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


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


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.


—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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Redskins bring in another defensive lineman for free agency visit, per source


Redskins bring in another defensive lineman for free agency visit, per source

The Redskins hosted Sylvester Williams for a free agency visit on Tuesday morning, per a source with knowledge of the situation. 

Williams played in 2017 with the Titans, logging 20 tackles in 11 starts. Tennessee released Williams this offseason, just one year into a three-year, $16 million deal. 

Drafted in the first round by the Broncos in 2013, the 6-foot-3, 313 lbs. Williams' stat line has never really popped. That isn't uncommon for a nose tackle though, as the job is less about tackles than it is holding leverage against the interior of an offensive line. 


Should the Redskins sign 29-year-old Williams, it would represent the first true nose tackle free agency addition since Terrance "Pot Roast" Knighton joined the team in 2015 from Denver. In an ironic twist, Williams took over at nose in Denver when Knighton left for Washington, and posted his best season as a Bronco. 

Washington restructured its deal with Terrell McClain, reported first by ESPN, which could allow more flexibility to add another defensive lineman. That could come in the draft, but the club has been very active talking with free agents to play on the defensive front. 

On Monday, Johnathan Hankins and Pernell McPhee visited with Redskins officials in Ashburn. Hankins would carry the heaviest price tag, but his past performance would also indicate the most promise. 

McPhee is an edge rusher with enough bulk to play against the run as well. Williams compares more with Hankins, and could be seen as the secondary option.

Among 79 nose tackles Pro Football Focus graded, Williams ranked 36th. For comparison, Bengals star Geno Atkins ranked No. 1, Dontari Poe ranked 26th, former Redskin Chris Baker ranked 65th and current Redskin Ziggy Hood ranked 79th. 

It's also worth noting that since the Titans released Williams, should the Redskins sign the nose tackle, his contract would not count towards the NFL compensatory pick formula. 

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Redskins make a D-line contract change, gain roster flexibility

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Redskins make a D-line contract change, gain roster flexibility

One head-scratcher from over the weekend was the Redskins’ apparent decision to hold on to defensive end Terrell McClain despite the fact that his 2018 base salary of $3.25 million would become fully guaranteed as of 4 p.m. on Sunday.

McClain missed four games with a toe injury last year and when he was playing he was not one of the top performers on the line. Perhaps he will improve in his second year in the defense but his performance certainly didn’t warrant a fully guaranteed salary.

Sunday came and went, and McClain was still on the roster. However, there was a change regarding the eight-year veteran. According to John Keim of ESPN, the Redskins and the player agreed to remove the full guarantee of the 2018 salary and change it to an injury-only guarantee.


The change will help alleviate what could be a numbers crunch down the road. The Redskins normally carry six defensive linemen. They have four keepers in Jonathan Allen, Matt Ioannidis, Stacy McGee, and Anthony Lanier. They have been trying to sign a free agent D-lineman like Johnathan Hankins and if they fail to do that they are likely to take one early in the draft. That would mean that five of the roster spots are spoken for.

If McClain had the guaranteed salary that might lock him into that sixth spot, leaving Ziggy Hood, a favorite of the coaching staff, on the outside looking in. The removal of the full salary guarantee levels the playing field between McClain, Hood and another possible free agent or draft pick when it comes to competing for that last roster spot.

If McClain loses out in the battle for a roster spot in training camp releasing him would save about $3.4 million in 2018 cap space. However, there would be a dead cap charge of $2.5 million in 2019. If his salary had remained fully guaranteed his departure would have caused a net cap charge of about $2 million.


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