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The CBA and the Redskins

The CBA and the Redskins

As expected, the NFL owners voted to end the collective bargaining agreement between the league and the players association on Tuesday. The unanimous vote has no immediate impact but it does start the clock ticking towards an uncapped year in 2010.

That season with no salary cap has many Washington Redskins fans gleefully anticipating a Dan Snyder spending spree to end all spending sprees. It's a long way to go before getting there and it would not be the nirvana that many think it would be.

Let's forget just a minute about how players would have to be in the league for six years instead of the current four in order to be eligible for unrestricted free agency, resulting in an older, thinner group of free agents. And never mind that any potential free agents actually would have to be, you know, free agents for the Skins to be able to sign them. They couldn't throw the Washington Monument and White House at Peyton Manning because he's under contract.

The simple fact is that in the billionaire's club that is the NFL, Snyder isn't up there with the real big boys when it comes to personal wealth. To be sure, unlike Buffalo's Ralph Wilson and Wayne Weaver of the Jags, he sits at the grownups' table, but Seahawks owner Paul Allen could pull enough out of petty cash to buy and sell Snyder a few times over. Snyder made his money in advertising; Jerry Jones made his in oil. Jones' black gold fortune is substantially larger than what Snyder amassed in marketing.

So, even if the Redskins could find enough free agent players that filled their needs, there is no guarantee that they could win a bidding war for the services of those athletes.

It does appear, however, that the Redskins are better prepared for a potential labor standoff than they were the last time the CBA was being negotiated all of two years ago.

Going into the 2006 offseason, the Redskins were way over the cap, some $20 million over the $95 million limit. Some provisions that took effect in the last capped year before an uncapped year (2007 would have been uncapped had the current agreement not been hammered out) that made it impossible for the Skins to use some of their usual methods to restructure deals and lower their cap numbers.

The Skins were headed for cap hell. Not the kind that everyone keeps predicting for them, the kind that never comes. Real, true cap hell.

From an article in this blog entitled "Cap-tastrophe" from February 20, 2006:

One of the problems with cutting players is that with the contracts structured as they are and the fact that most of the contracts are pretty new, there isn't much money to be saved in releasing a lot of players with big camp numbers. For example, LaVar Arrington counts about $12 million towards the '06 cap, but releasing him would result in a slightly higher cap charge than that because of uncharged money already paid to him.

It's like being upside down on a car loan, when the car is worth less than the payoff amount. Cutting Arrington would the put Redskins further away from the goal of being able to get under the cap. The same is true of such players who might be considered expendable in a crisis such as Mark Brunell and David Patten.

Now, to be sure, there are players that the team could release that actually could save money. Some of these players are ones that the Redskins would rather not cut such as Marcus Washington, Ladell Betts, Jon Jansen and Joe Salave'a. However, the Redskins could cut those four plus Taylor Jacobs, Renaldo Wynn, Pierson Prioleau, Philip Daniels, James Thrash, Cory Raymer, John Hall, Patrick Ramsey, Walt Harris, and Matt Bowen and still be about $8 million shy of being able to make it under the cap.

To realize the maximum cap savings, which are obviously necessary, these players would have to be replaced with rookies earning the minimum salary. Thus the "15-20 rookies" alluded to by Prisco and Pasquerelli.

Many Redskins fans have blocked this from their memories since, after a few extensions of the deadline, an agreement was reached and a level of cap hell that no team ever has experienced was averted.

The Redskins appear to have learned from this brush with death. While the same restrictive provisions will be in place in 2009 if there is no agreement before the free agency period starts, the Skins aren't in danger of being decimated this time around.

They only are a few million over the projected 2009 cap and there are a few players who could be cut to save enough money to get them safely under the limit.

There is plenty of time to hash this over in the coming months. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out.

Rich Tandler's Redskins blog archive is located here. You can reach him by email at rich.tandler+bleachers@gmail.com.

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Need to Know: Another big day on the ground on tap for the Redskins?

Need to Know: Another big day on the ground on tap for the Redskins?

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, December 11, eight days before the Washington Redskins host the Carolina Panthers.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Redskins vs. Eagles 1 p.m.

Days until: Panthers @ Redskins 8; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 13; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 21

Injuries of note:
Out:
G Long (concussion), S Blackmon (concussion), DE Lanier (leg)
Limited: TE Reed (shoulder), G Scherff (ankle), DE Jean Francois (knee/foot), DE Baker (ankle), G Shawn Lauvao (groin)
Final injury report

Final thoughts on Redskins vs Eagles

—The Redskins have not stopped a team in a goal to go situation since September. The Eagles are good in such situations, converting TDs 84 percent of the time. If the Redskins can get a stop and force a field goal try when the first time the Eagles get down there that would be a big psychological boost for the visitors. Or, better yet, maybe they can just not let the Eagles get any first and goal opportunities. That’s what happened when the teams played in Week 6.

—In that Week 6 meeting the Redskins rushed for 230 yards, their best performance on the ground this season by 79 yards. Matt Jones picked up 135 yards on 16 attempts, Rob Kelley had 5-59, and Chris Thompson kicked in with 9-37. It’s unlikely that Jones will be active so it will be up to Kelley to get things rolling on the ground.

—For all the talk about Kirk Cousins having the Eagles’ number, he had one of his worst statistical games of the year against them in Week 6. He completed just 52.9 percent of his passes, his lowest completion percentage of the season. Cousins also threw perhaps his worst interception of the year, a pick six that tied the game at 14 in the second quarter. The bottom line was that he made some plays and the Redskins won but he likely will have to play better this time for his team to prevail today.

—Carson Wentz has six interceptions in his last three games, including three last week against the Bengals. Josh Norman is due to get an interception, overdue, in fact. Don’t know what will happen but the chances seem good that a Redskin will get his hands on a Wentz pass today.

—We saw last week that the Redskins are not a lock to go on the road and win against a team that is desperately fighting for its playoff life. Fortunately for the Redskins, the Eagles do not have players who are the equals of David Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, and Patrick Peterson. While plenty can go wrong I think the Redskins come away with with the win.

Redskins 28, Eagles 24

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Redskins bring former starting center back to active roster

Redskins bring former starting center back to active roster

The Redskins officially brought Kory Lichtensteiger back to the active roster, and while the move is now for depth, it could have other ramifications down the road. 

The move is on the NFL's transaction report for Saturday. To make room for Lichtensteiger, the team released defensive lineman A.J. Francis. 

Dealing with injuries up and down the line of scrimmage, Lichtensteiger's return could give the offensive front more flexibility. When Lichtensteiger got injured Week 3 and sent to the injured reserve, third-year pro Spencer Long stepped in and performed well at center. Last week in Arizona, Long sustained a concussion.

That injury opened the door for John Sullivan, who will start this week in Philadelphia with Long ruled out. Sullivan was brought in as a backup to Long once Lichtensteiger was put on IR. With Long now in the NFL concussion protocol, the Redskins need another center should Sullivan get hurt. Alas, Lichtensteiger's return from the IR. 

Left guard Shawn Lauvao also sustained an injured groin, and that's where things could get interesting. Long is capable of playing guard, as is Lichtensteiger in a pinch. Should Lauvao's injury persist, Lichtensteiger might be able to help there.

Against the Eagles, the plan certainly appears to be second-year man Arie Kouandjio starting in place of Lauvao. Kouandjio made one earlier start this season - Week 4 against Cleveland - and the results were mixed.

If Kouandjio stumbles and Lauvao needs more time, Lichtensteiger's return to the roster gives Jay Gruden and Bill Callahan more flexibility, especially when Long returns from injury.

In fact, once the team has Long, Lichtensteiger and Sullivan healthy, there could be a bit of a logjam roster-wise on the offensive line, but considering all the injuries, bumps and bruises that are part of O-line life by the last four games of the season, the Redskins staff likely won't mind figuring that out. 

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