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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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Jalen Ramsey has requested a trade. And Landon Collins has made public appeals to him before

Jalen Ramsey has requested a trade. And Landon Collins has made public appeals to him before

The Jacksonville Jaguars 2019 regular season has not gone according to plan.

In Week 1 against the Kansas City Chiefs, starting quarterback Nick Foles broke his clavicle and was placed on IR, and following a Week 2 loss to the Houston Texans, the team's star defensive back Jalen Ramsey has reportedly requested a trade.

Ramsey and head coach Doug Marrone got into it verbally during the loss to Houston and according to multiple reports, the fractured relationship could expedite a potential trade.

The Jaguars are reportedly asking for at least one first-round pick in return for the two-time Pro Bowl cornerback.

It's worth noting that Ramsey's agent, David Mulugheta, also represents Redskins Dwayne Haskins and Landon Collins. Collins tweeted at Ramsey back in April, jokingly recruiting Ramsey to D.C. after Jaguars' VP of Football Operations Tom Coughlin called out Ramsey for missing voluntary offseason workouts and the latter responded

Ramsey, who was the fifth pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, is currently looking for a new contract. He is currently in the fourth year of his rookie deal and the Jaguars have picked up his fifth-year option in 2020.

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Jay Gruden address comments that he doesn't like AP's running style: 'You want north-south running backs'

Jay Gruden address comments that he doesn't like AP's running style: 'You want north-south running backs'

In the early stages of Sunday's Redskins-Cowboys clash, FOX Sports' Pam Oliver dropped a bombshell on the broadcast.

"Jay Gruden, to be perfectly clear, he is still not in favor of Peterson's strength, which is a north-south running style," Oliver said. "He feels like it limits the offense and gives the defense way too many opportunities."

If true, that helps explain the decision the Redskins head coach made prior to Week 1, making the 34-year-old and future Hall of Fame running back a healthy scratch for the first time in his career.

What it doesn't explain is the reasoning behind it. Peterson, who was signed just a couple of weeks prior to the 2018 season, ran for over 1,000 yards for the Burgundy and Gold a season ago, earning the team's Offensive Most Valuable Player award.

In an exclusive one-on-one interview with Gruden, NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay asked the head coach about Oliver's comments.

Gruden refuted the claim. 

"You want north-south running backs. I don’t think you want east-west backs, that’s for sure," Gruden said. "[Peterson] is a north-south runner....when he gets going north-south, what that does is creates a physical mentality for our offense. Our linemen love it, and it opens up our play-action passes. We do love north-south backs.”

What the fifth-year head coach did touch on, however, is the limited amount of plays that the offense can run with Peterson is in the game. That could explain the origin of where Oliver's comments came from. 

"[Peterson] is a north-south runner," Gruden said. "What that does, sometimes, ya know it’s hard when he’s in the game, like yesterday we were in 11 personnel and they but base on the field and said ‘heck you’re just not going to run it’ and you know we had to throw it." 

It's no secret that Gruden prefers a running back that can be involved in the passing game as well. While Peterson has improved in that facet, the Redskins other options -- Chris Thompson, Wendell Smallwood, and even the injured Derrius Guice -- are currently better pass-catching backs.

Of the Redskins 62 offensive snaps, Thompson, the best pass-catching running back of the bunch, was the one who played the most. Peterson played just 18 snaps, 29 percent of the team's offensive plays.

The flow of the game also could have affected this, as the Redskins found themselves trailing for the majority of the afternoon. 

Still, Gruden insists that there's a role for Peterson in the offense.

"You know, he played last year and had a thousand yards, so..." he said.

Regardless of who the running back has been for the Burgundy and Gold thus far in 2019, they largely have been ineffective.

Against Philadelphia, Guice mustered just 18 rushing yards on 10 carries. Peterson received the same amount of carries in Week 2 vs. Dallas and didn't perform much better. Sure, he found the end zone, but was not a factor otherwise, rushing for a total of just 25 yards.

Through the first two games, the Redskins have been outrushed 336-75. That is not a winning formula by any means.

When asked why the rushing attack has been so poor in 2019, Gruden couldn't point to one specific reason.

"Combination of things," Gruden said. "Philadelphia, we tried to run the ball in the second half and we had a negative play and a holding penalty. You know, there are things that take you out of the running game, and then you lose the lead and you have to try and play a little bit faster, play a little bit of catch up and you aren’t able to run the ball. So, we haven’t been able to stick with the run for four quarters and we haven’t had enough production out of the running game."

That must change immediately, starting next Monday against Chicago, if the Redskins want to turn their season around. Gruden is confident that it will.

"We had a couple of good hits, AP had a couple of good hits [Sunday] against Dallas, we can build off of that," he said. "But I also think that when you have a new left tackle and a new left guard coming in for the first time and you have the tight end issues we’ve had a little bit, I think we’ll get there."

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