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Which Redskin might be a surprise cap casualty in 2016?

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Which Redskin might be a surprise cap casualty in 2016?

In less than a year, the Redskins completed a stunning turnaround, ascending from a laughingstock in 2014 to a division champion in 2015. But now comes the difficult part: taking that all-important next step and improving from a franchise that was fortunate to get into the playoffs to one that can do some damage once it gets there. And that work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players.

In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will examine the 25 biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.

No. 4

Who are surprise candidates to be cut for salary cap reasons?

Tandler: At this point I don’t think that anyone will be surprised when the inevitable happens and the Redskins move on from Robert Griffin III and his $16.1 million 2016 salary. So we can safely eliminate him from the discussion here.

And nobody will be shocked if DE Jason Hatcher and WR Andre Roberts depart for cap reasons as well. But who else might go?

Looking at the remaining players who have high cap numbers without productivity on the field to match, my eye immediately goes to safety Dashon Goldson. His cap number is $8 million, the eighth-highest on the team and the sixth-highest among NFL safeties.

For their $8 million the Redskins will get a player who is a stand-up leader and one who sets a great example in the locker room. But they won’t be getting a player who performed very well in 2015. He missed 32 tackles. Pro Football Focus ranked him 60th out of the 60 safeties who played at least 50 percent of their teams’ snaps.

Given that the Redskins don’t have a lot of depth at safety and that they do value Goldson’s leadership, they might try to negotiate a pay cut for the veteran, who will turn 32 during Week 2 of the coming season. But that can be problematic and you can’t rule out the possibility that they can’t come to an agreement and Goldson and the team have, as they like to say these days, a parting of ways.

El-Bashir: Can’t argue with anything Tandler said above. I'm also curious about the futures of wide receivers Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson, who are due to count $10.2 million and $9.25 million against the cap, respectively, and center Kory Lichtensteiger, who is due just over $4 million.

But for the purpose of today's discussion, I'd like to highlight a couple of defensive players who stood out to me: linebacker Perry Riley and cornerback Chris Culliver.

Let’s start with Riley’s situation, which is a complicated one. He got off to a slow start in 2015 and even saw Will Compton take a lot of his playing time at New England in Week 9. However, in the three games that followed, Riley, 27, responded by playing his best football of the season. Then he suffered a broken foot in practice and did not play in the final five regular season games and the playoff game.

Riley’s cap hit in 2016 is $5,049,804—that’s the 10th highest on the team—and the Redskins could save $4 million by cutting him.

Here’s the question: Do the coaches envision Riley as a starter next season? Or are they okay with Compton and Mason Foster, who performed well down the stretch and figure to cost significantly less?

Culliver, meantime, is attempting to bounce back from a torn ACL that he suffered during a practice in late November. His health, however, isn't the only thing creating uncertainty about his future in Washington. According to The Washington Times, the four-year $32 million contract Culliver signed last offseason to be the Redskins’ No. 1 corner contained a clause that voided the $8 million he’s guaranteed next season...if he got suspended in '15. And, of course, Culliver was suspended in Week 2 for an off-the-field incident that occurred when he was a 49er.

Culliver is due to count $9.25 million against the cap next season—that’s the fifth highest hit on the team—but the Redskins can walk away with only a $3.75 million charge to their cap. And with another significant knee injury creating questions about his availability, it certainly makes you wonder.

25 Questions series

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Need to Know: The five highest-paid 2018 Redskins

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Need to Know: The five highest-paid 2018 Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, February 24, 18 days before NFL free agency starts.

I’m out this week so I’ll be re-posting some of the best and most popular articles of the past few months. Some may have slightly dated information but the major points in the posts still stand. Thanks for reading, as always.

The five highest-paid Redskins in 2018

Originally published 1/12/18

This is how the five highest-paid Redskins per their 2018 salary cap numbers stack up as of now. The list could change, of course during free agency and if a particular quarterback returns. Cap numbers via Over the Cap.

CB Josh Norman, $17 million—The Redskins do have a window which would allow them to move on from Norman. His $13.5 million salary for this year doesn’t become guaranteed until the fifth day of the league year so it would be “only” a $9 million cap charge to move on from Norman, who turned 30 in December. Don’t look for that to happen but the possibility is there.

OT Trent Williams, $13.86 million—He is one of the best left tackles in the business. Those of you out there who have advocated moving him to left guard should look at this cap number, which is way out of line for what a team can afford to pay a guard. At his pay, he needs to be playing on the edge.

OLB Ryan Kerrigan, $12.45 million—He has delivered double-digit sacks in each of the two seasons that his contract extension has been in effect. That’s good value in a league that values the ability to get to the quarterback.

TE Jordan Reed, $10.14 million—The Redskins knew that he might have a year like last year when he played in only six games when they agreed to Reed’s five-year, $50 million extension. They can live with one such season. If he has another one in 2018 they may rethink things.

G Brandon Scherff, $6.75 million—The fact that a rookie contract is No. 5 on this list is a good sign that, as of now, the Redskins’ cap is not top heavy like it was last year. The top three cap hits from Norman, Williams, and Kirk Cousins totaled $59 million, which was about 35 percent of the cap. This year the total cap numbers of the top three come to $43.3 million, 24.3 percent of the estimated $178 million salary cap.

Next five: OT Morgan Moses ($5.4 million), TE Vernon Davis ($5.33 million), DL Stacy McGee ($4.8 million), DL Terrell McClain ($4.75 million), S D.J. Swearinger ($4.33 million)

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.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 5
—NFL Draft (4/26) 61
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 197

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Martavis Bryant could make sense for the Redskins, at the right price

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Martavis Bryant could make sense for the Redskins, at the right price

A 2017 midseason trade for Martavis Bryant made no sense for the Redskins. A 2018 offseason trade for Martavis Bryant, however, might make sense for the Redskins. 

Bryant is on the trade block, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, and will be an intriguing prospect for receiver-needy teams across the NFL. In parts of three seasons with the Steelers, Bryant has 17 touchdowns and a 15.2 yards-per-reception average. 

A big play threat from any place on the field, Bryant would immediately make the Redskins receiving unit more athletic and explosive. 

It's not all good news with Bryant, though.

He was suspended for the entire 2016 season after repeated drug violations and caused some distraction for Pittsburgh during the 2017 season when he asked for a trade via social media. 

MORE: CAN YOU GUESS THESE REDSKINS BASED ON THEIR COMBINE NUMBERS?

Is the talent enough to overcome the off-field distractions? Many would say it is. 

Last year, in just eight starts, Bryant grabbed 50 catches for more than 600 yards and three TDs. In their lone playoff loss to the Jaguars, Bryant caught two passes for 78 yards and a TD. 

Remember, too, the Steelers have an explosive offense, and Bryant is coupled with Antonio Brown on the receiver front along with Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback and Le'Veon Bell at running back. The Pittsburgh offense is loaded. 

Washington's offense is not nearly the prolific unit that the Steelers send out, but Jay Gruden does design a good offense. 

The real question surrounding any talk of trading for Bryant is the cost.

The Redskins are not in a position to send away any more draft picks this offseason after giving up a third-round pick, in addition to Kendall Fuller, to acquire Alex Smith. Bruce Allen and the Redskins front office need to improve their team in plenty of spots, and the team's draft picks are quite valuable. 

Bryant only has one year remaining on his rookie deal, and it's hard to balance that sort of short-term investment with the value of adding a rookie committed to the team for at least four years. Perhaps a late-round pick would make sense, but it would need to be a sixth-rounder. 

This could be one of those rare situations in the NFL where a player for player swap could work, though pulling that type of maneuver requires a lot of moving parts. 

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