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Playing GM: What has free agency done to the Redskins cap space?

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Is the $14m remaining cap space sufficient?

NFL: International Series-Washington Redskins at Cincinnati Bengals Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

I was sitting on my sofa wondering how much cap space the Redskins had left after the flurry of activity this week, and it occurred to me that other people might be wondering the same thing.

We all know that, a month ago, the Redskins had the 5th highest of cap limit in the league. We also knew then that it would shrink quickly if Kirk Cousins was hit with the franchise tag, which took a $24m bite out of the team’s cap space.

As I sit here and type this, the best estimate I have for Redskins available cap space on the 11th of March 2017 is $14.305m.

This raises a few questions for me:

  • Is this enough?
  • Where did all the cap space go?
  • How much space is available in 2018?

Let’s look at the second question first: Where did all the cap space go?

  1. Kirk Cousins - Kirk has a one-season hit of $23.944m
  2. . Free Agent Frenzy - The four free agents signed from other teams have taken another $16.25m

Stacy McGee $3.19m

Swearinger $3.33m

Terrell McClain $3.73m

Terrell Pryor $6m

3. Re-signing the Redskins own unrestricted free agents - Three free agents have cost $5.18m

Vernon Davis $3.33m

Nick Sundberg $1.052m

Junior Gallette $800K

4. Tendering restricted free agents & exclusive rights free agents - Four players combine for a $5.848m cap charge

Chris Thompson $2.746m

Will Compton $1.797m

Ty Nsekhe $690K

Vinston Painter $615K

So, 12 players on the roster have eaten up the majority of the Redskins 2017 available cap space.

Question 2: So, is the $14m in available cap space enough?

When it come to money, I guess there’s never ‘enough’, but the amount that’s left is likely to be sufficient to the Redskins’ needs.

(One thing to note is that only the top 51 salaries count against the cap. Right now, the last 11 players count for $615,000 each. Any player signed at that price won’t count toward the cap, and any other player signed will push one of these guys below the 51-player cutoff, creating a $615K “credit”. In other words, if we sign a player with a $2.615m cap charge, the available cap space will only reduce by $2m because one of the players at the bottom of the list will be pushed past the 51-player limit.)

A. The Redskins need to account for their “rookie pool” — the amount of money likely to be needed to sign the Redskins 10 draft picks. OverTheCap estimates the Redskins rookie pool at $7.489m.

B. They need to “keep some powder dry” to be able to sign players during the season to replace injured players on the 53. They probably need to keep at least $5m available going into the season.

So, the rookie pool and ‘keeping powder dry’ mean that the Redskins need to reserve around $12.5 million of the $14.3m remaining. So, the team has — say — $2.4m left to spend in free agency (The $1.8m difference + the $615K ‘credit’ from the 51 player limit).

Well... maybe.

The team could create a lot of new space by cutting some players:

Cutting DeAngelo Hall would add $4.25m to the available money.

Cutting Shawn Lauvao would add $4m.

Cutting Niles Paul would add $2.2m.

So, with 2 or 3 strokes of the pen (or the sword) the Redskins could add up to $10.45m in cap space.

If they had to choose between retaining Hall & Lauvao or signing Bennie Logan, I don’t think there would be much hesitation.

In other words, the Redskins have enough space to sign their draft picks & UDFAs, take care of all their needs, and still sign one or two more quality unrestricted free agents.

Note: Of course, the Redskins cap space situation for 2017 would be affected — possibly quite dramatically — if they trade Kirk Cousins or sign him to a long term deal.

Question 3: How much cap space is available in 2018?

WIth all the activity the team has had, it would be easy to get worried about the impact on future years.

Well, the Redskins (according to OverTheCap) have an estimated $68.7m in available cap space for 2018.

The main reason for this generous amount of available cap space is, of course, that Kirk Cousins isn’t under contract for 2018. A large chunk of that money may be needed to solve the Redskins quarterback dilemma.

The team will also have some significant players that will become free agents in 2018 who will need to be re-signed, extended or replaced out of that available pool of funds. The following list is not comprehensive:

  • Trent Murphy
  • Morgan Moses
  • Baushaud Breeland
  • Spencer Long
  • Ty Nsekhe
  • Chris Thompson
  • Will Compton
  • Quinton Dunbar
  • Junior Gallette
  • Mason Foster
  • Terrelle Pryor
  • Ricky Jean Francois
  • Dustin Hopkins