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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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Should the Redskins hit more in practice? Doug Williams explains the situation

Should the Redskins hit more in practice? Doug Williams explains the situation

The Redskins do not hold live tackling drills in training camp. In fact, they don't do it all season. Head coach Jay Gruden has been clear that he doesn't think his players need that additional contact in the middle of a grueling season that stretches from late July to the beginning of January.

Doug Williams, promoted to the Redskins head of personnel this offseason, played for the organization in the days when all teams did was live hitting and tackling. In the 1970s and 1980s practices were much tougher, and Williams was asked to compare that era when he played to the current era. 

The former Super Bowl MVP explained that there was no comparison between the eras, but also dispelled any notion that the Redskins run a soft camp. The franchise simply operates within the rules of the agreement between the NFL and the NFL Player's Association.

"I think we have got to be fair because the same rules apply to every team in this league. So, we can’t use that as an excuse and I’m certainly not going to compare it to the days when I played," Williams said last week in Richmond. 

His comments came in the days after the Redskins lost the physical battle to the Ravens in the preseason opener. The tenacity of camp was not the problem in that game, Williams said. 

"The excuse of not being able to do some of the things that we haven’t done, we can’t make that excuse as far as the rules are concerned because every team has to play up under the same rules. We just have got to be cognizant of it and train the guys, ‘Hey, this is what has to happen.’ We don’t get a chance to ‘hit hit’ and practice [tackling]. In a game time, your mindset should be, ‘tackle.’"

Could the Redskins hit more in practice? Yes. There is more room for hitting and tackling in the CBA than what the Redskins do. And yes, the 'Skins did miss a lot of tackles last season. Some of the worst offenders of missed tackles are gone now though, guys like Duke Ihenacho and David Bruton. 

By the time players make the NFL, they know how to tackle. Williams used Redskins safety D.J. Swearinger as his example. 

"I watch D.J. Swearinger, who I feel like has brought a lot of swag to this defense. There’s no doubt in my mind you don’t have to tell him that when the game starts that you have got to tackle, that this is tackle football. And I think once he gets out there, you’re going to get a lot of guys that are probably going to follow D.J. and I think that’s what we need and he’s here hopefully to lead us down that path."

Football practices have changed. That doesn't mean their soft. 

<<CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS FROM REDSKINS TRAINING CAMP>>

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Redskins rookie report card: Who performed well in training camp

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Redskins rookie report card: Who performed well in training camp

Training camp presents an opportunity for a lot of players to make impressions on coaches, but none more so than rookies. For the Redskins first-year players, Richmond gave the opportunity to show they were ready for the NFL, or in some cases, they weren't quite there.

Starting with the drafted guys, and including some of the undrafted, here's a letter grade pertaining to performance through three weeks of training camp practices and the first preseason game. Starting at the top:

  • Jonathan Allen: A- The first round rookie from Alabama came on strong over the last week of practices in Richmond. Once the pads came on, Allen showed his strength and quickness as he slowly started to get time with the first string defense. In the Redskins preseason opening loss to Baltimore, Allen flashed his top-end talent in the second quarter, shedding blockers with force and technique while displaying a high motor that netted him a sack. Allen is the real deal, and any Redskins coach will tell you that.
  • Ryan Anderson: B The second round rookie from Alabama is very good at a few things. The top of that list is playing against the run. Anderson's stout toughness sets the edge with ferocity, and that skill immediately translates to the NFL game. Anderson's pass rush can use work, though his intensity will keep him in plays that others might give up on. Like many of the Redskins outside linebackers, coverage will be a problem, but that should be something coaches know and scheme around. 
  • Fabian Moreau: Incomplete The third rounder out of UCLA only practiced twice in team drills while working back from a torn pectoral muscle. Just not enough to make a judgement. 
  • Samae Perine: C Fans got excited quickly about the potential of the fourth round running back out of Oklahoma, and had this grade been given before the Ravens game, it would have been a letter grade higher. But Perine did not look ready for prime time in Baltimore, logging a fumble and dropping a pass while rushing 6 times for 15 yards. Perine has talent, but learning the intricacies of the NFL offense after spending four years in a spread offense in the Big 12 is a major jump. Perine is willing and able to block, but needs to know where blitzers are coming from. Most importantly, however, Perine needs to hit holes hard. He has the strength to be an excellent short yardage runner, but he cannot hesitate in the backfield.
  • Montae Nicholson: Incomplete Similar to Moreau, Nicholson only had two team practices as he came back from shoulder surgery. Not enough to make a judgement. 
  • Jeremy Sprinkle: C+ A fifth round tight end from Arkansas, Sprinkle came to the Redskins with a reputation as a tough blocker. That didn't seem to show up early in camp, though the second week Sprinkle started to use his big body much more effectively. Even better for Sprinkle, he showed late in Richmond that he can be more than a blocker, as some soft hands got on display. Sprinkle is the player that might force Jay Gruden to keep four tight ends. 
  • Chase Roullier: B It's odd to say, but the sixth round pick out of Wyoming is the most certain of roster locks of all the Redskins third-day draft picks. Gruden has openly talked about his desire to have a backup center he can trust, and in short order, Roullier must be that guy. If the coach wasn't comfortable with the rook, the team would have brought a veteran in to compete to backup Spencer Long. That Roullier can also play the guard spot if the team gets desperate helps. He's been fine in practice, and has gotten a few reps with the first team offense. 
  • Robert Davis: B- Fairly non-existent early in camp, the sixth round rookie WR Davis is raw. He does have serious size and speed, but this grade leans on a strong performance, er, one explosive play in Baltimore. Davis won't be relied on for much from the Redskins this season, if he makes the team, and he needs to make a big impact on special teams. Working as a gunner in drills during camp, Davis showed the fight needed to effectively play on the outside of punt coverage. That will help. This grade would probably be a C+ if not for the catch in Baltimore. 
  • Josh Harvey-Clemons: C A seventh round pick out of Louisville, Harvey-Clemons doesn't seem to have a natural fit on the roster. He's big, and maybe best suited for a dime linebacker role. Hard to imagine a roster spot for Harvey-Clemons with the team's depth at both safety and inside linebacker, but with his size and instincts, the Redskins would probably like the chance to get him to the practice squad. 
  • Josh Holsey: B For a seventh round rookie cornerback, Holsey has been impressive. A capable player in the SEC, health has been Holsey's trouble, not ability. He has a real chance at a roster spot, and the feisty attitude coaches love from small corners. Has to stay healthy, has to produce on specials. 
  • Nico Marley: B Outside of Jonathan Allen, no rookie has garnered more attention than the undrafted Marley. It started out as a bit of a gimmick, Marley is the grandson of music icon Bob Marley. He's also incredibly small for an NFL linebacker at 5-foot-8 and 200 lbs. Despite the size limitations, Marley just keeps making plays. Against the Ravens he registered a sack and was named to the Pro Football Focus Preseason Week 1 Team of the Week. Marley works as hard as anybody on the Redskins, and has earned the respect of his teammates. It's hard to imagine a roster spot for Marley; he's certainly behind Will Compton, Mason Foster, Zach Brown and Martrell Spaight at the inside linebacker spot. Would Washington love to get Marley onto their practice squad? Seems very likely. 
  • Fish Smithson: C+ An undrafted rookie safety out of Kansas, Smithson has made some plays in camp. Another practice squad candidate that needs to prove his ability on specials. 
  • Tevin Homer: C Great size for a corner, but needs to work on his technique. Many rookies have trouble turning their heads in coverave once they get to the NFL, and Homer is no different. 
  • Zach Pascal: C With Kendal Thompson off the Redskins, there is a spot on the practice squad for a wideout. Pascal has size and decent hands. 
  • Kyle Kalis, Tyler Catalina: C- Both of these guys have been getting beat in Richmond, often. I watched Kalis at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, and didn't think he had the quickness needed to play guard in the NFL. That opinion hasn't changed. Catalina has the size but needs to stay lower in his stance. 
  • James Quick: C Undrafted wideout from Louisville, Quick's built to be a slot receiver in the NFL. Needs to be quicker and work on route running.

<<CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS FROM REDSKINS TRAINING CAMP>>

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcasts, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!