In the Redskins and Cowboys two-sentence joint statement announcing their decision not to further contest their salary cap penalty case concluded by saying, We will continue to focus on our football teams and the 2012 season.As far as the Redskins are concerned, that means that they will have to figure out how they will go about doing business over the next two years minus 18 million in salary cap space per season. The penalty will hurt, no doubt, but it should not be crippling.As far as this year goes, the Redskins are some 3.8 million under the cap. They still have to sign their top three draft picks but even after that they will have a couple of million dollars to work with.Although under the rules teams dont need to be even a dollar under the cap, its not a good idea to go into the season with no cap room. For one thing, the salaries of players on injured reserve count towards the limit so you need to have some money set aside to cover that. And if an opportunity to sign a player who could help the team comes up, it is good to have the money set aside to be able to do that.They could create some more cap room by releasing players. The two most frequently discussed candidates for release are Chris Cooley and Santana Moss, both of whom have high cap numbers but are not expected to be starters. The team would save 3.9 million against this years cap by releasing Cooley after June 1 and 3.15 million if they cut Moss loose at that time.But they are not in a position where they are forced to cut Cooley or Moss or anybody else. Thanks to sound cap management, they were able to absorb the 18 million reduction in their cap, address at least some of their offseason free agency shopping list and re-sign key veterans such as London Fletcher.They are in good cap shape despite the penalty in part because they are only carrying about 2.9 million in dead cap space. Many teams have 10-15 million or more in dead cap and the Redskins used to be among the league leaders in dead cap annually. This means that almost every dollar of the cap is going towards compensation for players on the 2012 roster and is not on the book for players who are long gone.They also can survive the penalty because they have drafted 21 players in the past two years, the most in the NFL. In addition to bringing youthful enthusiasm to a team, draft choices are also cheap labor, especially in their first or second seasons. Having 20 or so recent draft picks on your roster always has been a good way to keep you cap total in check.Its early to look ahead to next year but it appears that the 18 million penalty will squeeze them and limit them in free agency but they should not have to release any players they do not want to let go of. Fred Davis is the only starter who is scheduled to be a free agent who might command a big contract.One source shows the Redskins with about 78 million in cap dollars committed for 2013. A lot can change there so its too early to base too much on that but it looks like they will have room to operate under a cap number that is likely to be in the 102 million range for them.The Redskins were not able to plan for getting slapped with the salary cap penalty this year as they knew nothing about it until about 24 hours before the start of free agency. But sound management prepares you for the unexpected and Bruce Allen and Eric Schaffer deserve credit for having the Redskins ready for a storm that nobody saw coming.Rich Tandler blogs about the Redskins at www.RealRedskins.com. You can reach him by email at RTandlerCSN@comcast.net and follow him on Twitter @Rich_Tandler.
It's never easy to say goodbye to a well-liked coworker, especially when that employee has been fired. In the NFL, that's no different. Redskins head coach Jay Gruden opened up about the departure of former GM Scot McCloughan while speaking with reporters at the NFL Owners Meetings in Phoenix.
"I was disappointed. I liked Scot. I liked working with Scot. He’s a good person, and a great talent evaluator," Gruden said.
The highly publicized demise of McCloughan as Redskins general manager made plenty of headlines, but as far the organization goes, Gruden believes the team is still in good shape.
"Any time you lose somebody that you become close with, whether it’s a coach or a GM or a player it's disappointing but at the end of the day in pro football, anybody that’s been around it long enough understands, change is going to happen and you have to react and adjust to it and move forward with a positive outlook," Gruden said.
Part of that positive outlook stems from moves the team has made this offseason.
Offensively the franchise brought in a big new weapon in receiver Terrelle Pryor. Paired with 2016 first-round pick Josh Doctson, assuming he's healthy, the Redskins could have two dynamic pass catchers to offset the loss of DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon. On the defensive line, Gruden thinks new players Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee can emerge as solid players with high upside. Further, Gruden made clear he thinks new defensive line coach Jim Tomsula will make the players on the 'Skins roster into better defensive linemen.
For many fans it's hard to remain optimistic after the controversy that surrounded McCloughan's ouster, but on the field, there's little reason to expect the 'Skins to slide.
In 2016, the team finished one game out of a playoff berth, losing a disappointing final game to the Giants to seal that fate. In 2017, Gruden expects to be right back in the playoff hunt.
"I think everybody in this organization has a positive outlook," Gruden said. "We are going to miss Scot, obviously, but we’re also positive that we can get things we need to get done to be successful."
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After he signed the franchise tag a couple of weeks ago, the speculation, rumors and, for some fans, panic around Kirk Cousins has largely quieted down.
The Redskins can ink their quarterback to a long-term deal any time between now and July 15, but talks may not pick up until summer rolls around. A trade can also occur, but no recent reports have indicated that one is in the works.
Therefore, it currently looks like Cousins and the franchise that drafted him back in 2012 will be together for at least one more season. And according to Sports Illustrated's Peter King, that's a wise choice by the Burgundy and Gold.
"I think they did the absolute right thing in making sure Kirk Cousins is gonna be their quarterback this year," King told CSN Redskins Insider JP Finlay at the NFL owner's meetings in Phoenix. "I absolutely, unequivocally would not trade him. That's a white flag."
As for why King wouldn't move on from No. 8, his explanation was very simple.
"You don't get rid of a guy who's got the second-most passing yards in football over the last two years," he said.
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Finlay also gathered input on the Redskins' and Cousins' relationship from the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, who's another major voice in the league's media. Rapoport first stated that he would be "beyond stunned" if the 28-year-old was not in D.C. for the 2017 campaign and then laid out how he envisions the year unfolding.
"I do not believe he will sign the extension before the season," he said. "So, he's going to go out there, play on another one-year deal, bet on himself like he did last year. You hope it's the same thing. And then we'll see, because I know there's some talk about him not signing an extension — I'm not so sure about that. Everyone has a price, right?"
"If they offer him $25 [million] a year, Andrew Luck's deal, I would imagine plans would change pretty quickly, right?" Rapoport continued. "So you get to the end of the season, assess where you are, assess the value and see if you can make a business deal. It's terrible to have to pay so much money to your quarterback. The only worse thing is not being able to pay so much money to your quarterback."
King and Rapoport are clearly both in agreement that losing their rising signal caller would be a huge blow to the Redskins. But while King says Washington should keep Cousins because of his production, Rapoport took a different route when concluding how the negotiations will end up.
"Really good quarterbacks never leave their team. It just never happens," he said. "So I would think there's a way to work this out."
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