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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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Kirk Cousins had his eye on Kyle Shanahan's offense, but is there more to it?

Kirk Cousins had his eye on Kyle Shanahan's offense, but is there more to it?

Of course, Kirk Cousins is disappointed the Redskins didn’t make the playoffs, but among the various things he’s done in the offseason, one of them is a little curious.

Sunday, Cousins wasn’t just watching the Falcons dominate the Packers, 44-21, in the NFC Championship Game. He sent out a picture on Instagram from the stands of the Georgia Dome.

“Watching two of the best in the world do what they do & taking notes to make it to this game next year -score a lot of points!” Cousins wrote.

But — especially with rumors that Atlanta offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan will be offered the head coaching position with the 49ers — is there more to this post than the Redskins’ quarterback simply watching the game?

Shanahan was the Redskins’ offensive coordinator from 2010-2013 and was reportedly “integral” in the team selecting Cousins in the 2012 NFL Draft.

So if Shanahan makes the move out to San Francisco and if the Redskins don’t put a franchise tag on Cousins, could the pair be reunited?

It’s possible, according to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport, who said, “don’t be surprised if the 49ers make a run at Kirk Cousins if the Redskins do not make him their exclusive franchise player.”

There’s a lot of if’s involved for that to happen, but it’s possible. It’s also possible Cousins was just enjoying the NFC Championship Game and decided to Instagram about it. 

MORE REDSKINS: Why Matt Cavanaugh makes sense for Washington

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3 reasons why Redskins promoting Matt Cavanaugh to offensive coordinator makes sense

3 reasons why Redskins promoting Matt Cavanaugh to offensive coordinator makes sense

Championship Sunday produced a flurry of Redskins news. A pair of internal promotions erased the team's vacant coordinator positions, as Greg Manusky landed the defensive coordinator spot and Matt Cavanaugh will take over as offensive coordinator. When Sean McVay left to coach the Rams, many expected Cavanaugh to take over his spot. Here are three reasons why:

  1. If it ain't broke, don't fix it - There was plenty to criticize from the Redskins the last two seasons, but not much of it came on offense. Cavanaugh joined the organization in 2015 as quarterback coach, and the offense has consistently improved in those two seasons. Though the team struggled to score TDs in the Red Zone, the 2016 version of the Redskins moved the ball at a team-record clip and ranked among the top offensive teams in NFL yardage. When something is working as well as the 'Skins offense, it's not wise to change it dramatically.
  2. Impressive work - Cavanaugh began coaching QBs for the Redskins in 2015. Kirk Cousins took over as Redskins starting quarterback in 2015. In two years working together, Cousins twice broke the Redskins franchise passing record and is now poised to get a mega-contract in free agency. Talking after the 'Skins loss to the Giants earlier this month, Jay Gruden said, "I think [Cousins'] really improved his game a lot in the last couple years. And a lot of it has to do with Matt Cavanaugh and Sean McVay."
  3. Make the call - The biggest question remaining for the Redskins - outside of the HUGE unknown surrounding Cousins - will be about play calling. All indications are that Jay Gruden will return to calling the plays from the Washington sideline, and obviously, that's a situation Cavanaugh understands. For two seasons now, Cavanaugh along with McVay, Gruden and offensive line coach Bill Callahan have had input on play calling. With McVay gone, Cavanaugh and Callahan will likely contribute even more in support of Gruden. 

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

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