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Salary cap analysis: Cap casualties coming on Redskins D-line?

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Salary cap analysis: Cap casualties coming on Redskins D-line?

Salary cap review: Defensive line

As Jay Gruden continues the process of assembling the playbook, people in another part of the building at Redskins Park are looking forward to free agency and how best to utilize the approximately $28 million in cap space the Redskins have. Here we’ll take a position-by-position look at the cap situation and explore some of the Redskins’ options. So far, we’ve looked at wide receivers, offensive backs and the offensive line. Next up, the defensive line.

The Redskins currently have seven defensive linemen under contract.

Name Base Cap number
NT Barry Cofield $4,550,000 $7,602,500
DE Stephen Bowen $4,400,000 $7,020,000
DE Adam Carriker $4,700,000 $6,833,333
DE Jarvis Jenkins $927,184 $1,521,762
DE Kedric Golston $900,000 $1,120,000
NT Chris Neild $645,000 $656,475
DE Doug Worthington $645,000 $645,000
$16,767,184 $25,399,070

Some notes:

—The cap numbers for Bowen, Cofield, and Carrier are the third-, fourth- and fith-highest on the team.

—All three of those players had their contracts restructured last year to help the team get through the salary cap crunch created by the cap penalty. The restructures lowered the 2013 cap numbers for them. It increased the cap charges for Cofield and Bowen. Although we don’t have all of the details on Carriker’s restructure, it appears that he took a straight 2013 pay cut.

—The Redskins rank 10th in the NFL in cap spending at the defensive end position. They are 9th in the nose tackle/defensive tackle spending category.

—The one key free agent here is Chris Baker, who plays both the nose and end.

Adding and subtracting

There are some potential salary cap savings here. Here is the dead cap total and the net cap savings for releasing these players prior to June 1:

Name Dead Money Saving pre-6/1 Savings post-6/1
NT Barry Cofield $6,007,500 $1,595,000 $5,000,000
DE Stephen Bowen $5,040,000 $1,980,000 $4,500,000
DE Adam Carriker $3,666,667 $3,166,666 $5,000,000
DE Jarvis Jenkins $494,578 $1,027,184 $1,027,184
DE Kedric Golston $240,000 $880,000 $1,000,000
NT Chris Neild $11,475 $645,000 $645,000
DE Doug Worthington $0 $645,000 $645,000

If the Redskins do want to release any of these players there are two ways to do it. They can simply release the player and that would save them the amount on the pre-6/1 column. The team would simply absorb the full amount of whatever prorated bonuses are left on the contract. That number is called dead cap and you subtract that from the player’s salary plus workout, roster, and other bonuses they would be due for the year to get the net savings.

A team can lower the cap impact of releasing a player by either designating him as a post-June 1 cut or by releasing him after the first day of June. That way only the 2014 portion of the prorated bonuses will be charged to the 2014 cap. The rest of the dead cap is charged to 2015.

Looking at it big picture, it’s hard to justify the amount of money the team is spending on the defensive line. The defense was 17th in rushing yards allowed and while 3-4 linemen aren’t necessarily supposed to pile up big sack numbers you would like to see them get more than the 5.5 the entire line combined to get last year.

The lineman with the highest potential to become a cap casualty is Carriker. He hasn’t played since the Week 2 of the 2012 season; a couple of setbacks have hampered his recovery from a quad injury. Carriker will be 30 before OTAs are over and perhaps the only decision to be made is whether or not to release him with post-June 1 status.

The team will have to think long and hard about Bowen. He also is about to turn 30 and after starting the first 42 games he was with the team he missed the last six of 2013 with a knee injury. It seems likely that the team will keep him but they may consider the risk of letting him go a year too early to avoid keeping him a year too long. If they re-sign Baker he and Jenkins could be the starting ends.

Despite his high cap number it is unlikely that Cofield will go anywhere. He is about a week older than Bowen and his play did slip last year compared to 2012, the lack of any immediate replacement is likely to keep him in Washington.

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Need to Know: Redskins’ Friday draft picks could be just as vital to success as first-rounder

Need to Know: Redskins’ Friday draft picks could be just as vital to success as first-rounder

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, April 23, four days before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 10
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 31
—Training camp starts (7/27) 95
—Redskins opener vs. Eagles (9/10) 140

In search of someone, anyone, to stop the run

One of the areas the Redskins needed to improve last year was their rushing defense on first down. In 2015, they gave up 5.0 yards per carry on first down. That was the worst performance in the league. It’s pretty tough to play defense when a handoff makes it second and five. The Saints, who had a historically bad defense that year, were second, fiving up 4.8 yards a pop.

Well, it was no better for the Redskins defense in 2016. Again, they gave up 5.0 yards per carry on first down, again the worst performance in the league.  Remember, this is on first down, when teams are most likely to run.

The Redskins’ problems on third down were well known. They were dead last in the league allowing first downs on 46.6 percent of third-down attempts. For context, an average performance on third down is allowing about 38 percent and the best teams are around 35 percent.

That doesn’t tell the whole story, however. The Redskins weren’t very good at getting teams to third down. They allowed first downs on 33.8 percent of their opponents’ second-down plays. That put them in the bottom third of the league. Again, you don’t have to look too hard to connect the dots to link that back to the five yards per rushing play on first down. Second and five is a piece of cake most of the time.

You don’t need an advanced degree in statistical analysis to figure out that the Redskins defense isn’t going to get much better if they can’t stop teams from running the ball on first down.

It’s easy to point to the defensive line, which has not been very good, and say that the problem is there. That certainly has something to do with it. But the Redskins didn’t have a very good D-line in 2014 and they allowed 4.1 yards per first-down rushing attempt, a performance that was right at the league average.

The factor that was common in 2015 and 2016 and was different in 2014 was the defensive coordinator. It’s possible that opposing teams found a flaw to exploit in Joe Barry’s scheme that wasn’t there in Jim Haslett’s (which surely had flaws in other places).

But X’s and O’s can only get you so far. The Redskins will be looking to take a defensive lineman early and perhaps use an additional pick or two at the position later in the draft. While getting one who can rush the passer would be a plus, they need a run stuffer who can take snaps on first down and bottle up the ground game.

The focus in the draft will be on the first-round pick but, as has been discussed here many times, that pick is unlikely to be a defensive lineman. There isn’t likely to be one at 17 who would represent good value. That could mean that the Redskins’ second- or third-round pick, perhaps an interior lineman like Caleb Brantley of Florida, Larry Ogunjobi of Charlotte, or Montravius Adams of Auburn, is just as important to the team’s success as the first-round pick.

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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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Mock drafts, cap bargains

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Mock drafts, cap bargains

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, April 22, five days before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 20
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 32
—Training camp starts (7/27) 96
—Redskins opener vs. Eagles (9/10) 141

The Redskins week that was

Redskins full 2017 schedule released—Even with the Caps and Wizards in full playoff mode, the DMV stops to take a look and see when the Redskins will be playing. The Thanksgiving game was surprising. It’s another working day but I worked at various places since I was 14 and last year was the first time I’ve had to work on Thanksgiving so I can’t complain too much about working two in a row. It’s a small price to pay for having the best job in the world.

Don't count out any RB for Redskins at 17—Yeah, I know that NFL teams aren’t supposed to take running backs in the first round any more. But that is one of those trends that comes and goes. In 2013 and 2014 there were no RBs taken in the first. Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliott in the last couple of years began to shift the thinking. If the Redskins think that Dalvin Cook or Christian McCaffrey can help them win games more than any other player on the board they should pull the trigger.

Rise of Patrick Mahomes could bring big payoff for Redskins—It seems likely that quarterbacks Deshaun Watson and Mitchell Trubisky will be taken before the Redskins pick at No. 17 goes on the clock. That means that two players in whom the Redskins might be interested will be available, pushed back by the quarter backs. Could Mahomes, out of Texas Tech, push a third player back to Washington. The buzz is that a team might grab him in the first half of the first round.

The Redskins' five best salary cap bargains for 2017—When I started pulling the numbers for this post I thought I’d find more key players with salaries of under $1 million. I only found three and one of them is the kicker. This means that they don’t have very many late-round or undrafted players who are contributing a lot of value. They need more out of players like Anthony Lanier, Matt Ioannidis and Maurice Harris. That is how a team thrives in the salary cap era. A couple of Saturday picks could make or break this draft.

Redskins mock 2.0 goes offense early, defense often—There are a lot of ways the first 16 picks of this draft can work out. It seems almost certain that everyone’s favorite first-round pick, a stud defensive lineman, won’t be a realistic option on the board. This could send things in an odd direction for the Redskins. It’s fun to do a mock and I’ll do one or two more prior to draft day but there are too many variables to think that it has a high degree of accuracy. 

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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