The Redskins have about $25 million in salary cap space, assuming that the NFL cap comes in at the $143 million that the NFLPA estimated last week. They created over $9 million in space last week when they released defensive linemen Barry Cofield and Stephen Bowen. With free agency starting a week from tomorrow, are there any other cap casualties to be announced? If they want more cap space, are there other ways to create it?
There may be a few options but the Redskins are running out of players whom they can afford to cut and will create substantial savings against the cap. In fact, if you define “substantial” as $2 million or more, there are only two.
Guard Chris Chester, who has played virtually every snap on the Redskins line since signing as a free agent in 2011, has a $4.8 million cap number. He is 32 and while the coaching staff has a higher opinion of his level of play than do Redskins fans, he will need to be replaced sooner rather than later. Releasing him would save $4 million against the cap.
If the Redskins plan to use Chester in a reserve role this year or have him compete for the starting job with a younger player, perhaps Spencer Long, a third-round pick last year, they could offer to keep him at a reduced salary. Chester would have to agree to that and figure out if he could get more money in the open market, if he really wants to start over with another team at his age, and various other factors.
The other possible cap casualty is cornerback Tracy Porter. Unlike the durable Chester, Porter didn’t play much after signing with the Redskins. He was brought in to be the nickel back a year ago but between hamstring and shoulder injuries he played just 89 snaps.
The issue here is that they are thin at cornerback especially given the uncertainty surrounding the health of DeAngelo Hall, who twice tore his Achilles last fall. They could perhaps keep Porter around and then release him if it turns out that Hall is good to go and additional depth can be found in free agency or the draft. But the risk there is if Porter should suffer a season-ending injury the Redskins will be on the hook for his $2.25 million 2015 salary and $250,000 roster bonus. Releasing Porter would save $2.3 million against the cap.
There is plenty of talk of the possibility of the Redskins creating more cap room by extending the contracts of Ryan Kerrigan and/or Trent Williams or by doing something with Pierre Garçon’s deal. I wrote last week why there are no options to adjust Garçon’s contract that really make sense.
There does seem to be some movement towards giving Kerrigan an extension sometime soon, although nothing appears to be imminent. But it may not make sense to do a deal that would substantially lower his cap number, which is a shade over $7 million. A Kerrigan extension will average at least $10 million per year. Sure, they could create a contract that would have a 2015 cap hit of, say, $4 or $5 million. But Kerrigan isn’t going to sign an extension that gives him a pay cut this year; in fact, he will be looking for a substantial increase. Any money saved this year would have to be paid down the road. The smart thing to do would be to take the hit this year and deal with it now instead of later.
As far as Williams goes, neither side seems to be very anxious to get a deal done. Williams is due over $12 million in salary and roster bonus this year so his bank account will do fine with or without a new deal. And the Redskins apparently want to see if he can remain healthy for a full season in order to gauge his value more accurately.