Redskins

Quick Links

Redskins' salary cap space tight but no real urgency to create more

Redskins' salary cap space tight but no real urgency to create more

After signing four veteran players in the past 10 days, including wide receiver DeSean Jackson, the Redskins’ cap space is getting tight, with just over $2.5 million left. That's less than all but three NFL teams. However, there is no particular urgency for them to do anything about it.

They released three players on Saturday but the impact on the cap was minimal due to the Rule of 51. That rule states that up until the final cuts are made in late August only the top 51 salary cap numbers on the team count towards the salary cap. This is how a team can afford to carry 90 players on the roster and still stay within cap limits.

When a player who has a cap number in the top 51 is cut, his number comes off the books and it is replaced by the player whose cap number was 52nd.

Josh Hull, Josh Bellamy, and Ryan Mouton, the three players who were released Saturday, all were on minimum salary contracts. They were replaced in the list of 51 top cap numbers by three others who also are making the minimum. So it’s pretty much a wash.

They have 71 players on the roster so they can sign 19 more to get up to the 90-man roster limit. Unless they sign anyone who is making substantially over minimum salary the cap impact will be minimal or non-existent.

Only two members of their draft class will have any immediate cap impact. The top two picks will count a total of about $500,000 against the cap. The rest will have cap numbers that will fall outside of the top 51.

So, unless another DeSean Jackson situation falls into their laps, the Redskins can roll along with their $2.5 million in cap space for the time being. They can sign their draft picks, some undrafted free agents and, if necessary, low-cost veterans to fill out their 90-man roster. When the season starts all of the 53-man roster plus players on injured reserve, the practice squad and any injury settlements paid count against the cap. They probably will need to create some more cap space by then. But they have plenty of time to evaluate and figure out the best course of action.

The Redskins have no salary cap urgency to make a move but they still need to carefully consider making a few. The offseason workout program starts tomorrow and players will report to Redskins Park to begin the conditioning phase. That marks the start of something of a danger zone for the team. If any player is seriously inured during the workouts and is out for the season the team will be on the hook for that player’s fully salary. And, once the season starts, it will count against the cap.

So if the Redskins have a higher-priced veteran player they think will have a difficult time making the team they might consider releasing him. Although the chances of someone getting seriously injured in conditioning drills are slim, weight room accidents and slips leading to torn ACLs do happen.

If they think that higher-priced veteran can help them they should keep him around. Again, there isn’t a great deal of risk here. But the lower the chances of a veteran making the 53-man roster are, the better it is to exercise an abundance of caution.

Quick Links

The Redskins drafted for need, and this time, that is just fine

The Redskins drafted for need, and this time, that is just fine

ASHBURN, Va. -- After months, and maybe years, of the Redskins front office explaining that the NFL Draft came down to taking the best player available, the organization might have veered from that strategy Thursday night.

The Redskins selected Alabama defensive lineman Da'Ron Payne with the No. 13 overall pick. It's a fine selection, but the team made it not necessarily because Payne was the best player available, but because he was the best player available at a position of desperate need. 

"There were quite a few guys that were worthy of that pick, quite frankly, but for what we were looking for and the fit, I think Da’Ron is perfect for us and what we were looking for," Washington head coach Jay Gruden said after the first round ended.

Payne should help right away on the Redskins defensive line, but plenty of fans want to know why the team didn't select Derwin James and Tremaine Edmunds at No. 13. Both freak athletes, James could have helped the Redskins' secondary while Edmunds could help at the linebacker spot and rushing the passer.

Asked specifically if Payne was on top of the board at No. 13 with Edmunds and James present, the coach wasn't quite crystal clear.

"Yeah, he was up there. There’s a lot of scenarios we tried to play through and guys were getting picked and we’re happy as heck to get Da’Ron. He’s one of our top guys."

For Gruden and the Redskins, this pick was about competing in the NFC East.

"You see what’s going on in our division with Saquon Barkley and Ezekiel Elliott and Philadelphia, the way they run the ball," the coach said. "Our [2017] ranking on defense wasn’t quite up to speed at 32nd."

The coach is right. 

The Redskins struggled mightily last season against the run, coming in dead last in rush defense. In turn, they struggled in the division, going 1-5. Dallas and Philadelphia already run the ball very well, and now by drafting Barkley second overall, the Giants could be a strong run team too. 

There is no question Payne will step in and help against the run, and that should happen immediately. Gruden even said the Redskins will use Payne at the nose tackle position, likely with Jonathan Allen and Matt Ioannidis lined up next to him. 

The question on Payne is pass rushing ability, and he's eager to prove it's no question at all. 

"I’m going to get after the pass rush and just dominate the run every chance I get," the new Redskins said in a conference call with media. 

In thre years at Alabama, Payne logged three sacks. Read that again. It's not a misprint. 

For interior defensive line players, sacks aren't always a great measure of effectiveness. Getting good push up the middle disrupts the quarterbacks time in the pocket, and that often results in sacks off the edge. Payne should be able to help in that capacity.

"I think he's got great power, and a lot of times the sacks that don't show up on the stat board, he enabled other guys to get them because of the push of the pocket that forces the quarterback outside. I think Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith and Ryan Anderson will be very happy to have Jonathan Allen and Da'Ron Payne in the middle pushing that pocket," Gruden said. "Stats don't always tell a story about pass rushers."

The Redskins made a smart, safe pick with Payne. He will help the team from Day One. 

The Redskins eschewed the chance for a riskier, but maybe more rewarding pick in Derwin James or Tremaine Edmunds. And that's ok.

If Payne boosts the run defense, like he should, he will be proven worth the No. 13 pick.

If Payne boosts the run defense, and proves capable as a pass rusher, then Redskins fans will forget all about James and Edmunds. 

MORE REDSKINS NFL DRAFT NEWS:


REDSKINS TALK PODCAST:

 Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

Quick Links

Da'Ron Payne's first reaction after being drafted No. 13 by the Redskins

Da'Ron Payne's first reaction after being drafted No. 13 by the Redskins

Many top draft choices chose to head to the NFL Draft, hear their name called and get the pomp and circumstance that comes with all that is the NFL Draft. 

The Washington Reskins' No. 13 pick Da'Ron Payne was not one of those prospects. 

Instead, Payne watched the draft surronded by close friends and family.

The reaction was memorable: 

Some draft picks choose not to come for fear of slidding down draft boards, or worse: not being picked in the first round at all. 

So he doesn't get to meet Roger Goodell. He doesn't get a Redskins' jersey on draft night.

But this video wouldn't exist if the defensive tackle from Alabama chose to go to Dallas, Texas on draft night. 

RELATED: