As Jay Gruden and company finalize the coaching staff in another part of the building at Redskins Park are looking forward to free agency and how best to utilize the approximately $20 million in cap space the Redskins have. Here we’ll take a position-by-position look at the cap situation and explore some of the Redskins’ options. Previously we looked at the interior offensive line and offensive tackle, tight ends, running backs, quarterbacks, and wide receivers.
Up today, the defensive line
The Redskins currently have six defensive linemen under contract.
—Due to contract restructures in 2013, both Bowen and Cofield have contracts that carry a lot of dead money. Bowen’s carries $2.5 million, Cofield’s $3.6 million. Bowen carries the fourth-highest cap hit on the team; Cofield’s is fifth.
—Last year Bowen reduced his salary to $1.6 million, saving the Redskins about $3 million in cap space.
—Cofield’s contract runs through 2016.
[RELATED: Redskins 2015 position outlooks: Defensive line]
—Hatcher has three years left on the four-year deal he signed in 2014. His salaries shoot up to $6.5 million next year and $7.5 million in 2017.
—Baker is in the second year of a three-year deal. He is eligible for up to $1 million in bonuses but they are considered unlikely to be earned and so they don’t count against the salary cap.
—Kearse was one of the better bargains on the team; in a part-time role for a minimum salary, he had 3 sacks (tied for third on the team) and 12 tackles.
—End Jarvis Jenkins, who started 14 games in 2014, and nose tackle Chris Nield, who missed the season on inured reserve, are unrestricted free agents.
—The Redskins' spending on the defensive line is 11th in the NFL. That's high considering their base defense only uses three defensive linemen.
Adding and subtracting
As noted above, both Bowen and Cofield have very high cap numbers, especially considering that neither contributed much in 2014. Bowen misses the first six games of the season on the PUP list after undergoing knee microfracture surgery in 2013. He also was healthy but inactive for two games.
It’s difficult to see the Redskins paying Bowen, who will be 31 before OTAs start, the $5.5 million in salary and workout bonuses his contract calls for. It seems likely that he will either agree to take a pay cut as he did last year or face getting released.
Cofield could face the same situation. Tarik El-Bashir and I will look at his future in depth later this afternoon on CSNwashington.com.
It will be interesting to see if Hatcher, who was a disappointment with only 5.5 sacks after getting a four-year deal with $10.5 million guaranteed, is still on the team. The finances say that with a $3 million salary and a $1.5 million net cap charge to let him go it makes sense to keep him. But will Scot McCloughan feel obligated to keep around a mistake made by his predecessor? Odds are Hatcher stays but it’s not a sure thing. If he ends up getting cut that will be a sign that this is going to be a major, major housecleaning in Ashburn.
Cap information from OverTheCap.com and other sources.