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Need to Know: Does a top-heavy cap structure mean trouble for the Redskins?

Need to Know: Does a top-heavy cap structure mean trouble for the Redskins?

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, June 2, 11 days before the Washington Redskins start their mandatory minicamp on June 13.

Timeline

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/27) 55
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 69
—Season opener Eagles @ Redskins (9/10) 100

While vacationing this week I’m still keeping Need to Know rolling with some new content along with some of the most popular posts of 2017. This one goes into the latter category. It originally was published on February 22 and some numbers have been updated for today’s version.

Does the Redskins’ top heavy cap structure mean trouble?

After they put the franchise tag on quarterback Kirk Cousins and he signed it, the Redskins have a very top-heavy salary cap structure.

As the website Spotrac noted, since the tag gives Cousins a fully guaranteed salary of that all hits the cap in 2017, he, Josh Norman ($20 million cap number) and Trent Williams ($15.1 million) will account for a total of $59 million against the cap or 35 percent of the $167 million cap for the 2017 season.

That’s a lot of money to go to 5.6 percent of the players on the roster. To compare, the top three players on the Cowboys’ cap account for 17.5 percent of the cap. The top three with the Giants take up 29.7 percent and in Philadelphia, it’s 17.8 percent. In fact, a check around the league shows that none of the 2016 AFC or NFC playoff teams has a higher percentage of their cap expended on its top three than the Redskins have on theirs.

This caused some consternation among Redskins fans and while it’s something to keep an eye on it does not present a big issue for the team at this time.

It’s a temporary situation. Let’s say that the Redskins hang on to Cousins with a long-term deal and he has a $22 million cap number in 2018. If that the case then Cousins, Norman ($17 million), and Williams ($13.9 million) would still be the top three players on the cap number list and they would total $52 million.  On a cap that is projected to be $178 million that would be 29.2 percent of the total. That’s still on the high side but certainly manageable.

And if you are going to have three players taking up a high percentage of the cap they should be your quarterback, left tackle, and No. 1 cornerback. Those, along with an edge rusher, are the most important players on the team and it’s appropriate to have them among you highest-paid players.

Still, the Redskins must be careful. Signing another free agent with a cap hit like Norman’s is out of the question. And as key contributors like Trent Murphy, Jamison Crowder, and Brandon Scherff become eligible for contract extensions or for free agency over the next couple of years, the organization needs to be sure that there is room to retain their own players when the time comes.

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

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Clarifying the confusion about the Redskins' Week 16 game at the Titans

Clarifying the confusion about the Redskins' Week 16 game at the Titans

There was some confusion about the Redskins’ Week 16 game in Tennessee when the NFL schedule dropped. The schedule pushed out by the Redskins said that the game date and time are to be determined. Other versions that went out, including the one on NFL.com, says the game will be on Sunday, December 23 at 1 p.m.

So what’s the story? Well, if you’re thinking of making reservations to go to Nashville to watch the game you just might want to hold off for a while. Like, until early November. 

In an under the radar move, the NFL has established flex scheduling for its late-season Saturday games. Here are the details from the schedule press release from Redskins PR:

“Flexibility for Saturday games in Weeks 15 and 16 is also part of the 2018 schedule. In Week 15, there will be two games played on Saturday on NFL Network, with the game times of 4:30 p.m. and 8:20 p.m. to be determined. In Week 16, two of four possible matchups will be scheduled for Saturday. Start times and Saturday games for Week 15 and 16 will be announced no later than following Week 8, with the non-Saturday games to be played on Sunday.”

The way it sets up, if the Redskins and Titans are playing well in midseason there is a good chance the game will be played on Saturday, December 22 at either 4:30 or 8:20. If one or both teams are struggling, the league and networks could choose to flex two of the other four matchups to Saturday. 

This is taking flex scheduling to a different level. It’s one thing shifting a Sunday kickoff seven and a half hours from 1 p.m. to 8:30. It’s another to shift a whole day. The visiting teams can’t make travel arrangements, not knowing if they need to come into town on Friday for a Saturday game or on Saturday for Sunday. Fans who want to travel to the game are in the same boat. 

Of course, if you can afford it, you can just add a day to your Nashville excursion. There are worse things in the world than spending an extra day or two in Music City. 

If you have to wait to make your plans, as the Redskins do, you will find out no later than October 29, which is when Week 8 ends. 

Do you believe in trends? Then you should hope that the game does get flexed to Saturday. The Redskins have won three straight Saturday games, beating the Eagles in both 2014 and 2015 (the latter game clinching the division title for Washington) and the Bears in 2016. 

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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/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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Need to Know: Five pivotal games on the Redskins' schedule

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USA Today Sports Images

Need to Know: Five pivotal games on the Redskins' schedule

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, April 20, six days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

Five pivotal games on the Redskins’ schedule

All NFL games are important but some seem to be a little more important than others. At first glance at the Redskins’ schedule, these seem to be the five most pivotal games. 

Week 1 @Cardinals—Wait, Week 1 is pivotal? It is if you’re Jay Gruden and you are 0-4 in season openers. Starting off in an 0-1 hole again after losing a winnable game would not get things off to a positive start. 

Week 7 Cowboys—The only Redskins-Cowboys game that Kirk Cousins started in the last three years that Washington won was the 2015 season finale in Dallas, a game that was meaningless to both teams. Alex Smith needs to take advantage of his shot at the Cowboys. Beating Dallas is important for being competitive in the division and for job security in general. This is their shot at them at home.

Week 9 Falcons—Atlanta has been among the league’s big boys the last couple of years. The Redskins get them at home, on grass, when the weather could be turning a little bit chilly. It’s a good opportunity to upset a dome team. The game also ends the first part of the season and the Redskins face a second half of the schedule that has just three home games. 

Week 14 Giants—This is one of the aforementioned scarce home games in the latter part of the season. It’s preceded by road games in Dallas (9-7 last year) and Philadelphia (Super Bowl champs) and followed by roadies in Jacksonville (lost AFC title game) and Tennessee (won a playoff game). Nobody is quite sure to what extent the Giants will rebound from their dismal 2017 season but this game has the feel of a possible oasis surrounded by hostile deserts. 

Week 16 @Titans—If the Redskins are in playoff contention, this game will determine a lot even though its non-conference. As noted, the Titans are looking to improve on their playoff season last year and they will not be a pushover by any stretch. But if the Redskins want to be able to say that they are a better team than they have been the last couple of years, this is the kind of game they should win. 

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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Timeline  

Days until:

—OTAs start (5/22) 32
—Training camp starts (7/26) 97
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 142

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