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Looking ahead: Redskins should have substantial salary cap space in 2016

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Looking ahead: Redskins should have substantial salary cap space in 2016

The Redskins should have a substantial amount of salary cap room to work with as Scot McCloughan works to continue to rebuild a team that has been struggling for most of the last 25 years.

As of right now, the Redskins have $142.3 million in salary cap expenditures on the books for 2016 (cap information via Over the Cap). The cap for next year is expected to increase from $143.8 million to somewhere in the vicinity of $150 million. In the last few years, the early estimates on the year over year cap increases have proven to be too conservative so the ’16 cap could well be more than $150 million. But that is the number we will use for the calculations here.

So at first glance the Redskins have only about $7.7 million in cap space but there are plenty of adjustments that need to be made here. The first one is going to subtract from the available space. As of now, they have 47 players under contract for 2016. When the league year starts on March 9 the top 51 cap numbers on the books will count the limit. To account for this we will add four players at 2016 first-year minimum salaries of $445,000. That will bring their expenditures up to $144.1 million and their cap space down to $5.9 million.

Now we can start adding to the cap space. There are currently about $7 million under the cap for this year and they will be able to roll any unspent money into their 2016 cap. They may have to spend some of that $7 million if any more players wind up on injured reserve since they would have to sign replacements. So let’s go with $6 million getting rolled over into next year, giving them $11.9 million in 2016 cap space.

Now let’s look at possible salary cap cuts. One player whose current contract certainly won’t be on the books next year is Robert Griffin III. His option year salary is occupying $16.1 million in next year’s cap. It seems highly unlikely that he will be back next year but even if he is it won’t be at his option year salary. He will be released before the salary becomes fully guaranteed on March 9, freeing up that cap space and putting the Redskins at $28 million.

Griffin is unlikely to be the only cap casualty. Here are some players who look like they could be candidates to be released due to some combination of salary, age, health, and performance.

Player-age 2016 opening day-net cap savings

  • WR DeSean Jackson, 29, $6.7 million
  • S Dashon Goldson, 32, $8 million
  • DE Jason Hatcher, 34, $4.2 million
  • CB DeAngelo Hall, 32, $3.4 million
  • WR Andre Roberts, 28, $3.0 million

If the Redskins release all of the players—and in reality they probably will release some, keep some, and negotiate salary reductions for some—they would take another $25.3 million off of their cap. That means that they potentially could go into the league year with $53.3 million in cap space.

They will have to use some of that cap space to sign some of their own free agents (post on that coming tomorrow). But their two high-dollar players, Kerrigan and Williams, are already accounted for. And, again, not all of the potential cap casualties will actually be released. In any case, the Redskins will have plenty of flexibility and a lack of cap space will not be an obstacle towards McCloughan accomplishing what he believes he needs to do.

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The Cardinals could be the cure to the Redskins' pass rushing issues

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USA TODAY Sports

The Cardinals could be the cure to the Redskins' pass rushing issues

The Redskins have not had a very good year when it comes to sacking the opposing quarterback. They have 31 sacks for the season, 17th in the NFL.

They had a then-NFL best 32-game streak with at least one sack came to an end in Week 10 against the Vikings.

Ryan Kerrigan is doing well with 9.0 sacks to his credit. Preston Smith has five but only a half since Week 6. Matt Ioannidis and Jonathan Allen were forming a solid interior pass rush tandem early in the year but Allen went on injured reserve with a Lisfranc injury and Ioannidis suffered a broken hand that limited his playing time and effectiveness.

MORE REDSKINS: IS GALETTE ON HIS WAY OUT?

But the cure to the Redskins’ pass-rushing ills just may be coming to town on Sunday in the form of the Arizona Cardinals and quarterback Blaine Gabbert.

The Cardinals have given up 44 sacks on the season; that’s 31st in the NFL.

Things have gotten worse in the last couple of weeks, with Gabbert going down a combined 15 times against the Rams and Titans.

If you think that the Cardinals may have hit rock bottom, consider that two starters, left tackle Jared Veldheer and right guard Earl Watford, won’t be playing due to injuries.

Will Holden, a rookie fifth-round pick, will start at left tackle and Evan Boehm, who lost his job to Watford earlier this season, will be the right guard.

Of course, the Redskins have to go out and make it happen. The entire Cowboys offense was slumping until they met the Redskins a couple of weeks ago. They can’t be a haven for a struggling unit once again.

In any case, it is an opportunity that is in front of the Redskins. It’s up to them to take advantage of it.

RELATED: REED LIKELY TO STAY IN 2018

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.

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Need to Know: State of the Redskins, Week 15—Looking for motivation

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Need to Know: State of the Redskins, Week 15—Looking for motivation

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, December 14, three days before the Washington Redskins play the Cardinals at FedEx Field.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Practice 1 p.m.; Jay Gruden and Greg Manusky news conferences and open locker room after practice, approx. 3 p.m.

Days until:

—Broncos @ Redskins Christmas Eve (12/24) 10
—Redskins @ Giants (12/17) 17
—NFL Draft (4/26/18) 133

State of the Redskins

Top storylines

Jobs on the line? It’s been the conventional wisdom that the jobs of Jay Gruden and his staff are safe, barring a complete collapse at the end of the year. Well, after two ugly losses we are 40 percent of the way to a complete collapse. The Redskins don’t even have to look good down the stretch, they just need to win two of the final three and be competitive in the other. Gruden might be able to survive a couple more games like the Cowboys and Chargers debacles but if that happens I wouldn’t want to be him on January 1, the day after the season ends.

Shutdowns started—Jordan Reed going on injured reserve could be the first of a few moves to end the seasons of players who won’t be healthy in time to play in more than one or two games. It lets the player dive into rehab and it lets the team sign and get a look at a player who can stay on the roster through the offseason and compete for a roster spot in 2018. There could be more coming up until Week 17.

Playing out the string—Last week, when the Redskins were technically alive for the playoffs they apparently couldn’t muster enough motivation to prepare properly. It will be interesting to see how they react this week with their playoff odds reduced to zero.

Last three games

Sunday vs. Cardinals (6-7)—The Cardinals have fallen even further than the Redskins. Two years ago, they were on their way to a first-round bye and an appearance in the NFC title game. This season they are 6-7 after suffering from a raft of injuries, including losing their starting QB and All-Pro running back David Johnson. Can two teams with nothing to play for put on an entertaining show?

Christmas Eve vs. Broncos (4-9)—And in comes another team that has fallen even further and harder. The Broncos were lifting the Super Bowl Trophy two years ago. Now, the defense that spearheaded that run is still solid but without a reliable quarterback, they are having issues. At this point, your guess at if it will be Paxton Lynch, Trevor Siemian, or Brock Osweiler starting at quarterback is as good as mine.

New Year’s Eve @ Giants (2-11)—Will this game be bye-bye to Eli? Changes are coming to New York and Manning, sometimes a Redskins nemesis and sometimes a player who gift-wrapped wins for Washington, could be on the way out. The Redskins could be playing to avoid the kind of upheaval that has already begun in the Big Apple.

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.

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