Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, March 16, 42 days before the April 27 NFL draft.


Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/17) 32
—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 57
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 69
—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/15) 121
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 178

Three and out

It was one of last year’s mysteries. Why did the Redskins leave around $15 million in unspent cap space sitting there when they still had some needs to be filled, especially on the defensive line?

We now know. They need the money this year.

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The Redskins rolled that cap space—$15,305,065 to be exact—over into this year. That gave them around $59 million in cap space before the new league year started. Kirk Cousins’ franchise tag put a $24 million dent in that. Then as the negotiating period and league year got going, they added some free agent contracts, none of them anything close to being a blockbuster deal:

Player—2017 cap charge

Terrelle Pryor—$6 million
Vernon Davis—$3.3 million
Terrell McClain—$3.7 million
D.J. Swearinger—$3.3 million
Stacy McGee—$3.2 million

They did get some cap money added back in, mostly from the retirement of Kory Lichtensteiger and yesterday’s release of Ricky Jean Francois.

After all of that, without retaining Pierre Garçon, DeSean Jackson, and Chris Baker, the Redskins have about $17.2 million in salary cap space left. The math says that they would have only $2.2 million left if they had not saved the money last year to roll over into this year. That’s about what they will need to sign their draft picks.


The need to squirrel some cash away was not hard to foresee. The organization wanted the flexibility to franchise tag Kirk Cousins again. On top of that, the structures of the contracts of Josh Norman and Trent Williams were such that each multi-year deal reaches its peak in 2017. Between those two and Cousins, the top three cap hits on the team total $59 million, 35.3 percent of the $167 million cap. That is a very top heavy structure and rolling over money from 2016 has helped them deal with it.

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They won’t end the 2017 season with that $17 million in unspent cap money. As noted, they need to spend some their draft picks. The Redskins still have to find a way to upgrade their defensive line, whether it’s from getting a recognizable player like Dontari Poe or Jonathan Hankins or with some more obscure names. They can invest some of it in contract extensions for eligible players like Spencer Long and Morgan Moses. They will want to go into the season with around $5 million to cover paying the practice squad and players on injured reserve.

As it turns out the $15 million that they rolled over was needed. They would be very tight against the cap and likely forced to restructure some contracts, a method that creates cap room in the current year by pushing money into future seasons. That creates cap problems down the road.

Tandler on Twitter

I was asked if the Redskins are interviewing any GM candidates:

In case you missed it

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.