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Redskins 2015 salary cap outlook: Defensive line

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Redskins 2015 salary cap outlook: Defensive line

As Jay Gruden and company finalize the coaching staff in another part of the building at Redskins Park are looking forward to free agency and how best to utilize the approximately $20 million in cap space the Redskins have. Here we’ll take a position-by-position look at the cap situation and explore some of the Redskins’ options. Previously we looked at the interior offensive line and offensive tackle, tight ends, running backs, quarterbacks, and wide receivers.

Up today, the defensive line

The Redskins currently have six defensive linemen under contract.

 

Notes:

—Due to contract restructures in 2013, both Bowen and Cofield have contracts that carry a lot of dead money. Bowen’s carries $2.5 million, Cofield’s $3.6 million. Bowen carries the fourth-highest cap hit on the team; Cofield’s is fifth.

—Last year Bowen reduced his salary to $1.6 million, saving the Redskins about $3 million in cap space.

—Cofield’s contract runs through 2016.

[RELATED: Redskins 2015 position outlooks: Defensive line]

—Hatcher has three years left on the four-year deal he signed in 2014. His salaries shoot up to $6.5 million next year and $7.5 million in 2017.

—Baker is in the second year of a three-year deal. He is eligible for up to $1 million in bonuses but they are considered unlikely to be earned and so they don’t count against the salary cap.

—Kearse was one of the better bargains on the team; in a part-time role for a minimum salary, he had 3 sacks (tied for third on the team) and 12 tackles.

—End Jarvis Jenkins, who started 14 games in 2014, and nose tackle Chris Nield, who missed the season on inured reserve, are unrestricted free agents.

—The Redskins' spending on the defensive line is 11th in the NFL. That's high considering their base defense only uses three defensive linemen.

Adding and subtracting

As noted above, both Bowen and Cofield have very high cap numbers, especially considering that neither contributed much in 2014. Bowen misses the first six games of the season on the PUP list after undergoing knee microfracture surgery in 2013. He also was healthy but inactive for two games.

It’s difficult to see the Redskins paying Bowen, who will be 31 before OTAs start, the $5.5 million in salary and workout bonuses his contract calls for. It seems likely that he will either agree to take a pay cut as he did last year or face getting released.

Cofield could face the same situation. Tarik El-Bashir and I will look at his future in depth later this afternoon on CSNwashington.com.

It will be interesting to see if Hatcher, who was a disappointment with only 5.5 sacks after getting a four-year deal with $10.5 million guaranteed, is still on the team. The finances say that with a $3 million salary and a $1.5 million net cap charge to let him go it makes sense to keep him. But will Scot McCloughan feel obligated to keep around a mistake made by his predecessor? Odds are Hatcher stays but it’s not a sure thing. If he ends up getting cut that will be a sign that this is going to be a major, major housecleaning in Ashburn.

Cap information from OverTheCap.com and other sources.

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was-Cousins' value, the Redskins' top pick

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was-Cousins' value, the Redskins' top pick

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, January 20, 53 days before NFL free agency starts.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL franchise tag deadline (3/6) 45
—NFL Draft (4/26) 96
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 232

The Redskins week that was

Jags big win could spell bad news for Kirk Cousins—If the Jaguars’ accomplishment of getting to the AFC championship game does indeed make Blake Bortles’ job safe, the laws of economics say that the amount of money that Cousins can command in a free agent contract should go down. It’s the demand part of supply and demand and if demand goes down, prices should, too. But the NFL quarterback market doesn’t follow the laws. If the Lions see fit to pay Matthew Stafford, a quarterback under whom they have had very limited success, a contract with an average annual value of $27 million without any team bidding against them, that sets the price.

Setting the odds on what happens with Kirk Cousins—Despite his happy talk at the 106.7 The Fan event earlier this month, the possibility that Cousins will play in a Redskins uniform in 2018 does not warrant a large bet of imaginary casino chips. If you missed the post, take a look and let me know what you think of my assessment.

Don't freak out about latest Zach Brown tweet—It’s that time of year. A player sends out a tweet with no context and fans assign the worst possible meaning to it. In Brown’s case, a tweet about not getting respect was interpreted as a sign that contract negotiations with the Redskins were not going well. But JP Finlay found out that the tweet was about Brown being upset that another alternate getting selected to the Pro Bowl and not him. It still is unclear if Brown will return to the Redskins but at least there are no indications of rocky negotiations at this point.

Bang for the free agent bucks for the Redskins? Brown was a solid free agent acquisition for the Redskins last year. Terrelle Pryor, not so much. Take a look at the post for the other hits and misses in free agency.

Tweet of the week

Even though the draft is over three months away there are plenty of opinions out there as this tweet drew a ton of reaction. On the offensive side of the ball, the suggestions ran towards quarterbacks Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield although some want a running back. It will be interesting to see how those two non-conventional quarterbacks look after they spend the next few months under the microscope of the NFL draft process. The defensive name that kept coming up was Washington defensive lineman Vita Vea, a large specimen who could play the nose in base defense and move to three-technique in nickel.

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.

In case you missed it

 

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Scot McCloughan simply said what plenty of others think about Kirk Cousins

Scot McCloughan simply said what plenty of others think about Kirk Cousins

Redskins fans were frenzied when Scot McCloughan said that Kirk Cousins is a good quarterback, but not a special one. The #KirkHive shuddered and the Kirk Haters celebrated.

McCloughan, the former Redskins GM who's wildly popular with fans, explained what few people will say publicly: Cousins is a skilled player but probably not deserving of the money he might make in free agency. 

Let's start with the obvious: Cousins is good.

He's a durable passer in a league that doesn't have enough of them. He's started the last 49 games for the Redskins and thrown for more than 4,000 yards each of the past three seasons. 

Now more obvious: He isn't great.

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Bleacher Report's Chris Simms, speaking on the #RedskinsTalk podcast, said Cousins ranks about 12th among NFL passers. It's top half of the league, but it's not Top 5 or even Top 10. 

Cousins has had tremendous games with the Redskins, like a near perfect performance against Oakland in 2017 or a dominant performance against Green Bay in 2016. 

Cousins has also been awful, as recently as Week 17 in New York a few weeks ago, or an equally stinky Week 17 game against the Giants two seasons ago. 

While some might view McCloughan's statement as controversial — "He’s a good player. Is he special? I don’t see special," he told Denver radio station 104.3 the Fan — it's not. 

Plenty of people agree with McCloughan, including some in Redskins Park. Last year, a source told NBC Sports Washington that the team believed they could get nearly as much production from Colt McCoy as Cousins provided. 

Even this year, Washington head coach Jay Gruden offered lukewarm praise of his quarterback.

When the season ended, asked to evaluate Cousins' play, the coach said, "When you’re 7-9, it’s hard to say, ‘Wow, this guy really was outstanding.’ There’s a few guys obviously that jump out, Pro Bowlers like Ryan Kerrigan had a solid year. Obviously Trent [Williams] when he played was a Pro Bowl-type and Brandon [Scherff] when he was healthy was a 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."

That quote made headlines when Gruden said it, much like McCloughan's comments now are circulating faster than Beltway traffic. 

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Truth is, it's not new. And it's not news.

There are coaches that think Cousins is only scratching the surface of his capabilities. Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay come to mind, but both of those coaches have other QBs likely for the long-term future. 

Cousins might end up being paid like a Top 3 quarterback in the NFL, and that might be the right move given the demand at the position. Will that make him a special passer?

Not if special is defined as Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees. Even Cousins wouldn't argue with that.