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
—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.
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.
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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.
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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