Washington's pre-free agency position could get even better


Anyone who plays golf (hopefully) knows how it feels to hit a tee shot or an approach close to the pin that looks sweet from where the ball was struck — but then turns out to be even better upon arriving at the green. What appeared to initially be a 15-foot putt is really only six feet? That's just the best.

And it's also a pretty solid metaphor for the Washington Football Team's pre-free agency position.

Whenever Alex Smith's release from the team becomes official, the Burgundy and Gold will have the fourth-most salary cap space available, according to Ron Rivera and the WFT, should they want to, can be a major player once the market opens up in mid-March.

But wait — that gorgeous draw on the Par 3 that plopped down flag high is actually even prettier once you factor in a few additional things.

On Wednesday, ESPN's Dianna Russini was just the latest football reporter to suggest with this tweet that the pool of players to choose from is about to grow larger and more talented. Just a day before Russini posted that message, the respected and proven Kyle Van Noy and Kyle Rudolph went from employed to available, and they surely won't be the last established pros to be let go. 


The reasoning for the expected, league-wide shedding of veterans is that franchises will need to adjust to what's forecasted to be a reduced salary cap compared to what the NFL is used to seeing. 

So, as Washington prepares to sign guys in order to make a run at yet another NFC East title, it's very likely that the positions of need they'll be targeting will get even deeper thanks to future cap casualties. They'll have more options to choose from and spend their bountiful cash on, if they want to.

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That's not the only way this trend is going to benefit Rivera and Co., however.

Washington's standing as the fourth-most flexible club should only increase in importance as the salary cap ceiling decreases. That number isn't yet official, but SI's Andrew Brandt recently wrote that, "more than any year before," well-managed squads should have a "huge opportunity" to succeed. 

Right now, the Football Team's finances are in order. The impact of that could escalate in the short term — the fewer dollars there are to outlay, the more necessary it is to possess those dollars — and should also matter quite a bit down the road.

For so many years — and it's been a while since this was true, as they went in the opposite direction for much of the 2010s as well as in Rivera's first March in D.C. — Washington was the laughingstock of free agency. 

Yet this time, as other organizations work to fix their budget and are forced to drop contributors from their rosters, Washington seems poised to pounce. Should they take advantage of their situation, they'll be the ones laughing when the frenzy concludes.