every day. But Reed playing in the second half out of the Dallas game with a third-degree AC joint sprain certainly was remarkable. But Gruden said that Reed won’t have sufficient range of motion in the shoulder or range of motion to be able to go against the Cardinals.

DE Anthony Lanier (leg)—The reserve lineman missed the second half of the Dallas game with a leg contusion. Gruden said he was kicked in the lower leg against the Cowboys and the swelling is still an issue.

Questionable

LS Nick Sundberg (back)—He tweaked his back in the weight room before the Packers game and missed that game and the one against the Cowboys. He was a full go in practice all week and will return against the Cardinals.

G Brandon Scherff (ankle)—He has been limited in practice during the week but it seems certain that he will go against the Cardinals.

T Ty Nsekhe (ankle)—Ditto comment on Scherff above.

CB Bashaud Breeland (ankle)—He suffered the injury in practice this week and he was limited in practice on Thursday.

RB Chris Thompson (illness)—He was limited in practice during the week but he said in the locker room he will have his usual role on Sunday.

Also questionable for the Redskins: ILB Terence Garvin (shoulder) and DE Ricky Jean Francois (knee)

Cardinals

Check back for the Cardinals injury update after they release their report later this afternoon.