Stop the presses (or unplug the Internet, or whatever the 2015 equivalent of that expression is). The Redskins are not spending enough cash on player salaries.
According to numbers provided by the NFL Players Association, the Redskins are among 10 NFL teams that are currently spending at a rate that is under the minimum amount of cash that they need to spend on player salaries from 2013-2016. All NFL teams are required to spend at least 89 percent of the cap in cash over that four-year span. After two years, the Redskins have spent 87 percent.
But wait, you say. The Redskins barely scraped by on the cap in each of the last two years. In 2013 they actually ended up in the red due to some bonuses that players earned. Last year they had to restructure a contract late in the year to push a relatively small amount of money into future years to barely get by under the 2014 cap. How can they possibly have spent more money?
The key to understanding this is that the requirement involves cash expenditures, essentially new money. For example, in 2013 and 2014 the Redskins had over $6.9 million in cap charges due to Robert Griffin’s prorated signing bonus. But since the money was paid to Griffin when he signed his contract in 2012, the money does not count towards the cash requirement.
Add in signing bonus charges paid prior to 2013 to players like Trent Williams, Pierre Garçon, Barry Cofield, and others and it adds up to a lot of cap room being consumed by money already paid out and not quite enough left to spend in cash.
The good news here is that this is not a huge issue for the Redskins. The two percent that they are behind in cash spending represents only about $5 million and they have two years to make it up. It should not be difficult.
So the Redskins don’t have to go on a major free agent spending spree or anything in order to make up the shortfall. Some teams like the Raiders, who are $40 million behind the cash spending pace, will be forced to be aggressive.
In fact, the Redskins don’t have to bring in a single free agent. They could invest some signing bonus money in some of their own players like Williams and Ryan Kerrigan and easily get into compliance.
If for some reason the Redskins don’t get up to the cash minimum by the end of 2016 the penalty is not that severe. They would simply have to cut a check for the difference between the requirement and the amount of cash they laid out and hand it over to the NFLPA. The union will distribute it to current and former members of the team.