There is chatter out there that the Redskins are looking to do something with Pierre Garçon’s contract. That deal has two years left to go with cap hits of $9.7 million this year and $10.2 million in 2016 and Redskins may want to lower that number.
The problem is that there isn’t a way to lower the wide receiver’s cap hit that makes sense for both the player and the team. Here are the possibilities.
A straight pay cut—This is the solution that will work out best for the team. Garçon would have to agree to a reduction in his base pay. His contract calls for a salary of $7.1 million plus a workout bonus of $150,000 and per-game roster bonuses that can total $250,000. The Redskins could offer to cut the base pay to somewhere in the $4-$5 million range. That would put the ball in the court of Garçon’s camp. They would rightfully ask why he should take a pay cut. His production didn’t drop from 113 receptions in 2013 to 68 last year due to anything he did wrong. Garçon was not responsible for the three-man carousel the Redskins had going at quarterback nor did he make the free agent deal that brought in DeSean Jackson, cutting into his chances. I can’t see any reason why Garçon would agree to a reduced salary.
A simple restructure—They could convert up to about $6 million of his salary to signing bonus and split that cap charge between this year and next. That would reduce his 2015 cap number to around $6.7 million. But his 2016 cap hit would balloon to over $13 million. It would add $3 million to the dead money if they decide they want to move on from him a year from now, when he will be 30 by the time the season starts. Since they aren’t in any particular cap problems as of right now and could create some room by releasing some older, costlier players, there isn’t any reason to make a move like this.
An extension—They could agree to a contract extension for Garçon, and format it in such a way that would reduce the cap hit this season. But, again, if Garçon doesn’t agree to take less money an extension that would kick in for his age 31 season just doesn’t make much sense. Some receivers still thrive well past 30; others see declining production. How much will Pierre Garçon be worth in 2017? It’s very risky to predict that right now. The Redskins could structure it in a way where they could get out of it with relatively little pain after 2016. But I don’t know why Garçon would agree to a deal that would very possibly put him on the free agent market at age 31.
From here, it looks like only three options are realistic in this situation:
Keep the status quo—Just pay him and focus on getting the ball to him more often.
Trade him—Perhaps a team would give up a third- or fourth-round pick for a player who had over 100 catches two years ago. The $7.5 million salary plus bonuses might be a little steep but the team landing Garçon would not pick up any guaranteed money obligations. The Redskins would incur $4.4 million in dead cap charges but save a net of $5.3 million against the cap this year and $8 million in 2016.
Release him—The cap consequences would be the same as trading him.