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Need to Know: How much cap space do the Redskins need to sign their draft picks?

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Need to Know: How much cap space do the Redskins need to sign their draft picks?

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, March 17, 44 days before the Washington Redskins go on the clock at the NFL draft.

Question of the day

A few days a week I’ll give an in-depth answer to a question submitted by a fan on my Twitter feed, via the Real Redskins Facebook page, or in the comments section here. On Twitter address the questions to me at @Rich_TandlerCSN with the #NTK hashtag. There will be a comment thread set up on the Facebook page and if you’re asking your question here, put “for NTK” at the start of the comment.

Today’s question is from the Real Redskins Facebook page:

As we discussed here yesterday, the Redskins had $11.73 million in salary cap space. That was before they signed safety Jeron Johnson. We don’t have the details on that deal yet (reported to the for two years and $4 million) so we don’t know what the 2015 cap hit will be. But we can estimate they have about $10.5 million left and be close enough for our purposes here.

The Redskins will need a chunk of that money to pay their draft picks. As of now, they have seven picks, their own selection in each round. Thanks to the rookie slotting system that came into effect with the current CBA in 2011, the 2015 cap hit for each those draft picks can be determined now.

Washington has the fifth overall pick in the draft. That player, regardless of what position he plays or what he may have accomplished in college, will get a contract with a 2015 salary cap hit of $3.41 million per Over the Cap. Here are the hits for the Redskins other picks, rounded to the nearest $1,000.

Round-Cap hit

2-$970,000
3-$606,000
4-$554,000
5-$487,000
6-$464,000
7-$451,000

The total cap hits for rounds one through seven comes to $6.943 million. At first glance, if you subtract that from the $10.5 million they currently have it looks like the Redskins are getting very low on cash to spend.

But you don’t subtract nearly that much from the remaining cap space due to the Rule of 51. That rule applies during the offseason, from the start of the league year in March until Week 1 of the regular season. Teams have to be under the NFL salary cap of $143.28 million during that time, but since they can carry up to 90 players on the roster they can’t count everyone towards the cap. So the rule is that only the top 51 cap hits on the roster count towards cap during the offseason.

That means that when you add a player into the top 51 you drop the player with the lowest cap hit. So when the Redskins sign their first-round draft pick, Phillip Thomas, who has a cap hit of $510,000, will drop out of the top 51, so you subtract his money from the cap. So that $3.41 million deal counts a net of just $2.9 million.

It happens that the Redskins have a bunch of players with cap hits of $510,000, which is the third-year minimum salary, so when you knock Thomas off of the list of 51, he’s replaced in 51st place by another player making the same amount. So when you sign picks from rounds two, three, and four, you add their cap hits but you take off someone making $510,000 when you do. In all, picks 1-4 have total cap hits of $5.54 million. But with the Rule of 51 the net effect is a subtraction of $3.5 million from available cap space.

And since the picks in rounds five, six, and seven make less than $510,000 they don’t even count against the cap for the time being. So you wind up with a net cap hit of $3.5 million for the draft class of 2015.

As Keith noted in his questions, this could change with a draft trade but trades of picks for picks in the same draft don’t usually have a major effect on the cap consequences. The Redskins can figure on accounting for about $3.5 million in cap space for the draft regardless of how much wheeling and dealing Scot McCloughan may do.

Timeline

—It’s been 79 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 180 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 34; 2015 NFL Draft 44; Redskins training camp starts 135

If you have any questions about what's going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I'm always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Redskins defensive coordinator resume: Jason Tarver

Redskins defensive coordinator resume: Jason Tarver

The Redskins have interviewed some high-profile candidates for their open defensive coordinator position. When it was reported that they will meet with former Raiders defensive coordinator Jason Tarver, the reaction among the fans was, “Who?”

Let’s take a look at what Tarver’s qualifications are to get the job of running the Redskins’ defense.

Before becoming a coordinator: At the age of 22, Tarver took a coaching job at West Valley College in California, and did that while earning his bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Santa Clara. After that he was a graduate assistant at UCLA for three years before getting into the NFL in 2001, when the 49ers hired him as a quality control coach. Tarver worked his way up to outside linebackers coach in 2005 and did that job until 2010, when he was let go went Mike Singletary was fired as the head coach. After a year as the defensive coordinator at Stanford, Dennis Allen hired Tarver to run the Raiders defense in 2012.

More Redskins: Early first-round draft possibilities

Note: If you want more complete stats on Tarver’s defenses check out his page on Pro Football Reference. DVOA stats via Football Outsiders. A negative DVOA percentage is better than a positive number. Zero is average.

For players, * designates Pro Bowl selection, + designates first-team All-Pro

2012 Raiders (4-12)

Rankings: Yards 5,672 (18th), points 443 (28th), takeaways 19 (26th), 3rd down 39.1% (20th), DVOA 12.5% 29th
Notable players: DT Richard Seymour, DE Lamarr Houston

It should be noted that Allen had a defensive background so he had a hand in these numbers. This team just wasn’t very good as indicated by the fact that Seymour, at age 33, was one of their best defensive players.

2013 Raiders (4-12)

Rankings: Yards 5,918 (22nd), points 453 (29th), takeaways 22 (21st), 3rd down 43.1% (28th), DVOA 10.3% (26th)
Notable players: S Charles Woodson

They did make an effort to shore up the defense by bringing back Woodson and drafting cornerback D.J. Hayden in the first round. But Hayden only played in eight games and Woodson could only contribute so much at age 37. The pass defense struggled, ranking 29th in DVOA.

Related: Redskins offensive coordinator resume: Matt Cavanaugh

2014 Raiders (3-13)

Rankings: 5,721 (21st), points 452 (32nd), takeaways 14 (30th), 3rd down 38.5% (14th), DVOA 6.3% (26th)
Notable players: LB Khalil Mack, S Woodson

Allen was fired after an 0-4 start and Tony Sparano took over as interim head coach the rest of the way. Sparano has an offensive background so perhaps Tarver is more fully accountable for these results than those in other seasons. They did draft Mack with the fifth overall pick but his impact as a rookie was limited as recorded four sacks. Hayden again missed half of the season and, again, the defense was near the bottom of the NFL.

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page www.Facebook.com/RealRedskins and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.