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Redskins Buy Now, Pay Now?

Redskins Buy Now, Pay Now?

The Redskins made their first signing of the free agent period when they inked Baltimore Ravens' center Casey Rabach to a five-year contract.

The signing continued a couple of trends for the Redskins in free agency. First of all, they struck quickly, agreeing to terms with Rabach about two and a half hours in to the signing period. From ESPN.com: The team also got an early start on other team's free agents, reaching agreement with center Casey Rabach.

Rabach, an unrestricted free agent widely regarded as the top center in the veteran pool, agreed to a multi-year contract early Wednesday morning, only a few hours after the start of the 2005 signing period. It marked the third year in a row that Redskins owner Dan Snyder signed at least one player on the opening day of free agency.The other continued trend is that Rabach is 27 and entering the what should be the prime of his career. Most of the Redskins' recent free agent signings have been of players within a year or two of this age.

The trend that didn't continue, however, is the Redskins' strategy of putting their free agent spendin sprees on the equivalent of a high-interest credit card, spending for items now that they will have to pay dearly for later. While the reports of the Redskins facing the dreaded "cap hell" in 2006 and beyond are not entirely correct, they have nevertheless had a tendency to minimize the first-year cap hit in recent free agent contracts. They have done this by giving a large signing bonus, the cap impact of which is spread out over the life of the deal, and a minimal salary in the first year of the deal. This has allowed the team to add more free agent veterans than their cap room in a given year would seem to allow.

The Rabach signing, however, is different. It seems that the Redskins, at least in this particular deal, have decided to put a little more up front, make a larger down payment if you will, in order to minimize the cap hit of the contract in later years. From the same ESPN.com article:
Rabach's contract has a void for the fifth season and also includes a $2.5 million signing bonus and a $2 million roster, which will be guaranteed, according to ClaytonForget about the voidable fifth year, which is not unusual. What is different is the $2.5 million signing bonus and the $2 million guarantted roster bonus. That's essentially a $4.5 million signing bonus, which is what other media outlets reported. But there's a distinction here with a big difference.

A straight signing bonus of $4.5 million would be prorated over the life on the contract, meaning that it would cost the Redskins $900,000 against the cap for each of the next five seasons. By splitting the bonus into signing and roster they way they did, though, the Redskins will have to eat the $2 million roster bonus this year. But that will leave just $2.5 million, or $500,000 a year, to be prorated.

The exact details of the contract have yet to come out so these numbers are just reasonable estimates based on the assumption--a pretty safe one, I'm told--that the guaranteed roster bonus is in the first year of the deal. The cap experts I communicate with have said that it wouldn't make sense to do the deal any other way, and it explains the report of the $4.5 million signing bonus.

In short, the Redskins did the opposite of what they've been doing; they paid more against the cap now to save more later.

To be sure, this is just one contract and it does not mean that there's a new trend here. But it seems that the Redskins have utilized one more way to manipulate the cap to fit their particular needs.

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Redskins 2017 training camp preview—offense

Redskins 2017 training camp preview—offense

RICHMOND—The Redskins will assemble here tomorrow to get ready to get ready for the 2017 season. There are plenty of position competitions and other storylines. Here is a look at what we at CSN will be paying attention to, starting with the offense.

Kiss Cousins goodbye?

As everyone reading this knows, the Redskins quarterback did not agree to a long-term contract by the deadline last week and he will play out the season on the franchise tag. The situation will have a major impact next spring as free agency approaches but that’s to be sorted out in 2018. The question here is whether Cousins’ contract status will affect what takes place here in Richmond and as the season unfolds starting in September.

Some believe that it will be a major storyline and that it will be a distraction with media asking lots of questions and the possibility that Cousins’ thoughts will drift towards next year and his potential free agency.

RELATED: Redskins 53-man roster projection, defense

However, Cousins was in a similar position last year, when he played on the franchise tag for the first time. There was a flurry of questions at the start of training camp, Cousins answered them, and then they moved on. The rule that prohibits contract negotiations with a tagged player during the season had its intended effect. There was no buzz about the situation until the season was over.

This year the situation is ratcheted up a bit because of the high cost of the tags available to the Redskins next year. But Cousins is very good at deflecting questions about his contract status and he should be able to handle the scrutiny.

Changes at wide receiver

No team had ever lost two 1,000-yard receivers in the same offseason until the Redskins saw both Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson depart as free agents in March. It means that Josh Doctson steps into a featured role and Terrelle Pryor will be expected to produce as well as he did in Cleveland last year, if not better.

The changes also mean that Jamison Crowder is likely to see more targets and holdovers Maurice Harris and Ryan Grant could see increased roles. It all will be sorted out in training camp starting on Thursday.

Further down the depth chart, can sixth-round rookie Robert Davis get up to speed soon enough to justify a roster spot? And can veteran Brian Quick rebound from some shaky offseason practices to claim a slot on the 53?

Two-back attack?

Last year Rob Kelley worked his way up from being an overlooked, undrafted free agent rookie to being the starting running back. This year, Samaje Perine comes in as a fourth-round pick with an eye on taking the job away from Kelley.

MORE REDSKINS: Ranking the Redskins roster, 11-20

It is likely that Kelley, who is a favorite of Jay Gruden’s, will be the Week 1 starter. Still, it would not be surprising if Perine led the team in carries and rushing yards in several games as the season unfolds, perhaps more.

Meanwhile, Mack Brown and Keith Marshall (if he can stay healthy) will compete for the fourth running back job—if the team decides to keep that many. They only kept three coming out of camp last year.

O-line stability

The same five starters will line up for the second year in a row. There’s really nothing to see here unless Arie Kouandjio can make a big push and move into Shawn Lauvao’s spot at left guard.

There is some intrigue about the backup center spot. If rookie Chase Roullier can’t get up to speed they may have to look at the waiver wire.

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.

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Redskins Playbook: 5 forgotten names to remember for training camp

Redskins Playbook: 5 forgotten names to remember for training camp

When the Redskins open training camp in Richmond on Thursday, fans will line up to get autographs from Kirk Cousins, Josh Norman and Jordan Reed. Plenty of other players will excite the fans too as optimism rules the first few days of practice in July and August. 

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

There are other players that fans probably won't scream their names, but who could play a role or fight for a roster spot this fall. Winning in the NFL is almost nearly as dependent on the final 10 players on the roster as it is the first five. Depth is key, and here are a few players that fans might have forgotten about. 

  • RB Keith Marshall - The speedster out of Georgia has a wildly impressive resume - on paper - but just can't stay healthy. In college he started ahead of Todd Gurley for a time, now considered one of the best RBs in the NFL for the Rams. Marshall landed on the injured reserve last year as a rookie but looked healthy and capable at Redskins Park this offseason during OTAs and minicamp. The running back position looks quite full, but if Marshall can show his elite speed and make it through four preseason games, he just might push Mack Brown for a roster spot. 
  • LB Martrell Spaight - A tackling machine in college at Arkansas, Spaight missed most of his rookie season in 2015 before appearing in 14 games last season. Bad luck struck again, and he finished the year on the IR. With the addition of Zach Brown to the interior linebackers, Spaight might have a tough battle for a roster spot. Will Compton, Mason Foster and Brown all seem certain to make the team. Spaight could also start the year on the PUP list, which might be the surest way to stay on the Redskins.
  • LB Chris Carter - Signed as a free agent this year, the journeyman Carter has played for six teams in six years and looks poised to play the special teams role that Terence Garvin took on last year. If Carter makes the roster, that means trouble for Spaight. 
  • DL Anthony Lanier - An undrafted rookie in 2016 that didn't see much game action, Lanier has really impressed coaches with his work ethic this offseason. He has great size at 6-foot-6 and added about 20 pounds of muscle since the season ended, which should allow him the strength to handle the trenches. Lanier could be a sneaky important player this fall for Washington. 
  • S Will Blackmon - D.J. Swearinger and Su'a Cravens look to be the starting safeties for the Redskins in 2017. Swearinger has a proven track record in the NFL secondary, Cravens does not, but showed the ability to do so in college at USC. After those two, and with DeAngelo Hall on the PUP list, the Redskins lack much depth or experience in the defensive backfield. That's where Blackmon should help. A versatile veteran, Blackmon has the speed to keep up with most wideouts and is one of the more cerebral players on the defense. 

Bonus: RB Matt Jones - He might want off the Redskins roster, but that hasn't happened yet. If the team sustains any injuries at the running back position, Jones' fortunes could change quickly. 

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