The Redskins had a bill become due and the team now has less cap space to work with.
The $4.5 million reduction in the team’s available salary cap caught some fans by surprise and some though that it was another salary cap penalty arbitrarily imposed by the league. But it was nothing of the sort; the Redskins knew it was coming and planned for it.
It goes back to the 2011 season. Throughout the offseason there was a lockout as the NFL players and owners fought over how much of a multi-billion dollar NFL pie each side would get. That determines the salary cap and teams had little time to plan after the lockout was settled on July 25. After the numbers were crunched it was determined that the cap would be $120 million. That was $3 million less than it was in 2009, the previous year with a cap (2010 was uncapped).
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This created a bit of panic among teams who had made contract commitments figuring that the cap would grow. So the NFL set up a system to let teams “borrow” up to $3 million in cap space in 2011 and $1.5 million in 2012. The stipulation was that the cap space would have to be repaid by 2017.
The Redskins took full advantage of the program, borrowing the available $4.5 million in cap space. They could have paid it back sooner but cap space rolls over from year to year so it really was a matter of accounting.
It should be noted that the team took heat from fans and some in the media for rolling over $15 million in cap space from 2016 to this year. Now we know that part of that rollover was included in anticipation of the need to repay this 2011-2012 debt.
The loan payment leaves the Redskins with about $11.3 million in cap space. Their prime opportunity to create more is to renegotiate DeAngelo Hall’s contract. The veteran safety, who has missed large chunks of the past three seasons with injuries, is schedule to draw a salary of $4.25 million this year. After the end of last season, Hall said that he would be amenable to taking a pay cut and trading some salary for incentives. Such a move could save the team as much as $2-$3 million in cap space.
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That $2-$3 million is about what they will need in net cap space to sign their draft picks. They also need about $5 million to give them funds to handle paying the practice squad and to pay players on injured reserve.
So if they rework Hall’s contract they will have around $6 million to work with. That may give them enough to sign free agent linebacker Zach Brown or give a contract extension to right tackle Morgan Moses.