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Need to Know: Will Culliver remain on the Redskins' roster this year?

Need to Know: Will Culliver remain on the Redskins' roster this year?

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, February 18, 6 days before the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

Should Culliver return?

Let’s take a quick look back at the Culliver story before answering it. Last year the Redskins signed Culliver, who will be 28 in August, to a four-year contract worth $32 million. When it was signed it had $16 million fully guaranteed; part of that was his $8 million salary for 2016.

When he was healthy he played pretty well but health was a major issue. He missed three games due to an inflamed knee. Culliver was rounding back into form but at practice on Thanksgiving Day he suffered a torn ACL and MCL and his season was over.

For their investment the Redskins got six games, no interceptions and one pass defensed.

Culliver's 2016 cap hit will be $9.25 million. That $8 million base salary will be the highest on the team after Robert Griffin III is released.

Culliver did miss one other game and as it turns out it plays a big role in deciding about his future. He was suspended in Week 2 for a violation of the NFL’s personal conduct policy that occurred when he was with the 49ers. According to the terms of his contract the suspension voided any future guarantees in his contract. So his 2016 salary is no longer guaranteed, putting the option of moving on from him from the realm of being financially irresponsible to being possible.

If Culliver’s salary was still guaranteed, cutting him would have created a net cap hit of $9.25 million. As it is now, cutting him saves a net of $5.5 million.

But the fact that the money will work if he gets cut doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea to let him go. Right now the cornerback depth chart consists of Culliver, Bashaud Breeland and some second-year players. Some of them, like Quinton Dunbar, could be pretty good. But it would be scary to go into the season with just Breeland, who is just in his third year, Dunbar, and the other inexperienced players.

And that is said realizing that Culliver may not be able to go at the start of the season. The season opener will be about nine and a half months after his injury so we’ll just have to see how things progress. But even if they have to rely on Dunbar for a few weeks that’s better than relying on him for 16 games.

I think that Culliver stays this year and McCloughan will find a cornerback in the draft. If the drafted CB shows promise they may well decide they can do without Culliver and the $8 million per year he has remaining on the last two years of his deal.


—The Redskins last played a game 39 days ago. It will be about 206 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL Combine 6; NFL free agency starts 20; 2016 NFL draft 70

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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.