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Need to Know: 2019 salary cap may drive some draft day decisions

Need to Know: 2019 salary cap may drive some draft day decisions

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, April 5, 21 days before the NFL draft.  

The salary cap and succession planning

It’s too early to panic, or even be concerned, but the Redskins are in a bit of a salary cap squeeze. No, not this year. They have about $15 million to work with after accounting for signing their draft picks. The problem is a year down the road. 

According to Over the Cap, the Redskins have about $9 million in 2019 salary cap space to work with, assuming that they exercise their fifth-year option on guard Brandon Scherff. Only two teams have less to work with. 

The Redskins will have options to create more by releasing some high-priced players. But if they are going to do that without creating a need to sign high-priced free agents to take their places they need to do some succession planning and that starts in the draft. 

Here are a few areas where they could be looking for eventual starters in the draft. 

Cornerback: The veteran who might have the biggest target on his back next offseason is Josh Norman. He will turn 31 in December and his 2019 cap number is $14.5 million. If they move on from him, they would create $8.5 in cap space. It would not be surprising to see them draft a cornerback. That player may not directly replace Norman; he could be a later-round pick who serves as depth behind potential starters Fabian Moreau and Quinton Dunbar. It’s also possible that Orlando Scandrick will be one and done, saving $3.75 million. 

Inside linebacker: There was some celebration among Redskins fans when the team re-signed Zach Brown last month. And his salary cap number this year is a very manageable $2.95 million. But a year from now, Brown will be 30 and he will have a cap number of $8.75 million. The Redskins could trim $5.75 million in cap space by drafting Roquan Smith or Tremaine Edmunds and moving on from Brown. 

Tight end: You need a crystal ball to figure out this one. Will Jordan Reed ($9.72 million cap charge) stay healthy for enough games in 2018 to warrant that salary? Will Vernon Davis ($6.33 million), who will be 35 next offseason, finally fall to the undefeated Father Time? Even if both play well this year, $16 million for tight ends may be too much for a team that is in a cap crunch. If the right tight end is on the board, the Redskins could grab him at any point after the first round. 

At this point in time, it is far from automatic that any of these players will be salary cap casualties. If they have good seasons, of course, the team will find a way to keep them on. 

Releasing players is not the only way to create cap space. The Redskins could get more breathing room by restructuring some contracts, although the cap space they can create this way is limited because the best candidates for such a move, Norman, Trent Williams, and Ryan Kerrigan, will only have two years left on their contracts. They also could ask some players to take pay cuts. 

But if you see a player picked a cornerback, tight end, or linebacker, there is no need to wonder what the need is. The Redskins would be anticipating needs for 2019.

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

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Timeline  

Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/16) 11
—Training camp starts (approx. 7/26) 113
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 157

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—All-Redskins mock, fast-fading interest in Dez

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—All-Redskins mock, fast-fading interest in Dez

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, April 21, five days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins and NBC Sports Washington

Should the Redskins pursue Dez Bryant? This topic was one like a meteor, very hot for a short period of time before it quickly faded out. It started to heat up as soon as the Cowboys cut Dez (about a month too late) and when it was reported that he wanted to play against Dallas twice a year it really picked up steam. But then people started to actually think and figured out that signing Bryant didn’t make much sense for the Redskins. Add to that the reports that the Redskins had no interest and would not look into signing Dez in the future and the Redskins fans quickly lost enthusiasm for the topic.

Seven-round Redskins mock draft—I think that most Redskins fans would be happy with this mock. Well, I’ll say some Redskins fans, most is a pretty strong word in this case. 

Is the draft pool deep enough for the Redskins to trade back? There is plenty of talk about the Redskins trading down in the first round to recoup the third-round pick they gave up in the Alex Smith trade. But they need to be careful. Many consider the draft to be top heavy and they may lose their chance to pick up an impact player if they trade back too far. The question then becomes one of quality vs. quantity. 

Three questions as offseason workouts get underway—There will be plenty more questions that we can ask about this team. But we don’t really know what to ask before the draft, particularly when it comes to the defensive line and running back. One the personnel settle into place we will know what we don’t know. 

Tweet of the week

On Chris Cooley’s thought that the Redskins might try to trade back and get Da’Ron Payne in the draft and the use the assets obtained to move up to get Derrius Guice. 

This is related to the questions about trading back. On paper it looks like a good idea, assuming the Redskins want Payne. We’re pretty sure they would like to have Guice but we haven’t heard as much about the Alabama defensive lineman. 

I had many reply that Guice won’t be there in the second round. It’s possible, perhaps even likely, but you just don’t know. There was zero chance that Jonathan Allen would be there at No. 17 last year, right? 

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

Timeline  

Days until:

—OTAs start (5/22) 31
—Training camp starts (7/26) 96
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 141

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Redskins' schedule "rest disparity" is very fair in 2018

Redskins' schedule "rest disparity" is very fair in 2018

The NFL started taking into account a new factor when putting together its schedule this year. The concept is called rest disparity. It stems from a complaint made by the Giants last year. And, of course, when the Giants have a cold, the NFL sneezes and immediately does whatever it takes to cure the cold. 

Here is how Peter King laid it out this morning on the MMQB:

Last year, I heard the Giants were not pleased with their schedule because they felt they were too often playing teams more rested than they were. In consecutive October weeks, they played teams coming off byes, for instance. The NFL calculated a figure for every team based on the number of combined days of rest for their foes or for the team, calculating, for instance, in those two weeks, the Giants were a minus-14 (minus-seven for each of the foes, Seattle and Denver, coming off byes). In all, by my math, the Giants were a league-worst minus-22 in “rest disparity.”

So the schedule makers worked to minimize the rest disparity this year. According to King, the worst rest disparity in the league this year is minus-11. The Giants are minus-eight. 

The question that Redskins fans will have immediately here is if the Giants’ rest disparity was reduced at the expense of the team in burgundy and gold. The answer that will surprise many is no. 

The Redskins rest disparity in 2018 will be either minus-one or zero. The variance is due to the possibility that their Week 16 game in Tennessee will be flexed to a Saturday game (see details here). If the game stays on Sunday, they will be at minus-one in rest disparity. If it gets moved, they will have had exactly as much rest over the course of the season as did their opponents, in aggregate. 

If you're interested in the nitty-gritty, here is how it breaks down. In eight or nine of their games, they will have had the same amount of rest as their opponents. They play one game coming off of their bye, a Monday night game in New Orleans. The Saints play the previous Sunday, giving Washington a plus-seven in days of rest. That is canceled out when they play the Falcons in Week 9 after Atlanta’s bye. 

Due to their Thanksgiving game, they get three extra days off going into their Week 13 Monday night game in Philadelphia. Two weeks later the Jaguars will have those three extra days of rest when they host the Redskins, having played on Thursday in Week 14.

They lose a day relative to their opponents coming off of those Monday night games against the Saints and Eagles. The Redskins get an extra day prior to visiting the Giants in Week 8 as New York has a Monday night game in Week 7. 

So far, that comes to minus-one in rest disparity. That will remain in place if they play the Titans on Sunday, December 23. If the game is flexed to Saturday, they will gain a day of rest on the Eagles in Week 17, zeroing out the rest disparity for the season. 

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