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Will the Redskins try to squeeze out more cap room?

Will the Redskins try to squeeze out more cap room?

The Redskins have about $25 million in salary cap space, assuming that the NFL cap comes in at the $143 million that the NFLPA estimated last week. They created over $9 million in space last week when they released defensive linemen Barry Cofield and Stephen Bowen. With free agency starting a week from tomorrow, are there any other cap casualties to be announced? If they want more cap space, are there other ways to create it?

There may be a few options but the Redskins are running out of players whom they can afford to cut and will create substantial savings against the cap. In fact, if you define “substantial” as $2 million or more, there are only two.

Guard Chris Chester, who has played virtually every snap on the Redskins line since signing as a free agent in 2011, has a $4.8 million cap number. He is 32 and while the coaching staff has a higher opinion of his level of play than do Redskins fans, he will need to be replaced sooner rather than later. Releasing him would save $4 million against the cap.

If the Redskins plan to use Chester in a reserve role this year or have him compete for the starting job with a younger player, perhaps Spencer Long, a third-round pick last year, they could offer to keep him at a reduced salary. Chester would have to agree to that and figure out if he could get more money in the open market, if he really wants to start over with another team at his age, and various other factors.

The other possible cap casualty is cornerback Tracy Porter. Unlike the durable Chester, Porter didn’t play much after signing with the Redskins. He was brought in to be the nickel back a year ago but between hamstring and shoulder injuries he played just 89 snaps.

The issue here is that they are thin at cornerback especially given the uncertainty surrounding the health of DeAngelo Hall, who twice tore his Achilles last fall. They could perhaps keep Porter around and then release him if it turns out that Hall is good to go and additional depth can be found in free agency or the draft. But the risk there is if Porter should suffer a season-ending injury the Redskins will be on the hook for his $2.25 million 2015 salary and $250,000 roster bonus. Releasing Porter would save $2.3 million against the cap.

There is plenty of talk of the possibility of the Redskins creating more cap room by extending the contracts of Ryan Kerrigan and/or Trent Williams or by doing something with Pierre Garçon’s deal. I wrote last week why there are no options to adjust Garçon’s contract that really make sense.

There does seem to be some movement towards giving Kerrigan an extension sometime soon, although nothing appears to be imminent. But it may not make sense to do a deal that would substantially lower his cap number, which is a shade over $7 million. A Kerrigan extension will average at least $10 million per year. Sure, they could create a contract that would have a 2015 cap hit of, say, $4 or $5 million. But Kerrigan isn’t going to sign an extension that gives him a pay cut this year; in fact, he will be looking for a substantial increase. Any money saved this year would have to be paid down the road. The smart thing to do would be to take the hit this year and deal with it now instead of later.

As far as Williams goes, neither side seems to be very anxious to get a deal done. Williams is due over $12 million in salary and roster bonus this year so his bank account will do fine with or without a new deal. And the Redskins apparently want to see if he can remain healthy for a full season in order to gauge his value more accurately.

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Kirk Cousins breaks down the terribleness of FedEx Field grass

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Kirk Cousins breaks down the terribleness of FedEx Field grass

For years, the Redskins struggle with their home field as the fall turns to winter. It's been happening so long it's become an expected passing of the seasons, like the transition from Halloween jack-o-lanterns to Christmas lights dotting people's front yards. 

Well, on Thanksgiving night, the turf at FedEx Field again showed how bad it can be. On a second half interception returned for a New York Giants touchdown, replay showed that Kirk Cousins' foot got stuck on the dirt, and it played a role in his sailing a ball to the sideline. The bad turf was not the only reason for the interception, but it was definitely a reason. 

Beyond the pick, the field was just ugly. Twitter blew up making fun of the Redskins home grass, and the national broadcast showed just how unsightly the long brown patch between the hash marks looked. 

On Friday, the normally diplomatic Cousins opened up about the grass.

"It probably doesn't look like a professional NFL field should," the quarterback said on 106.7 the Fan (full audio here). "If you think the field is rough now on Thanksgiving, we've got two more home games in mid-to-late December. That's probably going to be a bigger challenge."

Asked about the field's impact on the interception on Thursday night, Cousins ignored it. But plenty of other players have suggested the field is a known problem in the second half, and something they just must deal with. 

"I don't know why it is that way or what causes it," Cousins said. "I've kind of learned to accept it and understand it's part of the deal. Playing here on the field has never been that great in the second half of the season for whatever the reason."

[h/t @BenStandig for the Cousins quotes]

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When Samaje Perine got going, so did the Redskins' offense

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Bob Youngentob for NBC Sports Washington

When Samaje Perine got going, so did the Redskins' offense

At halftime of the Redskins’ Thanksgiving night game against the Giants, Samaje Perine had three yards rushing and his team had three points. Washington had racked up all of 113 yards.

Coincidence? Not entirely. Although the Redskins are primarily a passing team they need to run the ball to pass effectively.

“We had to get the running game going,” said Jay Gruden after the game.

In the second half, Perine and the offense did get it going. Perine ran for 97 yards and Redskins put up 210 yards and 17 points. It’s safe to say that it wasn’t a coincidence.

The Redskins didn’t make any halftime adjustments to get the ground game in gear.

“We just had to stay the course,” said Perine. “We knew they were going to come out fired up, they just came off a big win. We just had to stay the course and then things started going our way.”

MORE REDSKINS: MUST-SEE PHOTOS OF THE WIN

Perine was more steady than spectacular. His longest run was 16 yards. He came out of the locker room and ran for six and 10 yards on his first two carries. Later in the third quarter the Redskins were backed up at their own 10. Perine ran four straight plays for 39 yards and the Redskins were near midfield.

Although they didn’t score on that drive they did change field position. That was part of the Redskins’ strategy playing with an injury-depleted offense.

“If you had to punt in a game like this and play field position, it’s not the end of the world because our defense was playing so good,” said Gruden.

Not only did the running game flip the field, it flipped the time of possession. In the first half, the Giants had the ball for 17:40 compared to 12:20 for the Redskins.

“We had to get on the field and control some of the clock,” said tackle Morgan Moses. “We had to give our defense a rest. Samaje put his foot in the ground and got extra yards when needed and we were able to move the chains.”

Moses wasn’t the only one enjoying seeing Perine pile up some yards.

“As a defensive player, you want to see that,” said safety D.J. Swearinger. “We say, keep running it. Keep running him. Let him keep getting those carries, put a dent in the defense. It was a good sight to see.”

RELATED: FIVE KEY MOMENTS IN RESKINS VS GIANTS

Swearinger got to watch a lot of Perine. The Redskins piled up 22:17 in possession in the second half, while Swearinger and his defensive mates had to defend for just 7:43.

Last night was the second time in four days that Perine has rushed for 100 yards or more; he had 117 in New Orleans on Sunday. No Redskin has rushed for 100 yards in consecutive games since Alfred Morris did it in November of 2013.

He will have a chance to extend that streak to three on Thursday against the Cowboys, who are ranked 17th in rushing defense. That would put him in some elite company in Redskins history, including Larry Brown (twice) and Stephen Davis.  A steak of three straight 100-yard games was last done by Morris in 2012.

It may be a little early to look forward, but the Redskins record is five straight 100-yard games, held by Clinton Portis (twice) and Ladell Betts.  

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.