Alex Smith's contract is going to take up a $20 million chunk of the Redskins' salary cap this offseason, and there's not much the team can do about it, either.
"You just have to bite the bullet," ex-NFL agent and cap expert Joel Corry said while on Redskins Talk at the Combine.
Currently, Washington has just $17 million freed up to spend on free agents and draft picks. That's a lot of money in a lot of areas of life, but when it comes to pro football, that's a tiny budget.
However, Corry explained in his interview how Washington can "get to $35, $40 [million]" by making a bunch of moves with their own players.
Here are the precise steps he laid out that could create that much-needed breathing room for the Burgundy and Gold.
Players to cut
Zach Brown: The linebacker signed a three-year contract last year but wasn't nearly as productive in his second season as a Redskin as he was in his first. Letting him go would give the 'Skins $5.75 million more to use.
Stacy McGee: McGee only played eight games in 2018 and Washington's defensive line is now its best unit thanks to its younger talent. If they were to drop McGee, they'd save $2.275 million.
The savings above are something the franchise has total control over. Restructuring, on the other hand, requires the players to cooperate. With that being said, Corry sees the following as viable options:
Vernon Davis: A "35-year-old high-priced tight end is a little bit of a luxury," Corry said. "Try to get him to take a pay cut."
Changing up Davis' contract could provide a few million more to work with. And if you have to just part ways, that's $5 million in savings.
Ryan Kerrigan or Trent Williams: Corry suggests approaching both of these well-established veterans, but not for a pay cut. Instead, he'd advise the Redskins to convert their salary to signing bonus.
Doing that with one or the other would open up roughly $5 million.
Josh Norman: Here's one that Corry acknowledges is unlikely but still worth investigating. Norman will make $14.5 million in 2019; would he be willing to accept a little less?
Brandon Scherff: "There's one more way you can get cap room," Corry said, before bringing up the idea of extending the 2015 first-round pick.
"The longer you wait to sign a Pro Bowl caliber player," he continued, "it's going to cost you more in the long run. You can conceivably, depending upon how you structure, pick up $7, $7.5 million doing that. You're going to chop the base salary down, make it a signing bonus. You can pick up significant cap room."
Add it all up and...
So, let's say Brown and McGee are released, Davis restructures, Kerrigan or Williams does the same and Scherff gets extended. If those happen, the 'Skins would find themselves with roughly an additional $23 million, which gets them up to the $40 million Corry referenced.
That would go up, too, if Davis is cut or Norman accepts a pay cut.
The lesson is: The situation looks dire now, but it can be improved. Their wallets should be a bit thicker, and could be a lot thicker, by the team free agency rolls around.
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