A few questions will be answered as the Redskins start up their OTAs today in Ashburn. At a handful of positions, it will be interesting to see who lines up with the first team. While jobs that are up for grabs are not won in May with the opening game 111 days away, lining up with the first team sends a signal that it is the players job to lose.That can be the case even when the job is a backup role. Left guard Kory Lichtensteiger will be sitting out as he rehabs his injured knee. Does Maurice Hurt, who filled in there for the last half of the season, line up at left guard in Lichtensteigers absence? Or will it perhaps be rookie Josh LeRibeus?There is no question about who we will see with the first unit at quarterback. And it is likely that Robert Griffin III will be handing the ball off to Roy Helu Jr. The anticipated battle for the starting running back job between Helu and Tim Hightower will not take place until training camp as Hightower recovers from a knee injury.One third of the teams trio of top receivers will be sidelined today. Leonard Hankersons surgically-repaired hip isnt recovered enough for football activities so hell watch Pierre Garon and Josh Morgan catch passes from RG3. Santana Moss should be the third wide receiver but that spot will bear watching. If Anthony Armstrong or Aldrick Robinson gets significant time there, that could be a sign that the team is looking at moving on without Moss. That is not expected but there is always a surprise or two during this part of the year.Adam Carriker has been the staring left defensive end for the past two years. Jarvis Jenkins was drafted in the second round a year ago to take his place. Jenkins suffered a torn ACL in a preseason game so the plans were put on hold for a season. Will Jenkins line up with the first team today?The rest of the defensive front seven is pretty well set as are the starting cornerbacks. But when they line up with three corners, who goes in with Josh Wilson and DeAngelo Hall? Will it be Kevin Barnes, who held the nickel corner job las year? Or Cedric Griffin, the veteran free agent signed in March?Finally, who does secondary coach Raheem Morris line up at safety? It seems likely that Tanard Jackson, who followed Morris here from the Bucs, will get one of the spots. Will the other safety be be free agent Brandon Meriweather? Or will DeJon Gomes get the first crack at holding on to the job he had at the end of last season?Again, nothing is set in stone in May. But any player would rather be working with the first team than not.
It still seems like a long-shot the Redskins trade Kirk Cousins, but if there is one persistent rumor, it's that the San Francisco 49ers want the Washington passer. The story is too familiar at this point: New Niners coach Kyle Shanahan was in D.C. when Cousins was drafted and wants the quarterback to come run his offense in San Francisco. With the second overall pick, the 49ers have a tremendous asset they can dangle in trade talks.
Whether or not any of this rumor is true, it sure makes for engrossing speculation. With the NFL Draft Combine next week in Indianapolis, NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah said he wouldn't be shocked to see the trade go down.
That's the backdrop. Beyond the debate of the merits of trading an established QB like Cousins, which is a very serious debate, there's also the notion of what player the 'Skins would select with the second overall pick.
MORE REDSKINS: 2017 top heavy Cap could be a problem
It's worth examining the impact players available to Washington with the second selection in the 2017 NFL Draft, and the options are varied, including perhaps a new QB. Check it out.
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It seems almost inevitable that the Redskins will put the franchise tag on Kirk Cousins between now and the March 1 deadline. This will set the Redskins up to have a very top heavy salary cap structure.
As the website Spotrac noted yesterday, if the Redskins do tag Cousins, giving him a cap hit of $24.9 million, he, Josh Norman ($20 million cap number) and Trent Williams ($15.1 million) will account for a total of $59 million against the cap or 35 percent of the estimated $168 million cap for the 2017 season.
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That’s a lot of money to go to 5.6 percent of the players on the roster. To compare, the top three players on the Cowboys’ cap account for 34.2 percent of the cap. The top three with the Giants take up 29.7 percent and in Philadelphia it’s 17.8 percent. In fact, a check around the league shows that none of the 2016 AFC or NFC playoff teams has a higher percentage of their cap expended on its top three than the Redskins have on theirs.
This caused some consternation among Redskins fans and while it’s something to keep an eye on it does not present a big issue for the team at this time.
For one thing, the Redskins still have a good amount of cap room. If you assume the Cousins tag, they still will have about $40 million in cap space with the ability to create perhaps $10 million more by releasing some veterans and/or redoing some contracts.
Also, it’s a temporary situation. Let’s say that the Redskins hang on to Cousins with a long-term deal and he has a $22 million cap number in 2018. If that the case then Cousins, Norman ($17 million), and Williams ($13.9 million) would still be the top three players on the cap number list and they would total $52 million. On a cap that is projected to be $178 million that would be 29.2 percent of the total. That’s still on the high side but certainly manageable.
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And if you are going to have three players taking up a high percentage of the cap they should be your quarterback, left tackle, and No. 1 cornerback. Those, along with an edge rusher, are the most important players on the team and it’s appropriate to have them among you highest-paid players.
Still, the Redskins must be careful. Signing another free agent with a cap hit like Norman’s is out of the question. And as key contributors like Morgan Moses, Trent Murphy, Jamison Crowder, and Brandon Scherff become eligible for contract extensions or for free agency over the next couple of years, the organization needs to be sure that there is room to retain their own players when the time comes.