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Need to Know: Washington Redskins' cap space dwindling but they have some options

Need to Know: Washington Redskins' cap space dwindling but they have some options

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, March 12, 37 days before Washington Redskins start offseason workouts on April 17.  

Timeline

Days until:

—NFL Draft (4/27) 46
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 73
—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/15) 125
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 182

Redskins’ cap space dwindling but more can be created

The Redskins have not gone after any big names in the opening few days of free agency but they are getting a little low on cap space.

The biggest chunk of cap space was consumed by Kirk Cousins’ $23.9 million franchise tag. That counted against the cap from the moment it was applied. When Cousins signed it on Friday it became fully guaranteed.

The Redskins have signed five unrestricted free agents including one of their own in Vernon Davis. They also tendered two restricted free agents. Will Compton got the low tender while Chris Thompson got a tender that would trigger a second-round pick as compensation if the Redskins chose not to match an offer sheet.

Here are the 2017 cap charges of those free agents:

Terrelle Pryor $6 million
Terrell McClain $3.7 million
Vernon Davis $3.3 million
D.J. Swearinger $3.3 million
Stacy McGee $3.2 million
Chris Thompson $2.7 million
Will Compton $1.8 million

This leaves the Redskins with $14.3 million in cap space. They probably need to set aside $5 million to sign a defensive lineman such as Bennie Logan, who visited yesterday. A team wants to plan on have around $5 million in cap space going into the season to cover players on injured reserve and practice squad salaries. The also will need about $2 million to sign their draft picks (for guidance on how they will be able to sign about 10 players with $2 million in net cap space see this from last year) That leaves them with about $2.3 million to work with.

If they want some additional flexibility they do have options. If they sign another defensive lineman they would have to look hard at the $3 million they could save by moving on from Ricky Jean Francois. It seems that regardless of any other moves they will either release safety DeAngelo Hall, saving $4.25 million or negotiate a reduction in his $4.25 million salary.

There has been talk of moving on from guard Shawn Lauvao, a move that would save $4 million. But the organization may be hesitant to do that until they have a solid replacement for him. He may or may not be around in Week 1 but if they move on from it it likely will be during OTAs at the earliest and perhaps during training camp. 

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 5.0

The biggest chunk of savings could come from changing Cousins’ franchise tag into a long-term deal. The prospects for being able to strike a deal are very uncertain but if they do manage to get one done a contract possibility outlined here would reduce Cousins’ cap hit to $15 million, creating $9 million in cap space.

The Redskins don’t like to restructure contracts, deals that give players with large salaries some or all their money up front, converting their salaries to signing bonuses, and pushing some of the cap charges into future seasons.

For example, they could restructure Trent Williams’ deal and cut him a check for most of his $11.25 million salary and convert it to signing bonus. That would save them about $8 million but it would increase his cap number by about $2.5 million in each of the three remaining years of his contract. Again, they don’t like to do it but it is a tool that is available to them should an emergency or opportunity arise.

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Josh Norman wants to play 'early Santa,' will give away Redskins tickets

Josh Norman wants to play 'early Santa,' will give away Redskins tickets

Josh Norman caused quite a stir with his comments Sunday about the atmosphere at FedEx Field, and the Redskins cornerback made it clear he plans to do his part in making sure the stadium is packed for Sunday's game against the Texans. 

Norman told reporters Thursday he's going to be giving away "40 or 50" free tickets for the Houston game, online and perhaps even in person.

"Yes, I will be giving out free tickets," he said. "I'll be doing it on my socials as well, I think I'll probably post tonight or something about it."

"Who knows, you may see me coming out and being an early Santa somewhere in the mall or something, just handing out tickets."

And if you are one of the lucky fans who gets a ticket from "Santa Norman," he has specific instructions on how you should behave at Sunday's game:

"Whoever get(s) them, we want them loud and just obnoxious. Just really obnoxious."

Norman joins several Redskins players who have promised to give away tickets to the Texans game.

It may be November, but the Christmas spirit is alive and well at Redskins Park. 

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A Madden ratings performance adjustor explains what goes into the job that everyone's jealous of

A Madden ratings performance adjustor explains what goes into the job that everyone's jealous of

Even on a field filled with NFL players, experienced coaches and a few celebrities, Clint Oldenburg stood out. 

It wasn’t because of his stature or that he used to play pro football, either.

It was due to his jacket.

A jacket, which led to a photo, which led to a tweet, which led to unexpected Internet fame, all thanks to the four words written on Oldenburg’s back: “Madden Ratings Performance Adjustor.”

Oldenburg was spending Week 9 at FedEx Field, sent by EA Sports to get more information on Adrian Peterson at that afternoon’s Redskins-Falcons game. The future Hall of Famer is in the middle of a comeback season, so Oldenburg was charged with checking in on him.

4.5 million Twitter impressions later, Oldenburg now knows that countless people are supremely jealous of his weekend vocation.

"I wasn’t really engaging on my cell phone during the game, and then when I was catching my cab to the airport after the game I looked at it and said, ‘Holy crap,’” he said in a recent phone interview.

"I was in shock as to what was happening.”

A fifth-round pick of the Patriots in 2007, Oldenburg also had brief stints with the Jets and a few others, including the Redskins. These days, he spends Monday-Friday working to make Madden’s gameplay better.

But he’s also a part of the Ratings Adjustor team, a small group of evaluators who travel to stadiums, observe players and submit their notes to a fellow employee. That primary analyst takes their notes into account and then has the final say on every player’s precious overall rating, which can fluctuate with each Madden update. 

Now, you may find the idea of sending someone to the site of a matchup to do this gig a bit preposterous. But according to Oldenburg, being there in-person does make a major difference.

"The benefits of the sideline really are for pregame,” he explained. “Just seeing how guys are working in pregame, getting a close-up view of their actual athletic skills, their footwork.”

Oldenburg also likes the “better perspective” he gets once the action kicks off. For example, while focusing on Peterson during the Burgundy and Gold’s loss to Atlanta, he felt like No. 26 missed some cutback lanes, something Oldenburg always finds himself paying attention to thanks to his days battling along the line.

Much like the thousands of social media users who shared various reactions about his job, players take an interest in him as well.

While in Landover, kicker Dustin Hopkins found Oldenburg on the sideline and passed along a request: That day, the team was planning on kicking off short as opposed to through the end zone, so Hopkins wanted to make sure his kick power wouldn't be decreased. 

"They wanna come talk about what we’re doing,” Oldenburg said about the athletes he’s tasked with grading. "Information like that is always valuable."

After his playing career wrapped up, Oldenburg jumped into an internship working on the video game that he loved growing up. “Everything took off” after that 10-week program, and he’s been enjoying it ever since.

"I always had to scratch and claw for everything I got,” he said near the end of the call. "I wanted to find a career that I knew I’d be happy doing.”

In the end, he landed in a career that makes him happy. And as one viral tweet showed, plenty of others would be happy in his role too. 

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