Here is what you need to know on this Friday, February 16, 26 days before NFL free agency starts.
No cap casualties?
NFL free agency less than four weeks away. It’s the time of year when veterans who have big salaries for the coming season but not enough recent on-field production to match the money don’t want to answer their phones. On the other end, there may be a team executive informing them that they have become cap casualties.
It’s not hard to identify the candidates for being let go. There isn’t an exact formula but it’s some combination of age, where you rank in salary at your position, and how you performed the previous season including games missed due to injury. NFL.com has this list of 21 cap casualty candidates. And those are just the ones in the NFC. You can find more lists elsewhere. In addition, many more lesser-known players suddenly will become free agents as teams venture to find younger and cheaper solutions.
But you won’t find many Redskins on these lists. They have about $31 million in cap space after you subtract out the $17 million hit for QB Alex Smith that will hit the books when the trade with the Chiefs becomes official. They don’t have much flexibility because nearly all of their high-priced players are necessary, productive members of the team.
The only Redskin whose name is on the NFL.com list is in the fine print on the bottom of the post, under “other players in trouble”. Defensive lineman Terrell McClain, who will turn 30 just before training camp starts and missed four games with a toe injury last year, has a $4.7 million cap number including $3.25 million in salary. There is some conflicting information on if that salary is fully guaranteed at signing or if it becomes guaranteed at some point next month. If the guarantee doesn’t kick in until later now, releasing McClain would only save about $980,000 in cap space. If it’s guaranteed now, there would be a net cap charge of nearly $2 million.
In either case, there aren’t many Redskins who are not in the plans who could save a significant amount of money. There are four players who would save over $4 million in cap space if released. But they are not going to move on from Josh Norman, Trent Williams, Ryan Kerrigan or Jordan Reed.
Some might argue that Reed is not worth his $10.1 million cap hit. If you base it on just his 2017 production, the point has some validity. But the Redskins are not going to give up on him just one year into the five-year extension he signed in 2016. He will get at least another year, maybe two, to show that he can stay healthy and regain the form that made him one of the league’s top tight ends. In addition, there would be $5.4 million in dead cap associated with cutting Reed, a factor that would cement the decision to keep him around.
Some veterans might be endangered after free agency or following the draft. If the Redskins land a top defensive lineman, Ziggy Hood could get released, saving about $1.1 million in cap space. Or if McClain is still around, he could be a post-June 1 cut, spreading his dead cap hit out over two seasons.
—NFL Combine (3/1) 13
—NFL Draft (4/26) 69
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 205
Tandler on Twitter
The NFL Draft starts 10 weeks from today. pic.twitter.com/urWhY7XwYM— Rich Tandler (@TandlerNBCS) February 15, 2018
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