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A quick peek at the Redskins salary cap situation

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What opportunities exist to increase the Redskins ‘18 salary cap surplus, and which players should the Redskins target for extensions?

Washington Redskins 2009 Headshots

All the salary cap information in this article comes from OverTheCap.com

Current salary cap situation

The Redskins are estimated currently to have cap space of $15.399m, which OTC says is thirteenth most in the NFL, meaning that its about average or slightly better.

As you probably already know, that amount is based on the top 51 salaries during the offseason. Once the team finalizes its 53-man roster and the 10-man practice squad, the cap number will change, but that’s true for every team in the NFL.

Once the season gets going, as injuries occur, some of that money will need to be used to sign replacements.

So, while $15m is a good number, it’s not a huge number. The top three teams — the Browns, Colts and 49ers — for example, have $69m, $52m and $45m respectively.

Two questions

There are two questions I’d like to touch on here:

  1. What opportunities exist to increase the cap surplus?
  2. What are the Redskins likely to use the cap surplus for?

Increasing the surplus

Let’s look at opportunities for increasing the surplus first.

The Redskins don’t typically do a lot of contract re-structuring; instead, they set up contracts quite carefully at the time they are signed, and tend to move forward with the contracts as written. When they make a mistake on a player, they tend to simply cut him from the team and take the cap consequences, occasionally using the post-June 1st designation.

There are a few opportunities for the Redskins to move on from players this season and realize some salary cap savings, but not many.

Here’s a list of players with a cap hit of $1m or more that I don’t expect to lose their roster spot:

  • Alex Smith
  • Josh Norman
  • Trent Williams
  • Ryan Kerrigan
  • Jordan Reed
  • Brandon Scherff
  • Morgan Moses
  • Vernon Davis
  • DJ Swearinger
  • Paul Richardson
  • Chris Thompson
  • Zach Brown
  • Josh Doctson
  • Jonathan Allen
  • DaRon Payne
  • Jamison Crowder
  • Preston Smith
  • Quinton Dunbar
  • Tress Way
  • Pernell McPhee
  • Mason Foster
  • Dustin Hopkins
  • Ryan Anderson
  • Nick Sundberg

Once we get to players who have a cap hit of less than $1m, the salary cap implications aren’t significant enough to really worry about which players make the roster. Roster decisions on players with cap hits of less than $1m make them largely interchangeable for cap purposes.

However, to put this set of players in context, there are currently 20 Redskins counted against the salary cap with a 2018 salary cap hit of less than $1m. Of those 20 players, I’d say that 13 of them are ‘bubble’ players.

This is the part of the roster where most of the ‘churn’ or ‘opportunity’ exists, but we don’t really need to worry about which players are in and which are out for the purposes of significant salary cap impact.

That leaves 7 guys who could lose their jobs, resulting in a larger 2018 cap surplus for the Redskins.

  • Stacy McGee & Ziggy Hood

Cutting McGee would save the Redskins $1.6m this season, but would also trigger a $3.2m dead cap hit.

Cutting Ziggy Hood would also save $1.6m, but with a much more modest dead cap hit of about $150K.

We know that the defensive line will include Allen & Payne. Ioannidis seems safe. That leaves 4 players — McGee, Hood, draft pick Settle, and Anthony Laniercompeting for what will probably be 3 spots, with Phil Taylor a dark horse to make the squad.

My expectation is that, barring injury, Ziggy Hood ends up the odd man out.

Expectation: $1.6m savings by cutting Ziggy Hood

  • Colt McCoy

The only way that Colt McCoy doesn’t make the team is if the Redskins feel that Kevin Hogan can do the job of backing up Alex Smith. The fact is, McCoy is currently the only QB on the team that knows Jay’s offense.

Expectation: Despite the opportunity to save $3m with only a $600k dead cap hit, McCoy remains a Redskin in 2018.

  • Ty Nsekhe & TJ Clemmings

Cutting Nsekhe would save the Redskins $2.9m, while cutting TJ Clemmings would save $1.9m. There will be 8 or 9 offensive linemen on the roster. I’d say that we see: TW, Lauvao, Roullier, Scherff, Moses + Bergstrom (back up center), Nsekhe & draft pick Geron Christian. Even if the ‘Skins keep one more offensive lineman, I don’t think it’s Clemmings.

Expectation: $1.9m savings by cutting Clemmings

  • Orlando Scandrick

If Scandrick doesn’t make the team, the ‘Skins will save $1.59m against the salary cap, but will trigger a $1m dead cap hit.

The Redskins are relying on a lot of young players at CB; I think they are looking for Scandrick to supply some veteran presence and a bit of ‘insurance’ against the young guys underperforming.

Expectation: I don’t expect Scandrick to ‘start’, but I expect him to make the final roster. I don’t think the ‘Skins would have given him $1m in bonus money if they were gonna let go of him at the end of preseason.

  • Deshazor Everett

Swearinger & Nicholson are roster locks. After that, draft pick Apke, UDFA Blanding, and 2017 players Everett and Smithson are probably competing for the remaining two positions.

Expectation: I’m not sure who the 4th & final safety is, but I think Everett’s veteran experience, solid play and special teams prowess keep him on the team. He only offers a cap savings of $859K anyway, and cutting him would trigger a $250k dead cap hit.

All in all, I’m thinking that only two players with a cap hit of $1m-plus are likely to lose roster spots this season — Hood and Clemmings. Those two players have a combined salary cap impact of $3.5m (1.6 + 1.9), but the roster spots they currently occupy will be filled by two younger, cheaper players, so the net cap space saved is likely to be about $2.5m.

Using the cap surplus

As we mentioned above, the Redskins currently have a surplus of about $15.4m.

  • Two expected roster cuts should increase that number to about $18m, but the expansion from 51 players to 53 at the end of preseason should add another million to the salary cap, and we add the Practice Squad to the salary cap.
  • Salary cap = $7,600 per player per week. Let’s say 10 players x 17 weeks x $7,600 = $1.3m.
  • We’re back to around $15.5m surplus.
  • The team may spend $4 to $5m on replacement players during the season, so I’m estimating that the team will, in the end, roll over $10 to $11m to the 2019 season.

What should they do with that money?

Preston Smith and Jamison Crowder will be free agents at the end of this season.

Brandon Scherff, Chris Thompson, and Josh Doctson are scheduled to become free agents at the end of the 2019 season.

It’s likely that the Redskins will want to extend at least 2 of those players, and possibly all of them.

  • Thompson is 27 now, which means he’ll be 29 by the time he is scheduled to become a free agent.
  • Crowder struggled a bit last season; 2018 is likely to be important for his future, but the Redskins have a number of developmental players who could grow into slot receivers/returners, making Crowder expendable.
  • If Doctson has a big year in ‘18, then the Redskins can exercise his 5th year option; if he doesn’t, then the team is unlikely to extend him.
  • The obvious big-dollar extension seems to be Brandon Scherff, who will need to get a huge contract.
  • Preston Smith, if he has a good season in ‘18, will probably be a priority extension as well, especially with Ryan Kerrigan becoming a free agent after the 2020 seson, when he will be 32 years old.

Poll

Will Stacey McGee be a Redskin on opening day?

This poll is closed

  • 50%
    Yes
    (1099 votes)
  • 49%
    No
    (1070 votes)
2169 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Will Ziggy Hood be a Redskin on opening day?

This poll is closed

  • 17%
    Yes
    (364 votes)
  • 82%
    No
    (1772 votes)
2136 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Will Colt McCoy be a Redskin on opening day?

This poll is closed

  • 91%
    Yes
    (1987 votes)
  • 8%
    No
    (173 votes)
2160 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Will Ty Nsekhe be a Redskin opening day?

This poll is closed

  • 95%
    Yes
    (2035 votes)
  • 4%
    No
    (105 votes)
2140 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Will TJ Clemmings be a Redskin on opening day?

This poll is closed

  • 20%
    Yes
    (420 votes)
  • 79%
    No
    (1664 votes)
2084 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Will Orlando Scandrick be a Redskin on opening day?

This poll is closed

  • 91%
    Yes
    (1916 votes)
  • 8%
    No
    (188 votes)
2104 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Will Deshazor Everett be a Redskin on opening day?

This poll is closed

  • 82%
    Yes
    (1720 votes)
  • 17%
    No
    (367 votes)
2087 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Which of these 4 upcoming free agents should be the highest priority to extend/re-sign to insure he remains a Redskin when his current contract ends?

This poll is closed

  • 58%
    Preston Smith
    (1338 votes)
  • 9%
    Jamison Crowder
    (212 votes)
  • 22%
    Chris Thompson
    (521 votes)
  • 9%
    Josh Doctson
    (216 votes)
2287 votes total Vote Now