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Need to Know: Redskins are in good cap shape in 2017

Need to Know: Redskins are in good cap shape in 2017

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, June 3, 55 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 145 days ago. It will be 101 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Redskins training camp starts 55; Preseason opener @ Falcons 69; Final roster cut to 53, 92

I’m enjoying a vacation week in the Outer Banks. While I’m gone I’m presenting a few of the most popular posts from earlier this offseason (Note: A few details may not be updated) as well as some posts looking back at some of the team’s best performances. Thanks for reading, see you again on Monday, June 6.

This article was originally published on May 6.

Even after the Redskins signed Josh Norman and Jordan Reed to substantial contracts, the team still has more than adequate salary cap space in 2017 to sign its other pending free agent, including quarterback Kirk Cousins.

According to www.Overthecap.com after Norman’s extension hit the books and after accounting for Chris Culliver’s release the Redskins had $117.2 million in salary cap dollars committed for 2017.

That does not count them signing their seven draft picks, which will add around $5 million to their 2017 committed money. But there also are some players counting against the cap who are unlikely to be there. It’s probably a pretty safe bet that you can subtract the salaries of Andre Roberts ($4 million), Shawn Lauvao ($4 million), and Kory Lichtensteiger ($3.5 million).

Adding in for the draft picks and subtracting for the veterans, that nets out to the Redskins having $110.7 million in salary cap commitments.

We don’t yet have the details of Reed’s contract so we don’t know how much he will cost against the 2017 cap [Update: Reed will count $5.8 million next year]. It’s a five-year, $50 million extension that actually starts in 2017. Usually the first year of such a deal has a lower cap number and then it grows as the years go on and the cap grows. For example, Norman’s deal averages $15 million per year and the first-year cap hit was only $8 million.

But let’s round up and figure that the 2017 cap hit will be what the average annual value of the contract is, $10 million. It might be a little higher but you’ll see in a moment that a few million dollars is not all that significant. That pushes the 2017 commitment up to $120.7 million.

The NFL salary cap this year is $155.27 million. It’s a very safe bet that the cap will increase in 2017. The increase from 2014 to 2015 was 8.3 percent. If it goes up by the same year-to-year percentage the 2017 cap will be $168 million. It may be a few million more or less but that’s in the ballpark.

Subtracting the $120.7 million that the Redskins are likely to have committed from the $168 million cap, that leaves the Redskins with about $47.3 million in sap space for 2017.

That will be more than adequate space to pay Cousins and others who might be in line for new contracts. The key will be having a salary cap structure similar to those of other successful teams. Besides Norman, if the three veterans mentioned above are released the two highest-priced contracts signed by free agents will be Stephen Paea ($5.8 million cap number) and Ricky Jean Francois ($4 million). And Paea won’t be around for that number if his play doesn’t rise to that level.

As long as Scot McCloughan continues to have productive drafts the Redskins can limit free agent signings to a supplemental way of acquiring talent, not the primary method. The organization will be able to pick and choose the players they want to keep and have a structure with some home-grown talent with large second contracts and perhaps a Norman-like free agent at the top, some moderate deals like the ones that Morgan Moses and Bashaud Breeland are likely to get forming an upper middle class, other role players who are on second contracts and then the more recent draft picks working on their inexpensive rookie deals.

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Kirk Cousins breaks down the terribleness of FedEx Field grass

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Kirk Cousins breaks down the terribleness of FedEx Field grass

For years, the Redskins struggle with their home field as the fall turns to winter. It's been happening so long it's become an expected passing of the seasons, like the transition from Halloween jack-o-lanterns to Christmas lights dotting people's front yards. 

Well, on Thanksgiving night, the turf at FedEx Field again showed how bad it can be. On a second half interception returned for a New York Giants touchdown, replay showed that Kirk Cousins' foot got stuck on the dirt, and it played a role in his sailing a ball to the sideline. The bad turf was not the only reason for the interception, but it was definitely a reason. 

Beyond the pick, the field was just ugly. Twitter blew up making fun of the Redskins home grass, and the national broadcast showed just how unsightly the long brown patch between the hash marks looked. 

On Friday, the normally diplomatic Cousins opened up about the grass.

"It probably doesn't look like a professional NFL field should," the quarterback said on 106.7 the Fan (full audio here). "If you think the field is rough now on Thanksgiving, we've got two more home games in mid-to-late December. That's probably going to be a bigger challenge."

Asked about the field's impact on the interception on Thursday night, Cousins ignored it. But plenty of other players have suggested the field is a known problem in the second half, and something they just must deal with. 

"I don't know why it is that way or what causes it," Cousins said. "I've kind of learned to accept it and understand it's part of the deal. Playing here on the field has never been that great in the second half of the season for whatever the reason."

[h/t @BenStandig for the Cousins quotes]

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When Samaje Perine got going, so did the Redskins' offense

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Bob Youngentob for NBC Sports Washington

When Samaje Perine got going, so did the Redskins' offense

At halftime of the Redskins’ Thanksgiving night game against the Giants, Samaje Perine had three yards rushing and his team had three points. Washington had racked up all of 113 yards.

Coincidence? Not entirely. Although the Redskins are primarily a passing team they need to run the ball to pass effectively.

“We had to get the running game going,” said Jay Gruden after the game.

In the second half, Perine and the offense did get it going. Perine ran for 97 yards and Redskins put up 210 yards and 17 points. It’s safe to say that it wasn’t a coincidence.

The Redskins didn’t make any halftime adjustments to get the ground game in gear.

“We just had to stay the course,” said Perine. “We knew they were going to come out fired up, they just came off a big win. We just had to stay the course and then things started going our way.”

MORE REDSKINS: MUST-SEE PHOTOS OF THE WIN

Perine was more steady than spectacular. His longest run was 16 yards. He came out of the locker room and ran for six and 10 yards on his first two carries. Later in the third quarter the Redskins were backed up at their own 10. Perine ran four straight plays for 39 yards and the Redskins were near midfield.

Although they didn’t score on that drive they did change field position. That was part of the Redskins’ strategy playing with an injury-depleted offense.

“If you had to punt in a game like this and play field position, it’s not the end of the world because our defense was playing so good,” said Gruden.

Not only did the running game flip the field, it flipped the time of possession. In the first half, the Giants had the ball for 17:40 compared to 12:20 for the Redskins.

“We had to get on the field and control some of the clock,” said tackle Morgan Moses. “We had to give our defense a rest. Samaje put his foot in the ground and got extra yards when needed and we were able to move the chains.”

Moses wasn’t the only one enjoying seeing Perine pile up some yards.

“As a defensive player, you want to see that,” said safety D.J. Swearinger. “We say, keep running it. Keep running him. Let him keep getting those carries, put a dent in the defense. It was a good sight to see.”

RELATED: FIVE KEY MOMENTS IN RESKINS VS GIANTS

Swearinger got to watch a lot of Perine. The Redskins piled up 22:17 in possession in the second half, while Swearinger and his defensive mates had to defend for just 7:43.

Last night was the second time in four days that Perine has rushed for 100 yards or more; he had 117 in New Orleans on Sunday. No Redskin has rushed for 100 yards in consecutive games since Alfred Morris did it in November of 2013.

He will have a chance to extend that streak to three on Thursday against the Cowboys, who are ranked 17th in rushing defense. That would put him in some elite company in Redskins history, including Larry Brown (twice) and Stephen Davis.  A steak of three straight 100-yard games was last done by Morris in 2012.

It may be a little early to look forward, but the Redskins record is five straight 100-yard games, held by Clinton Portis (twice) and Ladell Betts.  

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.