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Redskins go into 2017 with ample salary cap space

Redskins go into 2017 with ample salary cap space

The Redskins have several key free agents to deal with and a lot of holes to fill on both sides of the ball, particularly on defense. The good news is that they will have a substantial amount of salary cap space available to manage the situation.

How much will they have? Let’s walk through the numbers.

The Redskins currently have $113 million in 2017 cap expenditures for players under contract (cap data via www.OvertheCap.com). Add in $6.9 million in dead cap money for unaccounted for bonuses paid to Stephen Paea ($2.5 million), Chris Culliver ($2.5 million), and David Bruton ($1.7 million) and the Redskins are spending just about $120 million in 2017.

That’s the expense side of the ledger. On the available money side, the NFL salary cap for 2017 currently is estimated to be $168 million. That number could be lower, although that is unlikely. In fact, history tells us that the cap number usually ends up higher than the early estimates. But we’ll use the $168 million number for now.

RELATED: How will the Garçon-Jackson saga play out?

Before we arrive at their cap space, there is one more calculation to make. The Redskins had $15 million in cap space that they did not use in 2016. Since the 2011 CBA, teams have been allowed to roll unspent cap dollars into the next year. Add that to the $168 million cap and you get a team cap of just under $182 million (numbers may not add exactly due to rounding). Take that and subtract the $120 million in expenditures from above and you have the Redskins with $62 million in cap space.

Only six teams have more cap space than that. The Redskins, like most other teams, can create more cap space by releasing some veteran players whose contract values outstrip their values on the field. Some possibilities for the Redskins:

OL Kory Lichtensteiger has spent large chunks of the last two seasons on injured reserve. After he was activated off of IR this year he didn’t play a snap. It appears that Spencer Long is now entrenched at the center position. Lichtensteiger’s cap number is $4.05 million and there would be cap savings of $3.5 million if they release him.

DB DeAngelo Hall has been injured the last three years. His salary in the last year of his four-year contract is $4.25 million and Hall is savvy enough to know that the team isn’t going to pay that to a 33-year-old player with his injury history. Hall is willing to rework his deal to be able to stay but the team could decide to move on and save the $4.25 million in cap space.

TE Derek Carrier played in eight games and caught just two passes. It’s possible that he wasn’t fully healthy after suffering multiple ligament tears in his knee, including his ACL. His cap number is just over $1 million and the team could save all of that by letting him go.

TE Niles Paul also had just two receptions in eight games before he suffered a torn labrum that landed him on IR for the second straight year. He missed all of the 2015 season with a broken ankle. Paul is a special teams captain and one of the coaches’ favorites, but the organization will have to take a long, hard look at the $2 million in cap space they could save by moving on.

MORE REDSKINS: Fixing the offense in the red zone critical for 2017 Redskins

The Redskins could make all the above moves and save nearly $11 million, bringing their available cap space to $73 million. They could release some of those players and make other moves that will save smaller amounts of money that could add up. This is all variable and unknown at the moment. We’ll stick with a cap number of $62 million and then see what happens from there.

Out of that, the Redskins will need to find a way to pay Kirk Cousins (or another quarterback), DeSean Jackson and/or Pierre Garçon (or another wide receiver) and get help on defense, particularly on the line and at safety. If they move on from the players who could be cap casualties, they will have to be replaced.

We’ll look at the what the Redskins need to do and what they could do with their money over the next week or so. One thing is clear—with their big pile of cap space they will have plenty of options.

Related: Uncertainty surrounding Kirk Cousins impacts Redskins pursuit of free agent receivers

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Need to Know: The top five receivers the Redskins will face in 2017

Need to Know: The top five receivers the Redskins will face in 2017

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, June 28, 29 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 178 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 74 days.

Days until:

—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/17) 19
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 43
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 66

The five best wide receivers the Redskins will face in 2017

We’ve looked at the best quarterbacks and the best running backs on the Redskins’ schedule. Now here are the five best wide receivers they will face as determined by 2016 receiving yards.

Odell Beckham, Giants, 1,367 yards in 2016—Josh Norman didn’t exactly shut him down in their two meetings as Beckham has 12 receptions for 165 yards. But Beckham didn’t score any touchdowns or have any other game-changing plays against the Redskins. Their first matchup this year comes under the lights at FedEx Field on Thanksgiving. Save room for popcorn after your Thanksgiving feast.  

Amari Cooper, Raiders, 1,153 yards—There was plenty of chatter that the Redskins wanted to draft Cooper when they have the fifth selection in 2015. But the Raiders snapped him up right before the Redskins picked. Cooper has been a steady and consistent target for Derek Carr. In fact, Carr should get Cooper a really, really nice Christmas present with some of the $125 million contract he just signed, a deal that Cooper helped him get.

Michael Thomas, Saints, 1,136 yards—Others sucked up all the rookie of the year conversation in 2016 but Thomas, a second-round pick out of Ohio State was very worthy of some accolades. To be sure, the Saints’ offense, led by perennial 5,000-yard passer Drew Brees, is very friendly to racking up a lot of receiving yards. With Brandin Cooks traded to the Patriots, look for Thomas to get even more opportunities in 2017.

Doug Baldwin, Seahawks, 1,128 yards—He is coming off career highs in receptions (94) and receiving yards (1,128). Baldwin has only played against the Redskins twice in the regular season and once in the playoffs and he hasn’t done much damage.

Demaryius Thomas, Broncos, 1,083 yards—You have to think that Thomas misses Peyton Manning already. In 2016, he had his worst production in five years. Still, he made his fifth straight Pro Bowl.

Pierre Garçon, 49ers, 1,041 yards—Adding a sixth here because, hey, we know this guy. He was the Redskins’ leading receiver three of the five seasons he was in Washington. I don’t think there is any reason he should want revenge. He was treated well and played well while in Washington. But certainly, he has a ton of professional pride and he will want to do well against his former team.

Best of the rest: Larry Fitzgerald led the NFL in receptions last year with 107 although he averaged only 9.6 yards per catch. Demaryius Thomas’ teammate Emmanuel Sanders also had over 1,000 yards receiving. So did Michael Crabtree, Cooper’s teammate in Oakland. I’m not a big fan of Alshon Jeffery but he instantly becomes the Eagles’ best receiver. Brandon Marshall also came into the division with the Giants. And don’t forget about Dez Bryant even though he appears to have taken a step back; he still is very dangerous.

In all, the Redskins will face nine receivers who gained over 1,000 yards last year.

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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Report: 'There isn't a real price that will make Kirk Cousins happy' with Redskins

Report: 'There isn't a real price that will make Kirk Cousins happy' with Redskins

Following a slew of reports that cast doubt on the Redskins reaching a long-term deal with Kirk Cousins, ESPN's Dianna Russini tweeted Tuesday that the impass is not about money. 

If the report is true, then Washington has run out of good options for retaining Cousins in the long term.

It's possible the team could use a third-straight franchise tag to keep him next season, but the price tag around $34 million would be astronomical for one season.

The transition tag would be worth in the neighborhood of $28 million. 

Russini doesn't elaborate on the reasons behind her report that Cousins wouldn't be happy in Washington regardless of price. But it's important to note that both teams and players have incentive to create leverage in contract negotiations through the media. 

The Redskins have until July 17 to reach a long-term deal with Cousins. 

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