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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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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.