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Redskins go into 2017 with ample salary cap space

Redskins go into 2017 with ample salary cap space

The Redskins have several key free agents to deal with and a lot of holes to fill on both sides of the ball, particularly on defense. The good news is that they will have a substantial amount of salary cap space available to manage the situation.

How much will they have? Let’s walk through the numbers.

The Redskins currently have $113 million in 2017 cap expenditures for players under contract (cap data via www.OvertheCap.com). Add in $6.9 million in dead cap money for unaccounted for bonuses paid to Stephen Paea ($2.5 million), Chris Culliver ($2.5 million), and David Bruton ($1.7 million) and the Redskins are spending just about $120 million in 2017.

That’s the expense side of the ledger. On the available money side, the NFL salary cap for 2017 currently is estimated to be $168 million. That number could be lower, although that is unlikely. In fact, history tells us that the cap number usually ends up higher than the early estimates. But we’ll use the $168 million number for now.

RELATED: How will the Garçon-Jackson saga play out?

Before we arrive at their cap space, there is one more calculation to make. The Redskins had $15 million in cap space that they did not use in 2016. Since the 2011 CBA, teams have been allowed to roll unspent cap dollars into the next year. Add that to the $168 million cap and you get a team cap of just under $182 million (numbers may not add exactly due to rounding). Take that and subtract the $120 million in expenditures from above and you have the Redskins with $62 million in cap space.

Only six teams have more cap space than that. The Redskins, like most other teams, can create more cap space by releasing some veteran players whose contract values outstrip their values on the field. Some possibilities for the Redskins:

OL Kory Lichtensteiger has spent large chunks of the last two seasons on injured reserve. After he was activated off of IR this year he didn’t play a snap. It appears that Spencer Long is now entrenched at the center position. Lichtensteiger’s cap number is $4.05 million and there would be cap savings of $3.5 million if they release him.

DB DeAngelo Hall has been injured the last three years. His salary in the last year of his four-year contract is $4.25 million and Hall is savvy enough to know that the team isn’t going to pay that to a 33-year-old player with his injury history. Hall is willing to rework his deal to be able to stay but the team could decide to move on and save the $4.25 million in cap space.

TE Derek Carrier played in eight games and caught just two passes. It’s possible that he wasn’t fully healthy after suffering multiple ligament tears in his knee, including his ACL. His cap number is just over $1 million and the team could save all of that by letting him go.

TE Niles Paul also had just two receptions in eight games before he suffered a torn labrum that landed him on IR for the second straight year. He missed all of the 2015 season with a broken ankle. Paul is a special teams captain and one of the coaches’ favorites, but the organization will have to take a long, hard look at the $2 million in cap space they could save by moving on.

MORE REDSKINS: Fixing the offense in the red zone critical for 2017 Redskins

The Redskins could make all the above moves and save nearly $11 million, bringing their available cap space to $73 million. They could release some of those players and make other moves that will save smaller amounts of money that could add up. This is all variable and unknown at the moment. We’ll stick with a cap number of $62 million and then see what happens from there.

Out of that, the Redskins will need to find a way to pay Kirk Cousins (or another quarterback), DeSean Jackson and/or Pierre Garçon (or another wide receiver) and get help on defense, particularly on the line and at safety. If they move on from the players who could be cap casualties, they will have to be replaced.

We’ll look at the what the Redskins need to do and what they could do with their money over the next week or so. One thing is clear—with their big pile of cap space they will have plenty of options.

Related: Uncertainty surrounding Kirk Cousins impacts Redskins pursuit of free agent receivers

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Need to Know: Five players who are wild cards for the 2018 Redskins

Need to Know: Five players who are wild cards for the 2018 Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, April 19, seven days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

Five wild cards for the 2018 Redskins

We know what to expect out of many members of the Redskins. Ryan Kerrigan will register between 10 and 13 sacks. Zach Brown will be among the league leaders in tackles. Jamison Crowder will compile about 800 yards receiving. But we really don’t know what to expect out of a lot of the players expected to play key roles. Here are five of them.

S Montae Nicholson—Although most of the uncertainty surrounding Nicholson is about his health, we really don’t know what he can do over a full season. Sure, he looked good in the six games he played last year but opposing offenses did not have much of a chance to probe his weaknesses. If he stays healthy, his ability to adjust to what the offenses are doing against him will be the next phase of his development. 

CB Fabian Moreau—As a rookie, he was impressive as a punt team gunner, but he got very limited playing time on defense (59 snaps, only seven after Week 5). The Redskins will be counting on him stepping into a bigger role after the departures of Bashaud Breeland and Kendall Fuller. He has the tools but we won’t know how well he can handle the job until he gets extended playing time. 

WR Maurice Harris—Last year he went from spectacular to invisible in a hurry. He made a sensational catch for 36 yards and a touchdown against the Vikings the first time he was targeted. In five games after that, he had just three receptions for 26 yards. Should he have had more playing time (76 snaps)? Or did he just not earn more targets? The real Maurice Harris should come to the forefront in 2018.

NT Phil Taylor—You know the story here. He was looking great in training camp until a quad injury sidelined him for the season. Taylor is healthy enough for the Redskins to give him another chance but this is a player who has not taken the field since November of 2014. We simply don’t know what to expect out of him even if he does make into Week 1 in good health. 

RB Samaje Perine—His play improved as the year went on but he wasn’t good enough to keep both Jay Gruden and Doug Williams from saying that running back is a draft need. Ideally, he shares carries with the probable draft pick with a few going to Chris Thompson and they combine to rush for 1,800 yards. 

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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Timeline  

Days until:

—OTAs start (5/22) 33
—Training camp starts (7/26) 98
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 143

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Is the Redskins’ starter at left guard already on the roster?

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Is the Redskins’ starter at left guard already on the roster?

The Redskins have checked off a number of their “needs” boxes that they had when the season began. But there are two holes that remain. 

One is nose tackle. Of course, that has been an issue since 2010. The Redskins may have obtained part of the solution when the brought back Phil Taylor last week and most believe that more help will come in the draft. 

The other need, the one at left guard, also may be a work in progress. Or, perhaps they think they have the solution on the depth chart. 

The team does not put out a depth chart before training camp but if they did distribute one right now they would have Arie Kouandjio as the starting left guard. That is cause for consternation among many Redskins fans and based on some of his past play the low confidence level is justified. 

Kouandjio was a fourth-round pick in 2015. He played sparingly his first two years in the league, getting two fill-in starts in 2016. In training camp last year, he spent a lot of time playing with the third team and it was no surprise when he was one of the final cuts. The team kept undrafted rookie Tyler Catalina instead. 

Kouandjio caught on with the Ravens’ practice squad but when injuries started to pile upon the O-line in Week 8, the Redskins brought him back. Two days after he was signed he played 22 snaps at left guard against the Cowboys. 

In all, he played in eight games, starting six of them. He allowed three sacks, which is the same number that Brandon Scherff gave up, but Scherff played about twice as many snaps. 

What about 2018? Word from John Keim is that Kouandjio has changed his training to focus on lower-body strength and agility. He knows that he has a chance to establish himself in the NFL and he’s doing what he can to take advantage of it. 

Another option at left guard is 31-year-old Tony Bergstrom, who was re-signed earlier this week. He has played for four teams in six years in the league and has started seven games including three at center for the Redskins. Like Kouandjio, he may not be the ideal solution but perhaps a passable option. 

The whole picture here could up be upended in the draft if the Redskins use one of their top picks on a guard. There has been plenty of chatter about Ohio State center Billy Price going to the Redskins in the second round. He may not last that long. If he’s there, however, the Redskins have to seriously consider him. 

The team may go through the draft and perhaps OTAs and minicamp with what they have now. If it doesn’t look like they have a starting caliber player in place they then could reach out to the free agent market and bring in someone like Alex Boone

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Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.