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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

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Over/under: Redskins running backs in 2017

Over/under: Redskins running backs in 2017

Redskins running backs over-under

The Redskins’ running backs depth chart looks quite different from how it did a year ago. Rob Kelley, who was “ninth-string” back last year per Jay Gruden, is the starter. Samaje Perine enters the mix with expectations that exceed those normally assigned to a fourth-round pick. Chris Thompson is the constant as the third-down back. What kind of numbers will they put up this year? Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay go over-under on some Redskins running back stats. 

Rob Kelley, 1,000 rushing yards

Tandler: If you project Kelley’s production in the nine games he started over 16 games it comes to about 1,050 yards. He had his ups and downs in those nine starts and he will have them this year. But he should have enough ups to be able to average the 62.5 yards per game needed to hit the thousand-yard mark. Over

Finlay: Unlike wide receivers, where 25 guys broke the 1,000 yard mark in 2016, it's getting harder and harder for a running back to hit four-figures. In 2016, only 12 RBs ran for more than 1,000 yards, and only eight got over 1,100 yards. As the NFL becomes more and more of a passing league, less backs are getting the carries sufficient for a 1,000 yard season. The Redskins haven't had a 1,000 yard rusher since Alfred Morris in 2014. While I think Kelley gets the bulk of the yardage, I think it caps out about 900 yards and Chris Thompson and Samaje Perine creep into the total. Under

RELATED: Who's next at QB for the Redskins?

Kelley, 10 rushing touchdowns

Tandler: He scored six as the starter last year and doing the math that comes to 11 over 16 games. But last year there wasn’t a player like Perine, who could come into the game and vulture some touchdowns after Kelley did the work to get the ball in goal to go position. Under

Finlay: Sorry to keep going back to stats, but last year only seven running backs got to 10 TDs or more. Only seven! Hard to see Kelley getting there on a team that didn't run all that much, or all that well either, in 2016. Under

Samaje Perine, 500 rushing yards

Tandler: It tough to set a line for a guy who hasn’t played. I’ll go off Matt Jones’ 2015 rookie season when he gained 490 yards while sharing time with Alfred Morris. If Perine averages four yards per carry, which is not hard to do, he’ll need about eight carries per game to get to 500. It’s close but if Kelley is effective, as I believe he will be, Perine might not get enough carries to have a chance. Under

Finlay: Tandler's Matt Jones comp pretty much works for Perine, but Jones had explosive speed that Perine doesn't have. A better comp for me was Derrick Henry last year as a rookie with the Titans. DeMarco Murray was established as the top dog, and Henry worked for a productive 490 yards. Under

MORE REDSKINS: Offer to Cousins not nearly enough

Chris Thompson, 60 pass receptions

Tandler: His role is beyond just third down. If the Redskins are behind in the fourth quarter, Thompson is usually in there to try to help spark a rally. Along with TE Jordan Reed and WR Jamison Crowder, Thompson will benefit from Kirk Cousins’ familiarity with him. Over

Finlay: Thompson should be a strong contributor in 2017, but 60 catches is a lot for a running back. Only David Johnson (80) and Le'Veon Bell (75) went over that number in 2016, while James White had exactly 60 catches. Thompson grabbed 49 balls in 2016, an impressive total. I could actually see Thompson getting a bigger percentage increase in carries, he had 68 rushes last season with a very solid 5.2 YPC, than catches. Under

<<<NFL POWER RANKINGS: WHO GOT BETTER AFTER THE DRAFT>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, 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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#RedskinsTalk Podcast: Final refresh before 2017 season truly begins

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#RedskinsTalk Podcast: Final refresh before 2017 season truly begins

Rich Tandler and JP Finlay wrap up the Redskins offseason and prepare for what will be the most intriguing and the most overplayed storylines at training camp in Richmond.

<<<NFL POWER RANKINGS: WHO GOT BETTER AFTER THE DRAFT>>>

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