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Need to Know: Looking ahead—Redskins' 2018 cap room not as ample as it looks

Need to Know: Looking ahead—Redskins' 2018 cap room not as ample as it looks

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, July 11, 16 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 191 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 61 days.

Days until:

—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/17) 6
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 30
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 53

The Redskins’ 2018 cap situation is somewhat deceptive

It is the season for looking into the future, both to the 2017 season and beyond. 

Today, we’re going to take a look at the Redskins’ salary cap situation in 2018. Unless otherwise noted, cap data is from Over the Cap.

The Redskins currently have $54.7 million in cap space in 2018, based on a projected cap of $178 million. The actual cap may come in a few million dollars higher or lower and the Redskins could make some moves that would affect next year’s cap, such as signing a player to an extension this year. But that’s a good estimate to work with for right now.

That sounds like a good amount of cap room and, on the surface, it is. Only five teams have more cap room. But the devil is in the details and there are plenty of devils to consider when looking at the Redskins’ cap situation.

In the macro view, the Redskins won’t be as well off compared to the rest of the league when unused cap space from 2017 is rolled over into 2018. Washington will have about $5 million to roll over. That will help but that is a pittance compared to the $65 million the 49ers will have to roll over. That will push them from having less cap space than the Redskins to having about $60 million more.

The Browns ($50 million to roll over), Jaguars ($44 million), Titans ($41 million), and others will have more to work with than Washington. When other teams add in their rollovers the Redskins will be more in the middle of the pack in available space.

Turning to the roster and the players under contract in 2018, the Redskins will have plenty of needs they will need to fill with that cap space. Quarterback tops the list. We’ll know better how this looks after Kirk Cousins’ contract deadline next Monday but it’s safe to say that if he is on the roster he will take up a considerable amount of that $60 million.

The Redskins could decide to move on from Cousins next year and go with Colt McCoy ($3.6 million 2018 cap charge) and Nate Sudfeld ($664,000). Their salaries already are included in the 2018 calculation. But they have many needs beyond quarterback.

As of now, they have 21 players slated to be unrestricted free agents. Of these, seven are projected starters and seven others will have key roles this season. They will be able to fill some of these spots relatively inexpensively in the draft and in some cases players who are currently on the roster may be poised to step up. But it will cost, whether they re-sign their own free agents to fill the holes or if they have to find help from other rosters. (Note: A post listing 2018 free agents coming later this week)

All of this does not mean that the Redskins will be in any version of salary cap hell. They should be able to fill their needs even if they are paying Cousins (or another QB) top dollar. If they get into a pinch they can create more space by cutting some veterans (although there aren’t any who would create major savings) or by restructuring some contracts. But no fan should see $60 million in cap space and think that the Redskins are sitting pretty. A lot of that money is, in essence, gone.

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

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In case you missed it

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If Luke Kuechly wants to coach, would Ron Rivera hire him for the Redskins?

If Luke Kuechly wants to coach, would Ron Rivera hire him for the Redskins?

One of the best linebackers of the last decade, Luke Kuechly retired from football this week in a move that stunned many. For years Kuechly has dealt with injuries, including multiple concussions, and decided his body could not withstand anymore life in the NFL. 

Or at least being on the field. 

A new NFL Network report suggested that Kuechly could be looking to stay in the game in a coaching or consulting role, and that it could happen this season. 

"I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Luke Kuechly in the NFL. As a player we have," Mike Garafolo said on Good Morning Football.

The natural question for Redskins fans becomes if Kuechly could land in Washington. New Redskins coach Ron Rivera was with the Panthers when the team drafted Kuechly ninth overall in 2012, and the duo worked closely together. It's been widely reported that Kuechly and Rivera have a strong relationship too. 

When Kuechly announced his retirement, Rivera took to Twitter to compare the linebacker to Hall of Famers Mike Singletary and Brian Urlacher. Rivera also said he "will remember Luke’s sense of humor, his leadership & 4 being a great teammate."

The Redskins recently announced their assistant coaches and linebackers coach Steve Russ worked with Kuechly for the past two seasons in Carolina. There is no assistant linebackers coach on the staff, but that's a role that could be created. There are few rules about assistant coaches in the NFL; for example, last season the Redskins employed an inside linebackers coach and an outside linebackers coach because they played a 3-4 system. This year the team will play the 4-3. 

It's unclear what role Kuechly would want, and while the connection to Rivera is obvious, so is the connection to Carolina. 

"Certainly the Panthers would love to have him be a part of their organization in some capacity," Garafolo said. 

What happens next for Kuechly remains unknown. He just retired from football a few days ago. He might need time to make his next series of decisions. 

Based on Rivera's actions so far as the new Redskins boss, however, it would not be a surprise at all if the head coach tries to get Kuechly to Washington. Rivera has hired just about everyone else that was with the Panthers in the last decade; why not add one more?

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Jason Garrett reportedly to stay in NFC East, becomes Giants offensive coordinator

Jason Garrett reportedly to stay in NFC East, becomes Giants offensive coordinator

Former Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett has agreed to become the new offensive coordinator of the New York Giants, according to a report from ESPN

He will join the staff of first-year head coach Joe Judge.

Garrett was recently let go after a 10-year unimpressive stint with the Dallas Cowboys. In that span, he only led the team to three playoff appearances and with that two playoff wins. 

The team underperformed in 2019 after starting the season with Super Bowl aspirations. Stumbling to an 8-8 record, It became clear that Garrett was the not the answer at head coach. Following the end of the regular season, the team decided to go in another direction replacing him with former Packers coach Mike McCarthy.

The Princeton alum led the Cowboys to an 85-67 overall record during his tenure in Dallas.

As a former backup QB for the Giants (2000-03) and Cowboys (1993-99), he has an extensive background in game-planning against the NFC East.

Judge was named head coach on Jan. 7 after spending eight seasons with the Patriots. He was promoted to special teams coordinator in 2015, and also became the team's wide receiver coach in 2019.

Garrett and Judge will be tasked with developing a young roster with some intriguing options at their disposal, as well as the No. 4 overall pick in April's draft.

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