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Redskins 2015 salary cap outlook: Defensive line

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Redskins 2015 salary cap outlook: Defensive line

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.

 

Notes:

—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.

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Jay Gruden wants DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garçon back, but 'won't blink' if they're gone

Jay Gruden wants DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garçon back, but 'won't blink' if they're gone

The Redskins face the very real prospect of losing receivers DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon via free agency. Head coach Jay Gruden wants both players back, but is prepared to roll with the guys on the team if Jackson and Garçon depart. 

"Obviously DeSean and Pierre had great years. 1,000 yards each. Those are going to be hard to replace," Gruden said to reporters in Indianapolis. 

It's still possible the Redskins keep both Jackson and Garçon, or keep one of the two, just as both players could leave the organization. In his comments, it seemed like Gruden does not expect one or both guys to be back, and that the team will move on without them. That could mean losing Jackson's 1,005 receiving yards or Garçon's 1,041. 

"Coach the guys that we have. Free agency you’re never going to be able to sign everybody you want as a coach," he said. "I’d like to have Alshon Jeffery, Pierre and DeSean. Heck, give them all to me. I know that's not going to happen."

Gruden tends to joke often speaking with the media, and clearly the prospect of signing Jeffery, a star wideout for the Bears that will hit free agency next week, along with Jackson and Garçon isn't going to happen. The receiver market in free agency will be interesting to watch, as a number of top options will be available. Jeffery, Jackson, Garçon along with Cleveland's Terrelle Pryor and younger prospects like Kenny Stills and Kenny Britt. 

Asked if it was "necessary" to bring at least one of Garçon or Jackson back, Gruden bristled. 

"Would never say necessary. I’d love to have them both back, I'd love to have one back. If we are unfortunate enough to lose them both, I'm not gonna blink."

The coach explained the team has a good crop of young pass catchers already on the roster. 

"I do feel very good about Jamison Crowder, Ryan Grant, Josh Doctson. I love the fact that Mo Harris got a lot of work in, he’s gonna develop."

The coach should feel good about the young receivers, their development is part of his job. Crowder looks like a future star in the slot. Still, Jackson and Garçon accounted for more than 40 percent of Kirk Cousins' passing yards in 2016. That's a lot of yardage to lose. 

Of course, Doctson's development will be a major theme this offseason. A first-round pick in 2016, the Redskins got next to nothing from him as a rookie as he dealt with an Achilles injury. A healthy 6-foot-2 Doctson could offset some of the lost productivity that would come with the departure of Jackson or Garçon.

And then there is always free agency. It's entirely possible Washington could sign another, perhaps cheaper, wideout on the marketplace should they lose two the same way. Gruden said the team has 'other free agents' the team could pursue.

"We have Plan B's and Plan C's ready to go," Gruden said. 

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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The Redskins aren't willing to trade Kirk Cousins unless they are

The Redskins aren't willing to trade Kirk Cousins unless they are

Shortly after Kirk Cousins got the exclusive franchise tag from the Redskins on Saturday, two sort of conflicting reports. One, from Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, was that Cousins “is not going anywhere” and a trade is essentially off the table. Mike Florio of Pro Football talk, quoting “a source familiar with the dynamics of the situation” reported that the Redskins would have to be “blown away” by a trade offer in order to pull the trigger on a deal.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 4.0

On the face of it, the reports conflict. One says that Cousins is available, the other says that he isn’t. But that valuation of them assumes the sources for these reports were intent on putting out the truth. The fact is that Cousins is very much available for the right offer.

A conversation along the lines of this one could well take place in Indianapolis this week:

“How much do you want for your house?”

“It’s not for sale.”

“No, really, how much do you want.”

“Really, it’s not for sale.”

“I’ll give you $50,000 over whatever it gets appraised for.”

“Sold!”

In short, you don’t need to have a “for sale” sign up in front of something to sell it. In fact, sometimes it’s better to act as though you have no intention of selling whatever it is. That can intrigue potential buyers even more.

The analogy falters a bit as it seems that the Redskins are unlikely to get a premium over whatever Cousins’ valuation on the open market might be. The receiving team will have to give the QB a massive contract. In addition, a team that wants Cousins is likely to be able to get him with no compensation in a year, when Cousins is likely to be an unfettered free agent. But you get the idea.

More Redskins: What happens next with Cousins?

The message from the Redskins is, don’t come at us with a couple of mid rounders. There is some point where the compensation for giving up Cousins a year earlier than they might have to isn’t enough. It literally would be better to rent Cousins for one more season than get, say, a third-round pick with a 2018 fifth thrown in.

That being said, they are not going to get the RG3 type haul—three firsts and a second—in exchange for Cousins. The likely would accept something south of that in exchange for Cousins’ rights.

So, he’s not available at any price—unless the price is right.

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