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Redskins salary cap analysis: How much for Orakpo, Riley?

Redskins salary cap analysis: How much for Orakpo, Riley?

As Jay Gruden continues the process of assembling the playbook, people in another part of the building at Redskins Park are looking forward to free agency and how best to utilize the approximately $28 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. So far, we’ve looked at wide receivers, offensive backs, the offensive line, and the defensive line. Next up, linebackers.

The Redskins currently have seven linebackers under contract.

  Name Base Cap number
OLB Ryan Kerrigan $1,564,131 $2,774,639
ILB Keenan Robinson $570,000 $675,027
ILB Josh Hull $645,000 $645,000
LB Adrian Robinson $570,000 $570,000
ILB Will Compton $495,000 $495,000
OLB Brandon Jenkins $495,000 $537,215
LB Jeremy Kimbrough $495,000 $495,000
      $6,191,881

Some notes:

—The Redskins will carry dead cap charges for the voiding contracts of London Fletcher ($2.1 million) and Brian Orakpo ($715,000).

—Those two are free agents, although Fletcher intends to retire. The contracts of Perry Riley, Darryl Tapp, Nick Barnett, Rob Jackson, and Bryan Kehl (injured reserve) are set to expire and they also are slated to be free agents when the league year starts on March 11.

—As one might expect with only one bona fide NFL starter signed, the Redskins rank low in the NFL in terms of spending on linebackers. Only two teams have fewer cap dollars committed to linebackers.

Adding and subtracting

Orakpo and Riley have been identified as two of the team’s top priorities to re-sign and according to reports contract talks with both have begun. In addition, they have to find a second starting inside linebacker to take Fletcher’s spot.

How much Orakpo and Riley are likely to make will be the topics of some upcoming posts so we won’t go into a bunch of detail here. But let’s take a quick look.

Orakpo’s floor is Paul Kruger’s deal from a year ago, a five year, $40 million contract. His ceiling is the contract extension Clay Matthews signed last year, a five-year deal that averages $13 million.

His production (39.5 career sacks) puts him closer to Matthews (42.5 sacks at the time he signed his extension) than Kruger (15.5). So let’s say something like $11 million per year.

That just happens to be right around the estimated $10.9 million franchise tag salary will be for linebackers. That is an option the Redskins could explore if they are concerned about losing him due to an above-market offer by a team with a lot of salary cap space.

According to the Washington Post, Riley’s camp may be looking for a contract comparable to the one that Dannell Ellerbe signed a year ago. He got a five-year deal averaging almost $7 million per year. The Redskins will point to the contract that Fletcher just completed, a deal that averaged less than $5.5 million per year.

It seems that the Ellerbe deal is an outlier, especially considering that he had started just 14 games when he signed the contract. Two of the four Pro Bowl inside linebackers are on second contracts. Paul Posluszny has a six-year contract worth $7 million per year and Derrick Johnson has a six-year contract paying him a shade over $6 million per year. Riley has not yet been in the Pro Bowl conversation. He could end up with something closer to what Fletcher made with some bonus clauses and escalators if he does make the Pro Bowl.

The Redskins might not have much left to spend on the spot next to Riley. Kerrigan is only on his rookie contract for one more year and then there is a team option for the 2015 season that will call for a salary of some $4-$5 million. The Redskins may try to work Keenan Robinson or a 2014 draft pick into the role with a veteran stopgap coming in at a relatively low salary this season. 

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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.

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Redskins Fan of the Year bracket: Which Washington supporter deserves the title?

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Redskins Fan of the Year bracket: Which Washington supporter deserves the title?

Every week during the 2017 Redskins season, NBC Sports Washington found two Redskins fans in the crowd and paired them in a head-to-head matchup on Twitter to determine the fan of the game.

And now that the season is over, it's time to take each of those winners, throw them into a NCAA Tournament-style bracket and let Twitter pick the Redskins Fan of the Year.

Starting on January 8 over on the @NBCSRedskins Twitter account, one matchup a day will be posted at 11 a.m., and fans will have 24 hours to vote for their favorite supporter by retweeting or liking depending on their preference. Week 1's winner will face off with Week 17's, Week 2's will play Week 16's, etc.

The winners will advance, and eventually, one member of the Burgundy and Gold faithful will stand above all the rest, earning the coveted title of Redskins Fan of the Year. 

Check out the results below, which'll be updated every day. To see the tweet that corresponded with each matchup, click the link after the date, but remember, retweets and likes submitted after the 24-hour period won't be counted.

ELITE 8 RESULTS

January 18: Round two, matchup one

The first Elite 8 matchup was... not close:

January 19: Round two, matchup two

The Elite 8's second tilt is underway. Vote now:


FIRST ROUND RESULTS

January 8: Round one, matchup one

This was a close one that came down to the last-minute, but at the 24-hour mark, Week 17's winner garnered justtttttttt enough retweets to move on.

January 9: Round one, matchup two

In this tournament, a giant Redskins chain is apparently worth more than a giant football hat.

January 10: Round one, matchup three

In the tournament's third showdown, we have our first winner from the Likes side:

January 11: Round one, matchup four

Was there anyway she wasn't gonna win, especially with the little Hogettes nose?

January 12: Round one, matchup five

Our fifth matchup's winner earned the most retweets of anyone up to this point:

January 15: Round one, matchup six

These three 'Skins fans had to witness Washington's Thursday night flop in Dallas, so it's only fair that they get to advance to the second round:

January 16: Round one, matchup seven

You'd think a turkey hat would be enough to capture a W, but not in this one:

January 17: Round one, matchup eight

The Elite 8 is now set with this showdown going to the retweets side: