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Need to Know: How can the Redskins create more cap room?

Need to Know: How can the Redskins create more cap room?

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, February 26, 12 days before the start of NFL free agency.

How much cap space can the Redskins realistically create?

If the NFL salary cap is set at its current estimate of $155 million, the Redskins will have about $13.6 million in cap room. If we calculate in two transactions we know are going to happen—Robert Griffin III getting released, saving $16.1 million, and Kirk Cousins getting hit with the franchise tag, costing $19.6 million—Washington will go forward with $10.1 million.

With some free agents of their own to sign and some needs that can only be met in free agency, the Redskins will need to create some additional cap room. Here are some ways they could go about doing that (cap numbers via Over the Cap).

Cut Andre Roberts, savings $3 million—This signing was doomed almost from the start. About a month after Roberts signed, DeSean Jackson became available and Roberts was pushed back from No. 2 receiver to No. 3. But even when given opportunities he didn’t get the job done. He was a healthy scratch at times in 2015 and ended the year on injured reserve.

Renegotiate or release S Dashon Goldson, savings $4-$8 million—He has a $7.5 million salary and a $500,000 workout bonus. That makes him the fifth highest paid safety in 2016, a status his play clearly does not warrant. Negotiating a pay reduction to $4 million would reduce his pay to around 20th in the NFL, more suitable for a player who will be 32 in Week 2 of next season and whose play has declined from the All-Pro level that earned him the contract. If the Redskins choose to release him, there would be no dead salary cap.

Renegotiate or release DE Jason Hatcher, savings $3-$4.2 million—He has hinted at retirement, although Jay Gruden said yesterday that he might want to play another season. If he retires or is released it would save $4.2 million against the cap. They could work to reduce his $6.5 million salary and workout bonus, too. Hatcher was a good leader and he played better than his numbers indicated but he is still not worth the salary.

Release Kory Lichtensteiger, savings $2.9 million—The Redskins could look for an upgrade at center either in free agency or in the draft. Lichtensteiger was injured for most of last year and struggled at times when healthy. They could look for someone who is more suited to their power-blocking scheme than Lichtensteiger, who turns 31 next month. An alternative would be to release Shawn Lauvao, a move that would save $3 million. But he is currently injured so that may have to wait.

Release ILB Perry Riley, savings $4 million—If the team can retain Mason Foster they might let Riley go. He has been up and down since taking over the starting job midway through the 2011 season. If the Redskins don’t think that he can start it’s hard to see them paying a $4 million salary for a backup.

Those moves would create between $16.9 and $22.1 million in cap space, giving Washington anywhere from $27 million to $32.2 million in cap space after the anticipated quarterback moves.

Some other minor moves could be made but there aren’t any more potential big money-saving moves that haven’t been ruled out either directly by Jay Gruden and/or Scot McCloughan or via reliable reports. Players who have been subjects of media and/or fan speculation such as Pierre Garçon, DeSean Jackson, Chris Culliver, and DeAngelo Hall all appear to be very much in the team’s plans for 2016.

There could be a surprise down the line but as of right now it looks like the Redskins have enough cap room to take care of some basic needs but not much more.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 47 days ago. It will be about 198 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL free agency starts 12; Redskins offseason workouts start 52; 2016 NFL draft 63

In case you missed it

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No tension between Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins, but the coach wants improvement 

No tension between Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins, but the coach wants improvement 

MOBILE -- Jay Gruden is making jokes about Kirk Cousins again, and that's good news for Redskins fans that worried about a fracture between coach and quarterback. 

It all started in the weeks following the Redskins dreadful Week 17 loss to the Giants as Gruden and Cousins seemed to be throwing slight jabs at one another.

Gruden, in his end of year press conference, explained that while Cousins "showed flashes" in 2017, when the team goes 7-9, the coach can't say any player was outstanding: 

You know when you’re 7-9, you know it’s hard to say, ‘Wow, this guy really was outstanding.’ You know there’s a few guys obviously that jump out, Pro Bowlers like Ryan Kerrigan had a solid year. Obviously Trent when he played was Pro Bowl type, Brandon when he was healthy was 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. He did some great things, threw for over 4,000 yards and 29 touchdowns I believe. So, I think he’s a very, very good quarterback without a doubt, but as far as getting us over the hump from 7-9 to winning a division with all the injuries that we had, I think he competed and did some good things.

Cousins, in his year-end radio appearance with 106.7 the Fan, explained that he wants the team to do better but doesn't think the 7-9 record should fall on his shoulders alone. (Quote via Washington Post)

What I gathered from the comment was 7-9 and the quarterback play are causally related and that quarterback play is 7-9, 7-9 is the quarterback play. I saw that and I thought, ‘I think it’s slightly more complicated than that.’ I think there’s a few more dynamics in play as to what your final record is. … At the same time, his job is to evaluate. That’s a big part of his role and his position. In that comment, he’s just doing his job, he’s evaluating the position and he has the right to say what he wants to say.

Both comments were fairly innocuous, but also clearly at odds. Combine that dialogue with the undercurrent of another offseason contract negotiation, and it seemed things between coach and quarterback weren't quite right. 

On Tuesday, speaking at the Senior Bowl, Gruden cleared the air. Asked directly about tension between he and Cousins, the coach was blunt. 

"No." 

Gruden went on to explain his answer about Cousins 2017 play, the now infamous 7-9 line.

"When I say 7-9, if I say one player played great that means I'm saying everybody else was not very good," the coach explained (full video above). "I think we all have to stick together, we all have to improve from a 7-9 season, coaches, players, everybody."

Cousins was good in 2017, throwing for more than 4,000 passing yards for the third straight season. He also showed that he can produce offensively without a great supporting cast, as injuries robbed the Redskins of many of their best passing game threats and seriously damaged the offensive line. 

The quarterback did play two terrible games in the last month of the season, however, including a three interception stinker in the Week 17 finale.

It's possible that Gruden had that fresh in his mind when he spoke in early January, and with the benefit of a little time, his assessment mellowed by late January. 

Either way, Gruden joked about Cousins deserving a vacation, and even said the QB needs a tan. Gruden often uses humor to defuse touchy situations with Redskins players, and maybe he just did it again. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Redskins have begun contract talks with Zach Brown, but free agency looms

Redskins have begun contract talks with Zach Brown, but free agency looms

Redskins fans want Zach Brown back. Bad. And for weeks there had been no news about contract talks between Washington and Brown. 

Now that's changed.

"We've been talking to his agent," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said on Tuesday. 

Gruden, speaking from the Senior Bowl, explained that the team would like Brown back in 2018 but Washington also understands that the linebacker might want to explore the free agent market. 

"It’s a process," Gruden said (full video above). "These guys have a chance to be a free agent, they had a good year and they want to check what the market is sometimes. If we can get them before they get to free agency, great, but if not, the bidding wars will begin."

For Brown, free agency will look different in 2018 than it did last season when he signed a one-year. bargain deal with the Redskins. 

Prior to injuries forcing him to miss the final three games of the season, Brown led the NFL in tackles. For two straight years, 2016 in Buffalo and 2017 in Washington, Brown has proved to be a tackling machine and arguably the fastest linebacker in the NFL. Brown also signed new representation last offseason, Jason and Michael Katz of CSE Football, and should Brown hit the free agent market the Katz brothers will aggresively market their client. 

Washington Senior Vice President of Football Operations Eric Schaeffer will handle the contract discussions for Washington, and is known as a shrewd negotiator. 

Like many business deals, this will come down to money. Brown established himself as a fit in Washington, both on the field and in the locker room. Interior linebackers do not command top dollar like pass rushers do, but Brown will still expect to be compensated appropriately. 

Further complicating matters for Washington, the Redskins only have Josh Harvery-Clemmons, Zach Vigil and Martrell Speight under contract for 2018. 

It's too early to predict what "it's a process" means from Jay Gruden, but Redskins fans should draw some encouragement that talks have begun with Brown. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!