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Redskins salary cap outlook: Wide receivers

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Redskins salary cap outlook: Wide receivers

As Jay Gruden and company finalize the coaching staff people in another part of the building at Redskins Park are looking forward to free agency and how best to utilize the approximately $20 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. Previously we looked at the interior offensive line and offensive tackle. Up today, wide receiver

The Redskins currently have five wide receivers under contract.

Notes:

—Garçon (age 29 before the season starts) and Jackson (age 28) have the second and third highest cap numbers on the team, respectively. They both are under contract for two more seasons with 2016 cap numbers of $10.2 million for Garçon and $9.25 million for Jackson.

—Jackson’s roster bonus of $3.75 million is guaranteed unless he has been suspended. He has the same guarantee for a roster bonus of the same amount in 2016.

—Roberts’ cap number is the 15th-highest on the team. His contract has three years to run with cap number of $5 million in both 2015 and 2016.

—Santana Moss, who has been with the team since 2005 and will be 36 in June, and 2011 third-round pick Leonard Hankerson, are unrestricted free agents.

—Grant has three years to go on his rookie contract with minimum salaries each year.

Adding and subtracting

At almost $24 million, the Redskins spend heavily at this position compared to the rest of the NFL. Only the Falcons, Dolphins, Lions and Cardinals have more cap dollars devoted to wide receivers than the Redskins. This has led some to speculate if they should try to trade or release one of their three higher-priced receivers.

Setting aside the on-field factors for the moment and looking strictly at the cap implications, Garçon would be the logical candidate to cut or trade. Although there would be a $4.4 million dead cap charge if he was cut or traded the net cap savings would be $5.3 million. The team could opt to designate him as a post-June 1 cut which would result in $7.5 million in savings for 2015 but a $2.2 million dead cap hit in 2016.

This decision would come down to new general manager Scot McCloughan looking at tape of Garçon’s season, which produced 68 catches for 752 yards and three touchdowns. Was the falloff in production from 2013 (113/1,346/5) due to Garçon’s play or more due to issues at the quarterback position? McCloughan will have to decide if Garçon is worth the $7.1 million salary that he is due.

McCloughan could also conclude that Roberts ($2.75 million salary) is not worth the expense but releasing him would result in just $750,000 in cap savings after a $3 million dead cap charge.

Jackson was their most productive receiver and that’s good because it would be costly to let him go. The guaranteed roster bonuses would mean a net cap charge of $2 million for releasing him. If they get a trade offer, however, they could consider that as the charges for the roster bonuses would be passed along to his new team.

We’ll take a deeper look at the possibility of the team moving on without Jackson or Garçon in our position outlook question later this afternoon.

Cap information from OverTheCap.com and other sources.

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Jay Gruden wants DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garçon back, but 'won't blink' if they're gone

Jay Gruden wants DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garçon back, but 'won't blink' if they're gone

The Redskins face the very real prospect of losing receivers DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon via free agency. Head coach Jay Gruden wants both players back, but is prepared to roll with the guys on the team if Jackson and Garçon depart. 

"Obviously DeSean and Pierre had great years. 1,000 yards each. Those are going to be hard to replace," Gruden said to reporters in Indianapolis. 

It's still possible the Redskins keep both Jackson and Garçon, or keep one of the two, just as both players could leave the organization. In his comments, it seemed like Gruden does not expect one or both guys to be back, and that the team will move on without them. That could mean losing Jackson's 1,005 receiving yards or Garçon's 1,041. 

"Coach the guys that we have. Free agency you’re never going to be able to sign everybody you want as a coach," he said. "I’d like to have Alshon Jeffery, Pierre and DeSean. Heck, give them all to me. I know that's not going to happen."

Gruden tends to joke often speaking with the media, and clearly the prospect of signing Jeffery, a star wideout for the Bears that will hit free agency next week, along with Jackson and Garçon isn't going to happen. The receiver market in free agency will be interesting to watch, as a number of top options will be available. Jeffery, Jackson, Garçon along with Cleveland's Terrelle Pryor and younger prospects like Kenny Stills and Kenny Britt. 

Asked if it was "necessary" to bring at least one of Garçon or Jackson back, Gruden bristled. 

"Would never say necessary. I’d love to have them both back, I'd love to have one back. If we are unfortunate enough to lose them both, I'm not gonna blink."

The coach explained the team has a good crop of young pass catchers already on the roster. 

"I do feel very good about Jamison Crowder, Ryan Grant, Josh Doctson. I love the fact that Mo Harris got a lot of work in, he’s gonna develop."

The coach should feel good about the young receivers, their development is part of his job. Crowder looks like a future star in the slot. Still, Jackson and Garçon accounted for more than 40 percent of Kirk Cousins' passing yards in 2016. That's a lot of yardage to lose. 

Of course, Doctson's development will be a major theme this offseason. A first-round pick in 2016, the Redskins got next to nothing from him as a rookie as he dealt with an Achilles injury. A healthy 6-foot-2 Doctson could offset some of the lost productivity that would come with the departure of Jackson or Garçon.

And then there is always free agency. It's entirely possible Washington could sign another, perhaps cheaper, wideout on the marketplace should they lose two the same way. Gruden said the team has 'other free agents' the team could pursue.

"We have Plan B's and Plan C's ready to go," Gruden said. 

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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The Redskins aren't willing to trade Kirk Cousins unless they are

The Redskins aren't willing to trade Kirk Cousins unless they are

Shortly after Kirk Cousins got the exclusive franchise tag from the Redskins on Saturday, two sort of conflicting reports. One, from Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, was that Cousins “is not going anywhere” and a trade is essentially off the table. Mike Florio of Pro Football talk, quoting “a source familiar with the dynamics of the situation” reported that the Redskins would have to be “blown away” by a trade offer in order to pull the trigger on a deal.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 4.0

On the face of it, the reports conflict. One says that Cousins is available, the other says that he isn’t. But that valuation of them assumes the sources for these reports were intent on putting out the truth. The fact is that Cousins is very much available for the right offer.

A conversation along the lines of this one could well take place in Indianapolis this week:

“How much do you want for your house?”

“It’s not for sale.”

“No, really, how much do you want.”

“Really, it’s not for sale.”

“I’ll give you $50,000 over whatever it gets appraised for.”

“Sold!”

In short, you don’t need to have a “for sale” sign up in front of something to sell it. In fact, sometimes it’s better to act as though you have no intention of selling whatever it is. That can intrigue potential buyers even more.

The analogy falters a bit as it seems that the Redskins are unlikely to get a premium over whatever Cousins’ valuation on the open market might be. The receiving team will have to give the QB a massive contract. In addition, a team that wants Cousins is likely to be able to get him with no compensation in a year, when Cousins is likely to be an unfettered free agent. But you get the idea.

More Redskins: What happens next with Cousins?

The message from the Redskins is, don’t come at us with a couple of mid rounders. There is some point where the compensation for giving up Cousins a year earlier than they might have to isn’t enough. It literally would be better to rent Cousins for one more season than get, say, a third-round pick with a 2018 fifth thrown in.

That being said, they are not going to get the RG3 type haul—three firsts and a second—in exchange for Cousins. The likely would accept something south of that in exchange for Cousins’ rights.

So, he’s not available at any price—unless the price is right.

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.