Even after the Redskins signed Josh Norman and Jordan Reed to substantial contracts, the team still has more than adequate salary cap space to sign its other pending free agent, including quarterback Kirk Cousins.
According to www.Overthecap.com after Norman’s extension hit the books and after accounting for Chris Culliver’s release the Redskins had $117.2 million in salary cap dollars committed for 2017.
That does not count them signing their seven draft picks, which will add around $5 million to their 2017 committed money. But there also are some players counting against the cap who are unlikely to be there. It’s probably a pretty safe bet that you can subtract the salaries of Andre Roberts ($4 million), Shawn Lauvao ($4 million), and Kory Lichtensteiger ($3.5 million).
Adding in for the draft picks and subtracting for the veterans, that nets out to the Redskins having $110.7 million in salary cap commitments.
We don’t yet have the details of Reed’s contract so we don’t know how much he will cost against the 2017 cap. It’s a five-year, $50 million extension that actually starts in 2017. Usually the first year of such a deal has a lower cap number and then it grows as the years go on and the cap grows. For example, Norman’s deal averages $15 million per year and the first-year cap hit was only $8 million.
But let’s round up and figure that the 2017 cap hit will be what the average annual value of the contract is, $10 million. It might be a little higher but you’ll see in a moment that a few million dollars is not all that significant. That pushes the 2017 commitment up to $120.7 million.
The NFL salary cap this year is $155.27 million. It’s a very safe bet that the cap will increase in 2017. The increase from 2014 to 2015 was 8.3 percent. If it goes up by the same year-to-year percentage the 2017 cap will be $168 million. It may be a few million more or less but that’s in the ballpark.
Subtracting the $120.7 million that the Redskins are likely to have committed from the $168 million cap, that leaves the Redskins with about $47.3 million in sap space for 2017.
That will be more than adequate space to pay Cousins and others who might be in line for new contracts. The key will be having a salary cap structure similar to those of other successful teams. Besides Norman, if the three veterans mentioned above are released the two highest-priced contracts signed by free agents will be Stephen Paea ($5.8 million cap number) and Ricky Jean Francois ($4 million). And Paea won’t be around for that number if his play doesn’t rise to that level.
As long as Scot McCloughan continues to have productive drafts the Redskins can limit free agent signings to a supplemental way of acquiring talent, not the primary method. The organization will be able to pick and choose the players they want to keep and have a structure with some home-grown talent with large second contracts and perhaps a Norman-like free agent at the top, some moderate deals like the ones that Morgan Moses and Bashaud Breeland are likely to get forming an upper middle class, other role players who are on second contracts and then the more recent draft picks working on their inexpensive rookie deals.