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Redskins' salary cap space tight but no real urgency to create more

Redskins' salary cap space tight but no real urgency to create more

After signing four veteran players in the past 10 days, including wide receiver DeSean Jackson, the Redskins’ cap space is getting tight, with just over $2.5 million left. That's less than all but three NFL teams. However, there is no particular urgency for them to do anything about it.

They released three players on Saturday but the impact on the cap was minimal due to the Rule of 51. That rule states that up until the final cuts are made in late August only the top 51 salary cap numbers on the team count towards the salary cap. This is how a team can afford to carry 90 players on the roster and still stay within cap limits.

When a player who has a cap number in the top 51 is cut, his number comes off the books and it is replaced by the player whose cap number was 52nd.

Josh Hull, Josh Bellamy, and Ryan Mouton, the three players who were released Saturday, all were on minimum salary contracts. They were replaced in the list of 51 top cap numbers by three others who also are making the minimum. So it’s pretty much a wash.

They have 71 players on the roster so they can sign 19 more to get up to the 90-man roster limit. Unless they sign anyone who is making substantially over minimum salary the cap impact will be minimal or non-existent.

Only two members of their draft class will have any immediate cap impact. The top two picks will count a total of about $500,000 against the cap. The rest will have cap numbers that will fall outside of the top 51.

So, unless another DeSean Jackson situation falls into their laps, the Redskins can roll along with their $2.5 million in cap space for the time being. They can sign their draft picks, some undrafted free agents and, if necessary, low-cost veterans to fill out their 90-man roster. When the season starts all of the 53-man roster plus players on injured reserve, the practice squad and any injury settlements paid count against the cap. They probably will need to create some more cap space by then. But they have plenty of time to evaluate and figure out the best course of action.

The Redskins have no salary cap urgency to make a move but they still need to carefully consider making a few. The offseason workout program starts tomorrow and players will report to Redskins Park to begin the conditioning phase. That marks the start of something of a danger zone for the team. If any player is seriously inured during the workouts and is out for the season the team will be on the hook for that player’s fully salary. And, once the season starts, it will count against the cap.

So if the Redskins have a higher-priced veteran player they think will have a difficult time making the team they might consider releasing him. Although the chances of someone getting seriously injured in conditioning drills are slim, weight room accidents and slips leading to torn ACLs do happen.

If they think that higher-priced veteran can help them they should keep him around. Again, there isn’t a great deal of risk here. But the lower the chances of a veteran making the 53-man roster are, the better it is to exercise an abundance of caution.

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Redskins plan to 'spy' Cardinals' David Johnson with rookie Su'a Cravens, per source

Redskins plan to 'spy' Cardinals' David Johnson with rookie Su'a Cravens, per source

Facing one of the NFL's best running backs in Arizona's David Johnson, the Redskins plan to use rookie linebacker Su'a Cravens as a spy in nickel coverage to slow down the Cardinals' threat, per a source close to the team.

Johnson ranks third in the NFL with 921 rushing yards, but it's the variety of ways the Arizona offense uses their second-year running back that makes him so difficult to handle for opposing defenses. Johnson also has 55 catches for 613 yards, and that's just through 11 games.

Cravens comes into the game with momentum as perhaps the Redskins most dynamic defensive threat. With size to play linebacker and enough speed to play coverage, the 6-foot-1, 220 lbs. rookie out of USC will be put in a tough position covering Johnson. The reality of his assignment is to try and contain Johnson as the Cardinals offense is so reliant on the runner that he will get a number of chances.

In their last two games, Johnson has gone for more than 150 total yards in each contest and scored multiple touchdowns. For his part, Cravens has proved a playmaker in his rookie season. To go with 29 tackles in nine games, his stat sheet has sacks and an interception listed.

Getting to Carson Palmer is the best path for the Redskins defense - especially considering the Cardinals' offensive line woes - but using Cravens to try and limit Johnson is a smart course of action for the 'Skins.

One member of the Washington defense explained that Johnson is "going to make plays" but that the key is to limit the damage. If the running back catches a ball out of the backfield, Joe Barry's defense will be focused on making a stop after a five-yard gain, instead of a 20-yard gain.

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Redskins vs. Cardinals Live Updates: Score, stats, highlights, analysis, video

Redskins vs. Cardinals Live Updates: Score, stats, highlights, analysis, video

The Redskins and Cardinals highlight the Week 13 schedule with a showdown in the desert with heavy NFL playoff implications on the line.

If the Redskins (6-5-1) can score a victory over the Cardinals (4-6-1), the team can move closer to solidifying one of the top two Wild Card spots in the NFC playoff race.

Depite the Redskins' difficult Week 12 loss to the Cowboys, Kirk Cousins is playing the best football of his career as of late, and earned the NFC Player of the Month honors for his efforts.

While running back Robert Kelley did have a slip-up against the Cowboys, the team's run game still looks vastly improved from the early season, which allows the passing game to thrive even more. Jamison Crowder continues to impress, and although Jordan Reed will miss the Cardinals game with an injury, Vernon Daivs has proven to be an excellent option for Cousins.

The most entertaining matchup of Week 13 might be Redskins DB Josh Norman vs. Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald, but the most important matchup will undoubtedly be the Redskins defensive line vs. Cardinals RB David Johnson. 

RELATED: NFL PLAYOFF SCENARIOS HEADING INTO WEEK 13

Johnson trails just DeMarco Murray and Ezekiel Elliott -- who finished with 83 yards and one TD in Week 12 -- in total rushing yards with 920 and trails just Elliott and Legarrett Blount in rushing touchdowns with 10. The Redskins rank 25th in rushing defense, and have given up an average of 108 rushing yards in their last five games.

Redskins vs. Cardinals kicks off at 4:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, Dec. 4 on FOX. Redskins Kickoff gets things started at 3:00 p.m. ET on CSN Mid-Atlantic. (Channel Finder)

CSN is providing all the live updates, stats, scores, highlights, videos and analysis from Redskins vs. Cardinals. Got a comment on the game? Be sure to let us know in the comment section and join Santana Moss and Sebastian Salazar at halftime for the Facebook Live Q&A.

RELATED: BEST & WORST REDSKINS ALTERNATE UNIFORMS

Redskins vs. Cardinals Live Updates

PREGAME:

10:30 AM: Game Preview: The five things you need to know before Redskins vs. Cardinals.

1. Keep it moving
2. Missing in action
3. Consider the source
4. Problems don't go away
5. Harder they fall

10:15 AM: Be sure to follow CSN Insiders J.P. Finlay and Rich Tandler, who are at University of Phoenix Stadium in Phoenix, Ari. Also, give our CSN Redskins Twitter account too. Come for the analysis, stay for the dank memes.

10:00 AM: Welcome to CSNMA's live updates blog of Week 13 Redskins vs. Cardinals. As always, I am Troy Machir and today I will be your online guide to Redskins vs. Cardinals football in the painted desert of the southwest. If you have an issue with me, you can cuss me out on Twitter, 140 characters at a time. It's fun.