The Redskins have some work to do in terms of signing free agents, both their own and possibly some from other teams. The good news is that they will have plenty of cap room to work with.
Washington will gain some cap space simply by the fact that every team will get more money to spend. The teams have been informed that the 2016 cap will increase from $143.28 million in 2015 to between $150 million and $153.4 million. Recent history indicates that the league’s preliminary estimates tend to be on the conservative side. So we will work with the $153.4 million estimate here knowing that it may be a little less or perhaps even a bit more.
The Redskins’ base cap number is higher than that because they didn’t spend all of their cap money last year. They ended the season with about $6.1 million in unspent money (cap figures via OverTheCap.com). That makes their cap number for 2016 $159.5 million.
They already have used a significant portion of that as they have 50 players under contract with salary cap charges total $145.5 million. They also have about half a million dollars in dead cap money (most of it is the $295,000 charge for cutting David Amerson last year). Subtracting those two numbers from their adjusted cap number of $159.5 million that leaves $13.5 million in cap space.
There are moves that Scot McCloughan can make that will create more cap room. We’ll look at some possible moves below. But one that he is certain to make is releasing quarterback Robert Griffin III. He currently counts for $16.1 million against the cap. When he is released, that entire amount will be added to available cap space with no offsetting dead cap money. That will bring the Redskins’ available cap space up to $29.6 million.
In any case, locking up Cousins will bring the Redskins’ cap space down to somewhere in the $10 million range. The team will almost certainly create more cap space via releasing some veterans with big cap numbers and negotiating pay cuts with other veterans. Here are some possible candidates for either being released or having their contracts renegotiated.
The organization is not going to cut all of these players. In fact, they might not cut any of them. But if all of them were cut the savings would total $37.4 million. Just for the sake of coming up with an estimate, let’s say they release some players and renegotiate deals to save about half of the potential total. That would give McCloughan about $48 million in cap space to re-sign Kirk Cousins (a move that by itself could eat up between $15 and $20 million in cap space, depending on how a deal is structured) and some other of the team’s key free agents and fill a few needs when the free agent market opens on March 9.