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Redskins salary cap outlook: Would a Cousins contract be a cap killer for the Redskins?

Redskins salary cap outlook: Would a Cousins contract be a cap killer for the Redskins?

The Redskins have found their offensive and defensive coordinators and they are ready to get on with the business portion of the offseason. The big question between now and the middle of March is how they will divvy up their $62 million in cap space. Here we’ll take a position-by-position look at the cap situation and explore some of the Redskins’ options. 

Cap info via www.OverTheCap.com

The Redskins currently have these quarterbacks under contract.

—Colt McCoy, 2017 cap hit $3.6 million, under contract through 2018
—Nate Sudfeld, $574,334, through 2019

Free agent: Kirk Cousins

RELATED: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Couins contract and more

Notes:

—We’ll look at the Cousins situation below.  

—McCoy is in the second year of a three-year, $9 million contract he signed last year. His salary is $2.8 million this year and in 2018. The last year of the contract will void f he plays more than 65 percent of the snaps this year. What that means is that if Cousins either isn’t here or is unavailable and McCoy starts enough games he will be a free agent in 2018

—Sudfeld is in the second year of his four-year rookie contract.  

Positional spending

2016: $22.8 million, 8th in NFL
2017: $2.8 million, 29th in NFL

Adding and subtracting:

Do the Redskins keep Cousins and if they do how do they do it?

The franchise tag option is simple. If Cousins gets tagged his salary would be 120 percent of his 2016 cap number of $19.94 million. That comes to $23.93 million.

The percentage multiplier comes into play because a player getting tagged gets either the tag salary, which is around $21 million for quarterbacks this year, or 120 percent of his previous season cap number, whichever is higher. Cousins makes out better with the multiplier so that would be his salary.

The salary is fully guaranteed when Cousins signs the tender and the entire amount counts against the current salary cap.

RELATED: #RedskinsTalk Podcast - It's tag day

It should be noted that the exclusive tag, which would not allow Cousins to negotiate with other teams, likely would cost the same as the non-exclusive tag due to the 120 percent rule.

What if the Redskins sign Cousins to a contract? While the details are important, for the sake of seeing how much salary cap a Cousins contract might consume, we can look at some possible annual cap numbers. Using the contract extension that Andrew Luck signed a year ago as a guideline and adjust the numbers downward about $2 million per year, here are some possible cap hits for a $22 million per year Cousins contract and how much of the cap the contract will consume with an estimated annual cap increase of eight percent.

2017 cap hit $17.4 million, 12.1% of cap
2018 $22.4 million, 12.3%
2019 $25.5 million, 13.0%
2020 $26.4 million, 12.5%
2021 $19 million, 8.4%

The cap numbers are the estimated $168 million this year and projected increases of eight percent per year after that would have the cap numbers at $181 million, $195 million, $210 million, and $226 million in 2021. It should be noted that the CBA expires after the 2020 season so the cap structure could change.

Since the Redskins have a lot of cap room this year they could choose to structure the deal to have more of the money hit the cap in 2017 and reduce the impact later on to give them more flexibility.

Certainly, paying 12 to 13 percent of your available salary cap space to a player to represents 1.9 percent of the players on the roster (1 of 53) make things a little more difficult. It would mean that the Redskins would have to draft well and get productive snaps out of players who are on their rookie contracts. They also need to pick and choose some of their draft picks to extend when the time is right. A few other players can have big contracts but obviously, the number must be limited.

More Redskins: Will the Redskins keep Garçon?

If they put the tag on Cousins and then trade him and go with McCoy and Sudfeld at quarterback, they will have about $64 million in cap space to work with. They would be smart to put some of that aside for the future since at some point the organization is going to have to pay a quarterback big money and figure out how to assemble the rest of the team.  

If the Redskins sign Cousins to a deal similar to the example above, they would still have $47 million in cap space and the ability to create about $10 million more with releases and renegotiations plus nine draft picks to try to improve last year’s team. That is not a bare cupboard for the organization to work with.

Salary cap outlook series

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: Redskins starters quick hitters, defense—Year 3 huge for Preston Smith

Need to Know: Redskins starters quick hitters, defense—Year 3 huge for Preston Smith

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, March 27, 31 days before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/17) 21
—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 46
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 58
—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/15) 110
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 158

Redskins starters quick hitters—defense

DE Stacy McGee—He had his best season last year despite missing seven games with a lingering ankle injury. McGee had just half a sack and no forced fumbled in his first three seasons. Last year he got 2.5 sacks and two FF’s. Improving with experience or turning it on for a contract year? We’ll see.

DE Terrell McClain—The Redskins will be his fifth NFL team in seven seasons, an unusual career path for a one-time third-round pick. Like McGee, in 2016 he exceeded his previous career totals in sacks and forced fumbles.

NT Phil Taylor—Yes, he’s the starter if the season began today. Taylor got off to a nice start after the Browns make him a first-round pick in 2011, starting 16 games and registering four sacks as a rookie. But injuries have taken their toll and he hasn’t played a snap since 2014. He is far from certain to play in 2017, either, if the Redskins can get a good nose tackle candidate in the draft.

ILB Will Compton—Compton is a defensive captain and while he doesn’t make a ton of big plays, his interception in London likely prevented a loss to the Bengals. Still, the Redskins gave him the minimum restricted free agent tender, a sign that they think they could recover if another team signed him away.

ILB Mason Foster—Should the Redskins draft an ILB who can start early, Foster likely will go back into the nickel linebacker role he assumed when Su’a Cravens was out injured.

OLB Ryan Kerrigan—Although his income has jumped up to eight-figure territory he still drives the same Chevy SUV he’s had for several years. That sort of attitude will serve him well as his career goes on.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 6.0

OLB Preston Smith—The third year is huge for Smith, who has had flashes of dominance followed by weeks of near invisibility. If we see the Smith who showed up against the Vikings more often he could be in line for a big contract extension. But if he’s a no-show too often, edge rusher will appear at the top of the Redskins’ needs list in 2018.

CB Josh Norman—Hopefully, Greg Manusky will have Norman on the other team’s No. 1 receiver from the first snap of Week 1 on. The Redskins were 0-2 before Joe Barry started having Norman shadow and that had them behind the eight ball all year.

CB Bashaud Breeland—He always has a “it’s me vs. the world and all the haters” type of mentality, which is good for a cornerback. It will be interesting to see how he performs in a contract year.

SS Su’a Cravens—Some are skeptical that he has the coverage skills to be a quality strong safety. We won’t really know until he does it.

FS D.J. Swearinger—There also is skepticism regarding the free agent signee. Can he play free safety after playing strong for most of his career? He did it some in Arizona last year but we’ll have to see if his aggressive style will work while being the last line of defense week in and week out.

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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Don't believe trade hype: Bruce Allen insists Kirk Cousins will be Redskins quarterback in 2017

Don't believe trade hype: Bruce Allen insists Kirk Cousins will be Redskins quarterback in 2017

Kirk Cousins will be the Redskins quarterback in 2017. Period. At least that's the word from team president Bruce Allen.

"That's why we franchised him," Allen said of Cousins.

Asked about numerous trade rumors and reports on the Redskins single season passing record holder, Allen dismissed them all.

"I can't keep up with the rumors," Allen said. "Kirk and I have talked almost a dozen times this offseason, and we get to laugh when we hear these different rumors. We haven't talked to anyone."

MORE REDSKINS: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 6.0

Allen has spoken with Cousins representatives a number of times this offseason, and the organization still wants to get a long-term deal done with their passer. 

"Our goal from the beginning has been long-term," the team president said. "I'm still hopeful and confident we'll do it."

The team could again use a tag on Cousins, an option Allen mentioned. 

MORE REDSKINS: Exclusive: Allen answers questions on McCloughan firing