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Redskins Buy Now, Pay Now?

Redskins Buy Now, Pay Now?

The Redskins made their first signing of the free agent period when they inked Baltimore Ravens' center Casey Rabach to a five-year contract.

The signing continued a couple of trends for the Redskins in free agency. First of all, they struck quickly, agreeing to terms with Rabach about two and a half hours in to the signing period. From ESPN.com: The team also got an early start on other team's free agents, reaching agreement with center Casey Rabach.

Rabach, an unrestricted free agent widely regarded as the top center in the veteran pool, agreed to a multi-year contract early Wednesday morning, only a few hours after the start of the 2005 signing period. It marked the third year in a row that Redskins owner Dan Snyder signed at least one player on the opening day of free agency.The other continued trend is that Rabach is 27 and entering the what should be the prime of his career. Most of the Redskins' recent free agent signings have been of players within a year or two of this age.

The trend that didn't continue, however, is the Redskins' strategy of putting their free agent spendin sprees on the equivalent of a high-interest credit card, spending for items now that they will have to pay dearly for later. While the reports of the Redskins facing the dreaded "cap hell" in 2006 and beyond are not entirely correct, they have nevertheless had a tendency to minimize the first-year cap hit in recent free agent contracts. They have done this by giving a large signing bonus, the cap impact of which is spread out over the life of the deal, and a minimal salary in the first year of the deal. This has allowed the team to add more free agent veterans than their cap room in a given year would seem to allow.

The Rabach signing, however, is different. It seems that the Redskins, at least in this particular deal, have decided to put a little more up front, make a larger down payment if you will, in order to minimize the cap hit of the contract in later years. From the same ESPN.com article:
Rabach's contract has a void for the fifth season and also includes a $2.5 million signing bonus and a $2 million roster, which will be guaranteed, according to ClaytonForget about the voidable fifth year, which is not unusual. What is different is the $2.5 million signing bonus and the $2 million guarantted roster bonus. That's essentially a $4.5 million signing bonus, which is what other media outlets reported. But there's a distinction here with a big difference.

A straight signing bonus of $4.5 million would be prorated over the life on the contract, meaning that it would cost the Redskins $900,000 against the cap for each of the next five seasons. By splitting the bonus into signing and roster they way they did, though, the Redskins will have to eat the $2 million roster bonus this year. But that will leave just $2.5 million, or $500,000 a year, to be prorated.

The exact details of the contract have yet to come out so these numbers are just reasonable estimates based on the assumption--a pretty safe one, I'm told--that the guaranteed roster bonus is in the first year of the deal. The cap experts I communicate with have said that it wouldn't make sense to do the deal any other way, and it explains the report of the $4.5 million signing bonus.

In short, the Redskins did the opposite of what they've been doing; they paid more against the cap now to save more later.

To be sure, this is just one contract and it does not mean that there's a new trend here. But it seems that the Redskins have utilized one more way to manipulate the cap to fit their particular needs.

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Need to Know: If Kirk Cousins leaves, with the Redskins rebuild or retool?

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Need to Know: If Kirk Cousins leaves, with the Redskins rebuild or retool?

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, January 16, 57 days before NFL free agency starts.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL franchise tag deadline (3/6) 49
—NFL Draft (4/26) 100
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 236

Nickel coverage—Five Redskins questions

Taking a look at some of the key questions surrounding the Redskins, sometimes coming up with more questions in the process. Yes, it's going to be that kind of offseason. 

What will the Redskins do at left guard? It would be better for the Redskins to find their left guard in the draft, but assuming that the successor is picked after the second round, they will want someone to start until the rookie is ready. That could be Arie Kouandjio or maybe a veteran free agent.

Can the Redskins make do with what they have at running back? The short answer is no. The running back situation needs attention. It’s hard to picture Samaje Perine and Rob Kelley forming a formidable tandem, or even a very good one. I’m wary of spending a high draft pick on an RB, but the success of the likes of Todd Gurley and Leonard Fournette have to be factored into the thinking.

Are the Redskins OK with Zach Brown and Mason Foster at inside linebacker? For the time being they are, assuming that they are able to sign both of the unrestricted free agents, however the Redskins need to continue to build that position. That means continuing to develop Josh Harvey-Clemons to use in nickel situations and spending draft resources there. Even if Brown and Foster are back, the Redskins might be smart to grab Roquan Smith out of Georgia if he’s there in the first round.

If they are without Kirk Cousins, will the Redskins rebuild or retool? This is a key question for the organization. If Cousins leaves, do they just try to plug in the best available/affordable quarterback they can find and roll on with the same basic personnel with which they have hovered around .500 the last three years? Or will the make other changes, perhaps moving on from Josh Norman and Jordan Reed to save cap money for future seasons and give their younger players a chance to establish themselves? The latter might be the better way to go but this organization rarely considers short-term pain for long-term gain.

If Junior Galette leaves, who replaces him? While Galette did not light it up in the sack department, he put plenty of pressure on opposing quarterbacks. He is likely to leave since he would remain behind Preston Smith and Ryan Kerrigan on the depth chart if he re-signed in Washington. Can they rely on 2017 second-round pick Ryan Anderson to take a giant leap in his sophomore season? Will they try to lock up free agent Trent Murphy and hope that he can bounce back from an ACL injury he suffered last August and regain his nine-sack form of 2016? I don’t see how they can rely on Anderson to suddenly provide pressure after recording zero sacks this past year. Whether it’s Murphy or another free agent, someone with a better track record has to be in the picture. If Anderson improves enough to move ahead of that player on the depth chart, so much the better.

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.

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Where does Stefon Diggs' remarkable catch rank among some of the best NFL playoff walk-offs?

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Where does Stefon Diggs' remarkable catch rank among some of the best NFL playoff walk-offs?

There is nothing quite like January playoff football and Sunday night's Vikings vs. Saints game further proved this point.

In case you have been off the grid the past 12 hours, the Minnesota Vikings literally got a last second win against the New Orleans Saints.

With 10 seconds left in the fourth and facing a 3rd and 10, quarterback Case Keenum heaved the football near the sideline to wide receiver Stefon Diggs, who dodged two defenders while managing to stay inbounds for a 61-yard touchdown as the clock expired. 

It was one of the most remarkable playoff walk-off wins, if not the most remarkable one, in football.

So, where does it stand among the others?

RELATED: FORMER TERP PLAYS HERO IN VIKINGS' MIRACLE PLAYOFF WIN

Broncos vs. Steelers 2011 AFC Wild Card game: Remember Tim Tebow's 80-yard overtime touchdown to Demaryius Thomas during the 2011 Broncos vs. Steelers AFC Wild Card game? It was the first and last snap of overtime and it was wild.

Mile High Miracle: On third and three with 43 seconds left in the game, Ravens' Joe Flacco launched one towards wide receiver Jacoby Jones, who got in front of the Broncos receiver and ran the ball in for a 70-yard game-tying touchdown. The Ravens would eventually go on to win the game in double overtime. Some could argue it was the defining moment in the Ravens' Super Bowl run. 

Cardinals vs. Steelers Super Bowl XLIII: Under the brightest lights of all, Ben Roethlisberger found Santonio Holmes with 43 seconds in the fourth in the back of the end zone for a toe-dragging, Super Bowl-winning catch. 

RELATED: WHAT REDSKINS CAN LEARN FROM THIS WEEKEND'S PLAYOFF GAMES

Saints vs. 49ers 2012 NFC Divisional game: Sunday's loss wasn't the first time the Saints have experienced a fourth quarter letdown. Back in 2012, Alex Smith threw one to the endzone on 3rd-and-three with 14 seconds left that sealed a win.

While these are only a few, we can't wait to add more to the list in years to come.