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How much cap space will the Redskins need to sign their draft picks?

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How much cap space will the Redskins need to sign their draft picks?

After signing Josh Norman, the Redskins go into the draft with about $4.2 million in salary cap space. They will need a chunk of that to pay their draft picks but perhaps not as much as you might think.

Going into tonight’s first round the Redskins have eight picks. They have one in each of the first six rounds and two in the seventh. Thanks to the rookie salary slotting system, we know with a reasonable amount of accuracy what the 2016 cap hit will be for the contracts of each of those players.

Their top pick is the 21st overall. That player will carry a $1.84 million cap hit this year according to Overthecap.com. Here are the cap hits for each of the other picks currently held by the Redskins, rounded to the nearest $1,000.

Round (overall)-Cap hit

2 (53)-$804,000
3 (84)-$629,000
4 (120)-$585,000
5 (158)-$509,000
6 (187)-$484,000
7 (232)-$469,000
7 (242)-$466,000

The 2016 cap hits for the eight draft picks the Redskins have total $5.8 million. If you subtract that from the $4.2 million available you get a team that looks like it is $1.6 million in the hole.

But you don’t subtract nearly that much from the remaining cap space due to the Rule of 51. That rule applies during the offseason, from the start of the league year in March until Week 1 of the regular season. Teams have to be under the NFL salary cap of $155.27 million during that time, but since they can carry up to 90 players on the roster they can’t count everyone towards the cap. So the rule is that only the top 51 cap hits on the roster count towards cap during the offseason.

That means that when you add a player into the top 51 you drop the player with the lowest cap hit. So when the Redskins sign their first-round draft pick, OLB Desmond Bishop, who has a cap hit of $600,000, will drop out of the top 51, so you subtract his money from the cap total. So that $1.84 million deal counts a net of just $1.24 million.

When the second- and third-round picks are signed, they also will replace players who also have cap numbers of $600,000, making their net cap hits $204,000 and $29,000, respectively.

And when the draftees from the fourth round on sign with cap numbers of less than $600,000, they will be outside of the top 51 so they will not count against the offseason cap number at all.

If you add up the cap hits from the first three rounds, the only draftees who will count anything against the cap, it comes to $3.273 million. But then you subtract out $1.8 million ($600,000 X 3) for the cap hits removed due to the Rule of 51, the net is $1.43 million.

Subtract that from the $4.2 million and you get about $2.8 million in remaining cap space. They can fit their draft picks under the cap pretty easily.

What if they make trades? The net cap hit could go up or down some but when all of the adding and subtracting is done, unless they do something crazy like trade next year’s first-round pick for a second-rounder this year there really won’t be any significant difference. They will still be able to sign their picks and have some money left over.

To be sure, $2.8 million isn’t really enough to get through the season with the possible need to pay players on injured reserve and pay their practice squad. But they have a few moves in their pocket that they can pull out to do that when they need to.

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was-Cousins' value, the Redskins' top pick

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was-Cousins' value, the Redskins' top pick

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, January 20, 53 days before NFL free agency starts.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL franchise tag deadline (3/6) 45
—NFL Draft (4/26) 96
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 232

The Redskins week that was

Jags big win could spell bad news for Kirk Cousins—If the Jaguars’ accomplishment of getting to the AFC championship game does indeed make Blake Bortles’ job safe, the laws of economics say that the amount of money that Cousins can command in a free agent contract should go down. It’s the demand part of supply and demand and if demand goes down, prices should, too. But the NFL quarterback market doesn’t follow the laws. If the Lions see fit to pay Matthew Stafford, a quarterback under whom they have had very limited success, a contract with an average annual value of $27 million without any team bidding against them, that sets the price.

Setting the odds on what happens with Kirk Cousins—Despite his happy talk at the 106.7 The Fan event earlier this month, the possibility that Cousins will play in a Redskins uniform in 2018 does not warrant a large bet of imaginary casino chips. If you missed the post, take a look and let me know what you think of my assessment.

Don't freak out about latest Zach Brown tweet—It’s that time of year. A player sends out a tweet with no context and fans assign the worst possible meaning to it. In Brown’s case, a tweet about not getting respect was interpreted as a sign that contract negotiations with the Redskins were not going well. But JP Finlay found out that the tweet was about Brown being upset that another alternate getting selected to the Pro Bowl and not him. It still is unclear if Brown will return to the Redskins but at least there are no indications of rocky negotiations at this point.

Bang for the free agent bucks for the Redskins? Brown was a solid free agent acquisition for the Redskins last year. Terrelle Pryor, not so much. Take a look at the post for the other hits and misses in free agency.

Tweet of the week

Even though the draft is over three months away there are plenty of opinions out there as this tweet drew a ton of reaction. On the offensive side of the ball, the suggestions ran towards quarterbacks Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield although some want a running back. It will be interesting to see how those two non-conventional quarterbacks look after they spend the next few months under the microscope of the NFL draft process. The defensive name that kept coming up was Washington defensive lineman Vita Vea, a large specimen who could play the nose in base defense and move to three-technique in nickel.

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.

In case you missed it

 

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Scot McCloughan simply said what plenty of others think about Kirk Cousins

Scot McCloughan simply said what plenty of others think about Kirk Cousins

Redskins fans were frenzied when Scot McCloughan said that Kirk Cousins is a good quarterback, but not a special one. The #KirkHive shuddered and the Kirk Haters celebrated.

McCloughan, the former Redskins GM who's wildly popular with fans, explained what few people will say publicly: Cousins is a skilled player but probably not deserving of the money he might make in free agency. 

Let's start with the obvious: Cousins is good.

He's a durable passer in a league that doesn't have enough of them. He's started the last 49 games for the Redskins and thrown for more than 4,000 yards each of the past three seasons. 

Now more obvious: He isn't great.

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Bleacher Report's Chris Simms, speaking on the #RedskinsTalk podcast, said Cousins ranks about 12th among NFL passers. It's top half of the league, but it's not Top 5 or even Top 10. 

Cousins has had tremendous games with the Redskins, like a near perfect performance against Oakland in 2017 or a dominant performance against Green Bay in 2016. 

Cousins has also been awful, as recently as Week 17 in New York a few weeks ago, or an equally stinky Week 17 game against the Giants two seasons ago. 

While some might view McCloughan's statement as controversial — "He’s a good player. Is he special? I don’t see special," he told Denver radio station 104.3 the Fan — it's not. 

Plenty of people agree with McCloughan, including some in Redskins Park. Last year, a source told NBC Sports Washington that the team believed they could get nearly as much production from Colt McCoy as Cousins provided. 

Even this year, Washington head coach Jay Gruden offered lukewarm praise of his quarterback.

When the season ended, asked to evaluate Cousins' play, the coach said, "When you’re 7-9, it’s hard to say, ‘Wow, this guy really was outstanding.’ There’s a few guys obviously that jump out, Pro Bowlers like Ryan Kerrigan had a solid year. Obviously Trent [Williams] when he played was a Pro Bowl-type and Brandon [Scherff] when he was healthy was a Pro Bowl-type guy. Kirk had his flashes where he was really good. From a consistent standpoint, over the course of 16 games, you know, we’re 7-9."

That quote made headlines when Gruden said it, much like McCloughan's comments now are circulating faster than Beltway traffic. 

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Truth is, it's not new. And it's not news.

There are coaches that think Cousins is only scratching the surface of his capabilities. Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay come to mind, but both of those coaches have other QBs likely for the long-term future. 

Cousins might end up being paid like a Top 3 quarterback in the NFL, and that might be the right move given the demand at the position. Will that make him a special passer?

Not if special is defined as Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees. Even Cousins wouldn't argue with that.