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Need to Know: Redskins unlikely to have any cap casualties

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Need to Know: Redskins unlikely to have any cap casualties

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, February 16, 26 days before NFL free agency starts.

No cap casualties?

NFL free agency less than four weeks away. It’s the time of year when veterans who have big salaries for the coming season but not enough recent on-field production to match the money don’t want to answer their phones. On the other end, there may be a team executive informing them that they have become cap casualties.

It’s not hard to identify the candidates for being let go. There isn’t an exact formula but it’s some combination of age, where you rank in salary at your position, and how you performed the previous season including games missed due to injury. NFL.com has this list of 21 cap casualty candidates. And those are just the ones in the NFC. You can find more lists elsewhere. In addition, many more lesser-known players suddenly will become free agents as teams venture to find younger and cheaper solutions.

But you won’t find many Redskins on these lists. They have about $31 million in cap space after you subtract out the $17 million hit for QB Alex Smith that will hit the books when the trade with the Chiefs becomes official. They don’t have much flexibility because nearly all of their high-priced players are necessary, productive members of the team.

The only Redskin whose name is on the NFL.com list is in the fine print on the bottom of the post, under “other players in trouble”. Defensive lineman Terrell McClain, who will turn 30 just before training camp starts and missed four games with a toe injury last year, has a $4.7 million cap number including $3.25 million in salary. There is some conflicting information on if that salary is fully guaranteed at signing or if it becomes guaranteed at some point next month. If the guarantee doesn’t kick in until later now, releasing McClain would only save about $980,000 in cap space. If it’s guaranteed now, there would be a net cap charge of nearly $2 million.

In either case, there aren’t many Redskins who are not in the plans who could save a significant amount of money. There are four players who would save over $4 million in cap space if released. But they are not going to move on from Josh Norman, Trent Williams, Ryan Kerrigan or Jordan Reed.

Some might argue that Reed is not worth his $10.1 million cap hit. If you base it on just his 2017 production, the point has some validity. But the Redskins are not going to give up on him just one year into the five-year extension he signed in 2016. He will get at least another year, maybe two, to show that he can stay healthy and regain the form that made him one of the league’s top tight ends. In addition, there would be $5.4 million in dead cap associated with cutting Reed, a factor that would cement the decision to keep him around.

Some veterans might be endangered after free agency or following the draft. If the Redskins land a top defensive lineman, Ziggy Hood could get released, saving about $1.1 million in cap space. Or if McClain is still around, he could be a post-June 1 cut, spreading his dead cap hit out over two seasons.

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) 13
—NFL Draft (4/26) 69
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 205

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The Redskins are reportedly hosting Adrian Peterson for a free agent visit

The Redskins are reportedly hosting Adrian Peterson for a free agent visit

After sustaining a number of injuries to their running back group, the Redskins need help at the position. 

In that quest, the team will bring in veteran Adrian Peterson for a free agent visit, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Media.

Arguably one of the best all-time running backs in the NFL, Peterson not being on a roster at this point in the season might be a surprise. Last year, Peterson split time between New Orleans and Arizona and rushed for more than 500 yards. 

Peterson built his fame and name with a long run of success in Minnesota, including a 2,000-yard season in 2012. In 123 games with the Vikings spanning 10 years, he rushed for nearly 12,000 yards and 97 touchdowns. 

Washington is in serious need for depth and talent at RB. 

Rookie Derrius Guice went down for the season in the preseason opener, and last week Samaje Perine and Byron Marshall sustained injuries. 

At Sunday's practice, head coach Jay Gruden joked that his son, Jack, should take some practice reps at the position. 

Currently, the Redskins only have Rob Kelley, Chris Thompson and Kapri Bibbs as running backs on the roster, and Thompson hasn't played yet this preseason as he's working back from a broken leg last November.

The Redskins also worked out veteran runners Jamaal Charles and Orleans Darkwa. Peterson has the biggest name of all of them.

This offseason, Peterson also worked out with Redskins tackle Trent Williams.

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For more analysis on Peterson's visit, check out this RB-oriented episode of Redskins Talk.

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Jamaal Charles headlines a group of Redskins running back tryouts

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Jamaal Charles headlines a group of Redskins running back tryouts

Jamaal Charles used to be among the best running backs in the NFL, and maybe the Redskins hope to turn back the clock. 

Washington is dealing with a number of injuries at the running back spot, and to get through two more preseason games, the team is bringing in a number of veteran runners for tryouts. Charles is the biggest name coming in for a test drive with the Redskins, as ESPN reported. Former Giants RB Orleans Darkwa is also getting a tryout, per multiple reports. 

How did Washington get to the point where the team needs to add more backfield options in mid-August?

First, Derrius Guice injured his knee in the preseason opener. He will miss the season. 

In the second preseason game, Samaje Perine, Byron Marshall and rookie Martez Carter got hurt. Perine should be back in a week or as he suffered only a sprained ankle. Marshall could miss a month, making a roster spot flimsy, and Carter was waived due to his injury. 

That means the Burgundy and Gold only have Rob Kelley, Kapri Bibbs and Chris Thompson active for practice, and remember, Thompson is working back from a broken leg he suffered last November. He hasn't played yet in the preseason, and might not go at all until Week 1 in Arizona.

Add all of that together and the team was forced to bring in veteran options, if for nothing else than to get through the remaining two preseason games.

Back to Charles.

From 2009 to 2014, Charles put up absurd numbers. He approached 2,000 total yards from scrimmage in both 2013 and 2010, and put up more than 1,700 total yards in 2012. It's worth adding that Charles found great success with Alex Smith when both were playing in Kansas City. Just saying. He was undeniably great, and probably won thousands of people thousands of dollars as a fantasy football MVP.

That time appears to be over though.

In the last three seasons, injuries have robbed Charles of his burst and elusiveness. Last year, he couldn't break through in the Denver backfield despite being healthy for 14 games. He rushed for just under 300 yards. 

Redskins fans will have unfortunate memories of Darkwa.

In an ugly Week 17 loss last season in New York, he busted a 75-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage and finished the game with 154 yards. Last season was the best of his career for Darkwa, he ran for more than 750 yards and averaged 4.4 yards-per-carry. He's only 26 years old and, coincidentally, played college football at Tulane with Rob Kelley

By adding Guice in the second round of the NFL Draft this spring, the Redskins thought they addressed their need for a talent boost at the RB position. With Guice out for the year, the position looks about the same as it did in 2017. 

Adding Charles and Darkwa seem unlikely to change that, at least significantly. And that's if either of the veteran runners even make the 53-man roster. 

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