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Salary cap review: Redskins have flexibility on offensive line

Salary cap review: Redskins have flexibility on offensive line

Salary cap review: Offensive line

As Jay Gruden continues to assemble his coaching staff, 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. Earlier we looked at wide receivers.

The Redskins currently have 11 offensive linemen under contract.

Name Base salary Cap number
Trent Williams $7,250,000 $10,985,198
Chris Chester $3,000,000 $4,300,000
Will Montgomery $2,625,000 $3,425,000
Kory Lichtensteiger $2,500,000 $3,300,000
Tyler Polumbus $1,000,000 $1,100,000
Josh LeRibeus $590,000 $764,081
Maurice Hurt $645,000 $645,000
Adam Gettis $570,000 $620,493
Tom Compton $570,000 $570,000
Kevin Kowalski $495,000 $495,000
Tevita Stevens $495,000 $495,000
$19,740,000 $26,699,772

—Williams has the highest cap number on the team. He was the fourth pick in the 2010 draft, the last one before the 2011 CBA put a lid on windfalls for top-10 picks. Fortunately for the Redskins he still represents a good value; about $11 million is the going rate for a Pro Bowl left tackle. The deal has one year left to run ($14.2 million cap number in 2015).

—Counting all of the linemen under contract, the Redskins’ total cap expenditure of $26.7 million on the offensive line ranks fifth in the NFL.

—The high expenditure on the line is due in part to Williams’ contract. The fact that under Mike Shanahan the team was unable to draft an offensive lineman who can start besides Williams is another major factor here. Considering that his zone-blocking scheme is supposed to be able to make starters out of lower-round picks, this has to be considered a major failure of Shanahan’s time here.

Adding and subtracting

Williams isn’t going anywhere. But the futures of Chester, Montgomery, Lichtensteiger, and Polumbus, who have played virtually every snap the last two years, could well depend on how Jay Gruden and Sean McVay judge their performances on film and if they are going to make any major changes to their basic blocking scheme.

The good news for the Redskins is that they will be dealing from a position of strength here. None of the four 2013 starters has a salary cap number that is unreasonably high so they can afford to keep any of them they want to. At the same time, the cap hit for releasing any of them should the team want to do so is also very manageable.

Here are the 2013 dead money totals and net cap hits for releasing those players:

Name Dead Money Cap savings
Chris Chester $1,600,000 $2,700,000
Will Montgomery $1,500,000 $1,925,000
Kory Lichtensteiger $2,200,000 $1,100,000
Tyler Polumbus $100,000 $1,000,000

This shows that the Redskins have a great deal of flexibility. They probably don’t want to keep any of the four as a backup with the exception of Polumbus (considering strictly salary cap factors here). If they bring in a relatively high-dollar player, somebody is probably going to have to go. But if they want to bring in competition from the draft or to let the veterans battle for their jobs with players who are already on the roster such as Compton, Gettis, or LeRibeus, their $29 million in cap room allows them to do so. They could choose to hold on to any of them and then make a move whenever they decide the time is right.

If the Redskins decide to stand pat on the line, they will be in good shape there, too. Polumbus is a free agent at the end of this season while all of the other linemen on the roster are under team control through 2015.

So, what are the Redskins going to do on the offensive line this offseason? Whatever they want to.

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Risk vs reward when Redskins consider Alabama LB Reuben Foster in NFL Draft

Risk vs reward when Redskins consider Alabama LB Reuben Foster in NFL Draft

An undeniable talent, Reuben Foster seemed for months to be a lock for the Top 10 of the 2017 NFL Draft. The Alabama star is a sure tackler, playmaking force and winner of the 2016 Dick Butkus Award as the nation's best college linebacker.

The actual football season went great for Foster, he logged 115 tackles and was named the SEC Championship Game MVP. Since play on the field stopped, things have stalled. Foster had an unfortunate incident at the NFL Combine, where he was sent home after an altercation with a hospital worker. In the time since, it's come out Foster tested positive for a diluted urine sample and will enter the NFL in the substance abuse program. 

Still, despite a tough two months, Foster's talent is too rich to pass up for some NFL teams. And per NFL Network's Lance Zierlein, the Redskins could be that team

In his mock draft released Wednesday, Zierlein predicts Foster's draft day slide to end with Washington at the 17th pick. From NFL.com:

Foster could fall due to off-field concerns and worries about injuries, but he fits a need for the Redskins, bringing a tough playmaker into the fold.

Beyond the diluted sample and the combine altercation, Foster also has had stinger issues throughout his career at 'Bama. He has elite speed at the linebacker position and the type of athleticism defensive coordinators dream about, though some pro scouts question if he can handle the calls of a Mike linebacker in the NFL game.

The Redskins are not desperate for interior linebacker help, this season. The team added Zach Brown in free agency, re-signed 2016 defensive captain Will Compton earlier this week and Mason Foster remains under contract. All three players, however, are headed to free agency in 2018. Adding Foster would provide depth this year and a potential star in the future.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Final Redskins seven-round mock draft: Defense first, a surprise in the third

Final Redskins seven-round mock draft: Defense first, a surprise in the third

We’re a day away from the start of the NFL draft and all the questions surrounding the Redskins’ intentions will start to get answered when they go on the clock at about 10 p.m. on Thursday.

[More Redskins: Full Redskins Seven-Round Mock Draft]

Speaking at the team’s annual pre-draft news conference, Scott Campbell, the team’s director of college scouting, stuck with the company line when he was asked about making picks based on team needs.

“I’m going to frame the answer, and the age-old answer of ‘I’m going to take the best player available,’” he said. “And if that serves your needs, that’s a bonus.”

It would be a big “bonus” for the Redskins if a defensive lineman who can rush the passer and stuff the run was the best player on the board when their first-round pick comes up at No. 17. But it doesn’t look like the board will play out that way. That’s OK because the Redskins have plenty of needs.

In fact, it’s not hard to do a mock draft for the Redskins because they have needs at virtually every position. Certainly, some needs are more urgent than others. But once you get past the first couple of rounds there is enough doubt at each position, whether it’s immediate depth or possible free agency holes in 2018, to get that need “bonus” with every pick.

Campbell said that this is a strong defensive draft and this is reflected in these mock selections, with six of the 10 picks going to defense including the top two. The first offensive pick may surprise some but the talent was just too good at that point in the draft.

Go here to see the full seven-round mock draft.

Your comments are welcome, as always. Make them here in the comments or hit me up on Twitter and Facebook.  

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.