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Redskins salary cap analysis: How much for Orakpo, Riley?

Redskins salary cap analysis: How much for Orakpo, Riley?

As Jay Gruden continues the process of assembling the playbook, people in another part of the building at Redskins Park are looking forward to free agency and how best to utilize the approximately $28 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. So far, we’ve looked at wide receivers, offensive backs, the offensive line, and the defensive line. Next up, linebackers.

The Redskins currently have seven linebackers under contract.

  Name Base Cap number
OLB Ryan Kerrigan $1,564,131 $2,774,639
ILB Keenan Robinson $570,000 $675,027
ILB Josh Hull $645,000 $645,000
LB Adrian Robinson $570,000 $570,000
ILB Will Compton $495,000 $495,000
OLB Brandon Jenkins $495,000 $537,215
LB Jeremy Kimbrough $495,000 $495,000
      $6,191,881

Some notes:

—The Redskins will carry dead cap charges for the voiding contracts of London Fletcher ($2.1 million) and Brian Orakpo ($715,000).

—Those two are free agents, although Fletcher intends to retire. The contracts of Perry Riley, Darryl Tapp, Nick Barnett, Rob Jackson, and Bryan Kehl (injured reserve) are set to expire and they also are slated to be free agents when the league year starts on March 11.

—As one might expect with only one bona fide NFL starter signed, the Redskins rank low in the NFL in terms of spending on linebackers. Only two teams have fewer cap dollars committed to linebackers.

Adding and subtracting

Orakpo and Riley have been identified as two of the team’s top priorities to re-sign and according to reports contract talks with both have begun. In addition, they have to find a second starting inside linebacker to take Fletcher’s spot.

How much Orakpo and Riley are likely to make will be the topics of some upcoming posts so we won’t go into a bunch of detail here. But let’s take a quick look.

Orakpo’s floor is Paul Kruger’s deal from a year ago, a five year, $40 million contract. His ceiling is the contract extension Clay Matthews signed last year, a five-year deal that averages $13 million.

His production (39.5 career sacks) puts him closer to Matthews (42.5 sacks at the time he signed his extension) than Kruger (15.5). So let’s say something like $11 million per year.

That just happens to be right around the estimated $10.9 million franchise tag salary will be for linebackers. That is an option the Redskins could explore if they are concerned about losing him due to an above-market offer by a team with a lot of salary cap space.

According to the Washington Post, Riley’s camp may be looking for a contract comparable to the one that Dannell Ellerbe signed a year ago. He got a five-year deal averaging almost $7 million per year. The Redskins will point to the contract that Fletcher just completed, a deal that averaged less than $5.5 million per year.

It seems that the Ellerbe deal is an outlier, especially considering that he had started just 14 games when he signed the contract. Two of the four Pro Bowl inside linebackers are on second contracts. Paul Posluszny has a six-year contract worth $7 million per year and Derrick Johnson has a six-year contract paying him a shade over $6 million per year. Riley has not yet been in the Pro Bowl conversation. He could end up with something closer to what Fletcher made with some bonus clauses and escalators if he does make the Pro Bowl.

The Redskins might not have much left to spend on the spot next to Riley. Kerrigan is only on his rookie contract for one more year and then there is a team option for the 2015 season that will call for a salary of some $4-$5 million. The Redskins may try to work Keenan Robinson or a 2014 draft pick into the role with a veteran stopgap coming in at a relatively low salary this season. 

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Need to Know: Redskins’ Friday draft picks could be just as vital to success as first-rounder

Need to Know: Redskins’ Friday draft picks could be just as vital to success as first-rounder

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, April 23, four days before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 10
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 31
—Training camp starts (7/27) 95
—Redskins opener vs. Eagles (9/10) 140

In search of someone, anyone, to stop the run

One of the areas the Redskins needed to improve last year was their rushing defense on first down. In 2015, they gave up 5.0 yards per carry on first down. That was the worst performance in the league. It’s pretty tough to play defense when a handoff makes it second and five. The Saints, who had a historically bad defense that year, were second, fiving up 4.8 yards a pop.

Well, it was no better for the Redskins defense in 2016. Again, they gave up 5.0 yards per carry on first down, again the worst performance in the league.  Remember, this is on first down, when teams are most likely to run.

The Redskins’ problems on third down were well known. They were dead last in the league allowing first downs on 46.6 percent of third-down attempts. For context, an average performance on third down is allowing about 38 percent and the best teams are around 35 percent.

That doesn’t tell the whole story, however. The Redskins weren’t very good at getting teams to third down. They allowed first downs on 33.8 percent of their opponents’ second-down plays. That put them in the bottom third of the league. Again, you don’t have to look too hard to connect the dots to link that back to the five yards per rushing play on first down. Second and five is a piece of cake most of the time.

You don’t need an advanced degree in statistical analysis to figure out that the Redskins defense isn’t going to get much better if they can’t stop teams from running the ball on first down.

It’s easy to point to the defensive line, which has not been very good, and say that the problem is there. That certainly has something to do with it. But the Redskins didn’t have a very good D-line in 2014 and they allowed 4.1 yards per first-down rushing attempt, a performance that was right at the league average.

The factor that was common in 2015 and 2016 and was different in 2014 was the defensive coordinator. It’s possible that opposing teams found a flaw to exploit in Joe Barry’s scheme that wasn’t there in Jim Haslett’s (which surely had flaws in other places).

But X’s and O’s can only get you so far. The Redskins will be looking to take a defensive lineman early and perhaps use an additional pick or two at the position later in the draft. While getting one who can rush the passer would be a plus, they need a run stuffer who can take snaps on first down and bottle up the ground game.

The focus in the draft will be on the first-round pick but, as has been discussed here many times, that pick is unlikely to be a defensive lineman. There isn’t likely to be one at 17 who would represent good value. That could mean that the Redskins’ second- or third-round pick, perhaps an interior lineman like Caleb Brantley of Florida, Larry Ogunjobi of Charlotte, or Montravius Adams of Auburn, is just as important to the team’s success as the first-round pick.

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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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Mock drafts, cap bargains

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Mock drafts, cap bargains

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, April 22, five days before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 20
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 32
—Training camp starts (7/27) 96
—Redskins opener vs. Eagles (9/10) 141

The Redskins week that was

Redskins full 2017 schedule released—Even with the Caps and Wizards in full playoff mode, the DMV stops to take a look and see when the Redskins will be playing. The Thanksgiving game was surprising. It’s another working day but I worked at various places since I was 14 and last year was the first time I’ve had to work on Thanksgiving so I can’t complain too much about working two in a row. It’s a small price to pay for having the best job in the world.

Don't count out any RB for Redskins at 17—Yeah, I know that NFL teams aren’t supposed to take running backs in the first round any more. But that is one of those trends that comes and goes. In 2013 and 2014 there were no RBs taken in the first. Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliott in the last couple of years began to shift the thinking. If the Redskins think that Dalvin Cook or Christian McCaffrey can help them win games more than any other player on the board they should pull the trigger.

Rise of Patrick Mahomes could bring big payoff for Redskins—It seems likely that quarterbacks Deshaun Watson and Mitchell Trubisky will be taken before the Redskins pick at No. 17 goes on the clock. That means that two players in whom the Redskins might be interested will be available, pushed back by the quarter backs. Could Mahomes, out of Texas Tech, push a third player back to Washington. The buzz is that a team might grab him in the first half of the first round.

The Redskins' five best salary cap bargains for 2017—When I started pulling the numbers for this post I thought I’d find more key players with salaries of under $1 million. I only found three and one of them is the kicker. This means that they don’t have very many late-round or undrafted players who are contributing a lot of value. They need more out of players like Anthony Lanier, Matt Ioannidis and Maurice Harris. That is how a team thrives in the salary cap era. A couple of Saturday picks could make or break this draft.

Redskins mock 2.0 goes offense early, defense often—There are a lot of ways the first 16 picks of this draft can work out. It seems almost certain that everyone’s favorite first-round pick, a stud defensive lineman, won’t be a realistic option on the board. This could send things in an odd direction for the Redskins. It’s fun to do a mock and I’ll do one or two more prior to draft day but there are too many variables to think that it has a high degree of accuracy. 

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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