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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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The Final Countdown: Eli Manning goes deep for the Redskins 7th worst play of the year

The Final Countdown: Eli Manning goes deep for the Redskins 7th worst play of the year

As should be expected when a team goes 8-7-1, there were plenty of good moments and a lot of frustrating times during the Redskins’ 2016 season. Over the next couple of weeks, Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will take detailed looks at the 10 best plays of 2016 and, to present a more complete picture of the season, the 10 worst.

No. 7 worst play of 2016

Giants at Redskins, Week 17

4:02 left in Q4, Giants ball 1st and 10 at their own 31, game tied 10-10

Eli Manning pass deep left to Tavarres King pushed ob at WAS 25 for 44 yards (Will Blackmon).

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Tandler: It looked like the Redskins were on the verge of saving their season. They were down 10-0 in the third quarter but they battled back to tie it up in the late going. But after lulling the Redskins defense to sleep with running plays and short passes, Manning launched one deep down the left sideline. King, who had one reception for six yards on the season coming into the game, had a step on cornerback Greg Toler and he hauled in the pass for 44 yards. Four plays later Robbie Gould kicked a 40-yard field goal to give the Giants the lead.

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Finlay: In a terrible game that led to many more questions than answers for the Redskins, this play was just a huge, huge disappointment. Washington fought back to tie up a game that they had largely been outplayed in, particulrly in the first half. Remember, the Giants had nothing to play for while for the 'Skins, a win would put them in the playoffs. The New York offense was laregly nonexistent in the second half of this game, as it became obvious Eli Manning did not want to get hit. And still, the embattled Redskins defense gave up a long pass play to a dude that had contrbuted basically nothing all season. 

10 best plays countdown

10 worst plays countdown

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Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN 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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Report: One team Redskins need to watch out for when it comes to Kirk Cousins this offseason

Report: One team Redskins need to watch out for when it comes to Kirk Cousins this offseason

Mike Shanahan likes Kirk Cousins, both as a person and as a quarterback. The former Redskins coach has made no secret about that. Luckilly for the 'Skins, especially with Cousins staring at free agency, Mike Shanahan is no longer coaching in the NFL.

His son Kyle, however, seems highly likely to take over as San Francisco 49ers head coach. And soon.

Kyle Shanahan currently serves as the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons, and once their playoff run ends, most expect Shanahan to be named Niners head coach. 

Why should Washington fans care? Allow ESPN's Adam Schefter to explain:

Kyle Shanahan is set to become the San Francisco 49ers' head coach after Atlanta's season ends. San Francisco needs a quarterback as much as any other team in the league. If Cousins is available, the 49ers would pursue him as hard as they've pursued Shanahan.

Even if Washington tags Cousins, San Francisco could attempt to pry him loose in a trade with a package that could include this year's No. 2 overall draft pick. And if Washington doesn't want to deal now, it could have issues later.

This news should not be a shock to Skins fans, but it should be taken seriously. Remember, Kyle Shanahan was part of the Washington organization when Cousins was drafted and the duo worked together in 2012 and 2013. Most quarterbacks would love to run Shanahan's No. 1 ranked offense from Atlanta, and the guess here says Cousins would probably jump at the opportunity. 

Still, much must be worked out.

While some in the Washington front office might have questions about what the long-term value should be in a Cousins contract, the team still has some control. They can place the franchise tag on Cousins this season, like they did last season, and work until mid-summer on a multi-year deal. Or Cousins can again play on a franchise tag in 2017, like he did in 2016 and passed for nearly 5,000 yards.

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What makes Schefter's report the most interesting is the mention of the No. 2 overall pick. Observing the Redskins in 2016, it became obvious the team needs more impact players on defense, and with the second overall pick combined with their own 17th pick and eight more after that, that could deliver an immediate boost. 

Whatever boost a package of draft picks might bring in will be hard pressed to match the production of Cousins. Finding a starting quarterback in the NFL is exceptionally hard, and while Cousins has shown flashes of a special player, he has certainly confirmed he is a capable player in two seasons at the helm of Jay Gruden's offense.

Scot McCloughan and the Redskins brain trust have a few more weeks before free agency, and with it, the deadline to again place the franchise tag on Cousins. It's nearly impossible to see a scenario where Cousins hits the open market this season, but if the No. 2 overall pick comes into play, other scenarios start to seem more possible. 

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

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!