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.
—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|
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.