Bruce Allen did not talk to the members of the local media who made the trek to Mobile for the Senior Bowl. But he did talk to SiriusXM NFL Radio while he was there and among the topics discussed was free agency.
For the first time since 2011 the Redskins will have the same salary cap limit as the other 31 NFL teams. The salary cap penalty is gone and it sounds like Allen is ready to get to work spending some of the team’s available cap space. By most estimates they are about $29 million under the cap.
“We’ll have some room,” Allen said, (as transcribed by the Washington Post). “We’re gonna have some room to do some things. But we have some players who are free agents, and we’re going to talk to them first, to try to retain them. But we have the ability to maneuver around, and we’ll be active in free agency.”
The word “active” is what has drawn everybody’s attention. But even a cursory glance at the Redskins’ situation tells you that they have no choice but to be active. Sheer numbers tell the story.
Of the 53 players on the roster at the end of the 2013 season, there are about 21 who are under contract and have demonstrated the ability to either be a starter, key reserve, or key special teams performer. About seven more who fit that description ended the season on injured reserve.
There are other players on the roster and on IR who are worth keeping as developmental projects so you can add a few more to the existing core. They have six draft picks and you figure that about four of them will make the roster and that they can pick up an undrafted player or two.
Add those together and subtract out several players who may be released as cap casualties about you probably have about 12 to 15 veteran free agents the Redskins will need to sign. That’s “active” by any definition of the word.
There are some Redskins fans who, for unknown reasons, want the team to repeat what they did in the 1990’s and 2000’s and spend heavily in free agency, bringing in a few big-name, expensive players in the process. That approach has landed the Redskins four playoff spots with zero advances even as far as the conference championship game since 1993. But, to them, “active” means reeling in big names.
The one “big name” the Redskins might sign is their own Brian Orakpo. With a over a dozen holes to fill, there might not be any room for players like WR Eric Decker or S Jairus Byrd. The Redskins’ situation is likely to push them in the direction of signing lesser-know players.