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Need to Know: How much cap space do the Redskins need to sign their draft picks?

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Need to Know: How much cap space do the Redskins need to sign their draft picks?

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, March 17, 44 days before the Washington Redskins go on the clock at the NFL draft.

Question of the day

A few days a week I’ll give an in-depth answer to a question submitted by a fan on my Twitter feed, via the Real Redskins Facebook page, or in the comments section here. On Twitter address the questions to me at @Rich_TandlerCSN with the #NTK hashtag. There will be a comment thread set up on the Facebook page and if you’re asking your question here, put “for NTK” at the start of the comment.

Today’s question is from the Real Redskins Facebook page:

As we discussed here yesterday, the Redskins had $11.73 million in salary cap space. That was before they signed safety Jeron Johnson. We don’t have the details on that deal yet (reported to the for two years and $4 million) so we don’t know what the 2015 cap hit will be. But we can estimate they have about $10.5 million left and be close enough for our purposes here.

The Redskins will need a chunk of that money to pay their draft picks. As of now, they have seven picks, their own selection in each round. Thanks to the rookie slotting system that came into effect with the current CBA in 2011, the 2015 cap hit for each those draft picks can be determined now.

Washington has the fifth overall pick in the draft. That player, regardless of what position he plays or what he may have accomplished in college, will get a contract with a 2015 salary cap hit of $3.41 million per Over the Cap. Here are the hits for the Redskins other picks, rounded to the nearest $1,000.

Round-Cap hit

2-$970,000
3-$606,000
4-$554,000
5-$487,000
6-$464,000
7-$451,000

The total cap hits for rounds one through seven comes to $6.943 million. At first glance, if you subtract that from the $10.5 million they currently have it looks like the Redskins are getting very low on cash to spend.

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 $143.28 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, Phillip Thomas, who has a cap hit of $510,000, will drop out of the top 51, so you subtract his money from the cap. So that $3.41 million deal counts a net of just $2.9 million.

It happens that the Redskins have a bunch of players with cap hits of $510,000, which is the third-year minimum salary, so when you knock Thomas off of the list of 51, he’s replaced in 51st place by another player making the same amount. So when you sign picks from rounds two, three, and four, you add their cap hits but you take off someone making $510,000 when you do. In all, picks 1-4 have total cap hits of $5.54 million. But with the Rule of 51 the net effect is a subtraction of $3.5 million from available cap space.

And since the picks in rounds five, six, and seven make less than $510,000 they don’t even count against the cap for the time being. So you wind up with a net cap hit of $3.5 million for the draft class of 2015.

As Keith noted in his questions, this could change with a draft trade but trades of picks for picks in the same draft don’t usually have a major effect on the cap consequences. The Redskins can figure on accounting for about $3.5 million in cap space for the draft regardless of how much wheeling and dealing Scot McCloughan may do.

Timeline

—It’s been 79 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 180 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 34; 2015 NFL Draft 44; Redskins training camp starts 135

If you have any questions about what's going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I'm always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Da'Ron Payne's first reaction after being drafted No. 13 by the Redskins

Da'Ron Payne's first reaction after being drafted No. 13 by the Redskins

Many top draft choices chose to head to the NFL Draft, hear their name be called, and get the pomp and circumstance that comes with all that is the NFL Draft. 

The Washington Reskins' No. 13 pick Da'Ron Payne was not one of those prospects. 

Instead Payne watched the draft surronded by close friends and family.

The reaction was memorable: 

Some draft picks choose not to  come for fear of slidding down draft boards, or worse not being picked in the First Round. 

So he doesn't get to meet Roger Goodell. He doesn't get a Redskins' jersey on draft night.

But this video wouldn't exist if the defensive tackle from Alabama chose to go to Dallas, Texas on draft night. 

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The Redskins fill a need with Da'Ron Payne as their first-round pick

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USA Today Sports Images

The Redskins fill a need with Da'Ron Payne as their first-round pick

The Redskins went into the draft with everyone talking about their need to upgrade their defensive line. And despite the presence of two other intriguing defenders on the board, they went with the big guy. 

Da’Ron Payne, a defensive lineman from Alabama, was the name that Roger Goodell read off of the card when the Redskins’ turn came up with the 13thoverall pick in the draft. 

Here is our analysis of Payne from an earlier NBC Sports Washington post about him:

Stuff the run in the middle of the line? Check. Get outside to stop stretch plays? Check. Get after the passer? Check. Yes, Alabama defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne checks all the boxes the Redskins are looking for on the D-line.

He can be the immovable object, taking on double and triple teams, and he also can chase down the quarterback. At 311 pounds he could be the Redskins’ nose tackle in base and move outside in nickel.

At 6-2, 311, the Redskins likely will use Payne in the middle of the line as their nose tackle in their base defense. Defensive line coach Jim Tomsula will work with him to improve his pass rushing ability. 

Payne has been talked of as the Redskins pick since early in the draft process. As the draft unfolded, it turned out that there were two defenders, safety Derwin James and linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, who most analysts had rated considerably above Payne, still on the board. As it turns out, the Redskins apparently made the need pick and went with Payne. 

The Redskins draft an Alabama defensive lineman for the second straight year. Last year they took Crimson Tide defensive tackle Jonathan Allen with the 17th pick in the draft. 

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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.