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Will the Redskins try to squeeze out more cap room?

Will the Redskins try to squeeze out more cap room?

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.

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Need to Know: The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Need to Know: The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, June 25, 32 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 175 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 77 days.

Days until:

—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/17) 22
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 46
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 69

The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Here are the five running backs on the Redskins’ schedule who gained the most yards in 2017. We looked at the top QBs last week.

Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys, 1,631 yards in 2016—The NFL’s leading rusher didn’t pop for a big day against the Redskins as a rookie last year. He still did plenty of damage in two games with a combined 180 yards and three touchdowns. We’ll find out in Week 8 just how much the Redskins’ rushing defense has improved.

David Johnson, Cardinals, 1,239 yards—Yeah, him again. He chewed up the Redskins in Arizona last year, picking up 84 yards rushing and another 91 yards receiving. I think I might pick Johnson over Elliott in a draft simply due to Johnson’s versatility.

LeGarrette Blount, Eagles, 1,161 yards—Blount picked up those yards with the Patriots last year and rushed for 18 touchdowns for good measure. He averaged 3.9 yards per carry, 27th among qualifying running backs. It should be noted that the Eagles probably have a better offensive line than the Patriots do. It’s safe to say Blount is one dimensional; none of the top 50 in rushing yards had fewer than his seven receptions.

Mark Ingram, Saints, 1,043 yards—While Ingram had a good year, the Saints apparently weren’t overly impressed. They signed Adrian Peterson as a free agent and they drafted RB Alvin Kamara in the third round. We’ll have to see who is healthy and on the field in Week 11

Melvin Gordon, Chargers, 997 yards—The 2015 first-round pick missed the last three games and most of another one with an injury. When healthy, he was very effective. His stats projected over 16 games come to over 1,300 yards.

Best of the rest: Carlos Hyde of the 49ers just missed the top five with 988 rushing yards last year Besides Kamara, the only running backs drafted in the first three rounds the Redskins will face are Dalvin Cook (Vikings) and Kareem Hunt (Chiefs). It will be interesting to see if new Rams coach Sean McVay can revive Todd Gurley, who followed a 1,100-yard rookie season with a 4.8 per carry average by gaining 885 yards with a paltry 3.2 average in 2016. Marshawn Lynch comes to town with the Raiders after spending a year in retirement; with the Seahawks, he picked up 111, 72, and 132 on the ground against the Redskins. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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In case you missed it

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Kirk Cousins shows off competitive spirit, soft touch - at Jenga (VIDEO)

Kirk Cousins shows off competitive spirit, soft touch - at Jenga (VIDEO)

After NFL minicamps end in mid-June, and before the grind of training camps start in late July, players are free to have a little bit of fun and try to relax. For Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins that evidently means a game of Jenga.

Fun at Kirk's 10 year high school reunion!!!

A post shared by Julie Cousins (@juliehcousins) on

The video comes from Cousins' wife Julie, and the caption explains that the couple were attending the quarterback's 10-year high school reunion. Looks like a fun scene, and the Michigan waterfront looks even better.

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

For anybody that has watched Cousins on the practice field or listened to him mic'd up during a Redskins game, the competitive outburst is no surprise. Cousins likes to win, period. Even at life-size Jenga during his 10-year high school reunion. 

Obviously, contract talks between Cousins' representatives and the Redskins continue, and likely will until the July 17th franchise tag deadline. Last season, Cousins threw for nearly 5,000 passing yards, completing 67 percent of his passes to go with 25 TDs and 12 INTs. He's allowed to have a little fun here and there.

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