In the Redskins and Cowboys two-sentence joint statement announcing their decision not to further contest their salary cap penalty case concluded by saying, We will continue to focus on our football teams and the 2012 season.As far as the Redskins are concerned, that means that they will have to figure out how they will go about doing business over the next two years minus 18 million in salary cap space per season. The penalty will hurt, no doubt, but it should not be crippling.As far as this year goes, the Redskins are some 3.8 million under the cap. They still have to sign their top three draft picks but even after that they will have a couple of million dollars to work with.Although under the rules teams dont need to be even a dollar under the cap, its not a good idea to go into the season with no cap room. For one thing, the salaries of players on injured reserve count towards the limit so you need to have some money set aside to cover that. And if an opportunity to sign a player who could help the team comes up, it is good to have the money set aside to be able to do that.They could create some more cap room by releasing players. The two most frequently discussed candidates for release are Chris Cooley and Santana Moss, both of whom have high cap numbers but are not expected to be starters. The team would save 3.9 million against this years cap by releasing Cooley after June 1 and 3.15 million if they cut Moss loose at that time.But they are not in a position where they are forced to cut Cooley or Moss or anybody else. Thanks to sound cap management, they were able to absorb the 18 million reduction in their cap, address at least some of their offseason free agency shopping list and re-sign key veterans such as London Fletcher.They are in good cap shape despite the penalty in part because they are only carrying about 2.9 million in dead cap space. Many teams have 10-15 million or more in dead cap and the Redskins used to be among the league leaders in dead cap annually. This means that almost every dollar of the cap is going towards compensation for players on the 2012 roster and is not on the book for players who are long gone.They also can survive the penalty because they have drafted 21 players in the past two years, the most in the NFL. In addition to bringing youthful enthusiasm to a team, draft choices are also cheap labor, especially in their first or second seasons. Having 20 or so recent draft picks on your roster always has been a good way to keep you cap total in check.Its early to look ahead to next year but it appears that the 18 million penalty will squeeze them and limit them in free agency but they should not have to release any players they do not want to let go of. Fred Davis is the only starter who is scheduled to be a free agent who might command a big contract.One source shows the Redskins with about 78 million in cap dollars committed for 2013. A lot can change there so its too early to base too much on that but it looks like they will have room to operate under a cap number that is likely to be in the 102 million range for them.The Redskins were not able to plan for getting slapped with the salary cap penalty this year as they knew nothing about it until about 24 hours before the start of free agency. But sound management prepares you for the unexpected and Bruce Allen and Eric Schaffer deserve credit for having the Redskins ready for a storm that nobody saw coming.Rich Tandler blogs about the Redskins at www.RealRedskins.com. You can reach him by email at RTandlerCSN@comcast.net and follow him on Twitter @Rich_Tandler.
If you find yourself looking for Daron Payne, Jonathan Allen, and Matt Ioannidis, you really just need to find one of them. Odds are, if you locate one, the other two will be close by.
The second-year pro, third-year pro, and fourth-year pro have forged quite a bond on the Redskins' defensive line, which is easily the team's most promising unit going into 2019. The three guys share an appreciation for lifting really heavy weights and dropping opposing quarterbacks.
As it turns out, that latter love is actually part of the inspiration behind a bet Payne, Allen and Ioannidis have queued up for the 2019 campaign. Payne revealed that while with Larry Michael on a recent episode of Redskins Nation.
"Me and Jon and Matt got a little competition right now on sacks and tackles," he said with a smile, but he ultimately didn't shed any light on what the competition's compensation will be.
Whatever the trio is playing for, it should be a close race.
Ryan Kerrigan led the 'Skins in sacks in 2018, but Allen (8), Ioannidis (7.5) and Payne (5) were second, third and fourth respectively. In terms of tackles, meanwhile, it went Allen (61), Payne (56) and then Ioannidis (31).
Allen and Payne saw a ton of snaps last year while Ioannidis was used more in a rotational role, which limited his tackles. He's an insanely productive pass rusher, though, so he can make up some ground in the sacks/tackles bet by keeping that trend going. Any of them are a solid pick if you're trying to project who'll capture their title.
Payne, for one, expects to generate better numbers in his second go-round in the league.
"Of course," he responded when Michael asked if he left some sacks out there as a rookie. "Definitely did. I want to get a couple more."
In the team's offseason practices, he's already noticed that things are "coming easier," so perhaps he'll be able to record those extra takedowns he's looking for.
As mentioned earlier, you can make an easy case for Payne, Allen or Ioannidis to win their competition, but you won't know who that winner is until late December.
One thing you can already say, however? That the QBs and running backs they'll be chasing down are the losers in this thing. That much is already known.
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Ah, NFL training camps. They're where every handoff always results in a first down, safe from refs who can ruin things with one piece of yellow cloth and home to roster sleepers.
JP Finlay came up with his post-minicamp Redskins roster projection earlier this week and has said he's already extremely confident in roughly 49 of his 53 picks. What can really throw off those kinds of projections, though, is the emergence of little-known players at training camp.
Now, trying to find the next Rob Kelley or Quinton Dunbar or Cam Sims can come off as foolish, considering Washington will bring 90 players to Richmond in late July. However, using observations from offseason practices so far and clues from what coaches are saying can narrow the list of potential preseason difference makers.
So, here are three Redskins who seem like they could seriously shake things up when the Burgundy and Gold reconvene for the summer grind.
When he's asked to critique a certain position group, Jay Gruden often does this thing where he lists every player in that group, from starter to backup to fringe option. It's hard to discern the times when he's doing that just to be polite from the times when he's doing that because each name truly is relevant.
Jeremy Reaves' name, however, has come up twice at two very different points of the spring and early summer.
Here's Gruden from after the draft, when he was asked about what the Redskins have at safety.
"We still have Montae [Nicholson]. We obviously drafted [Troy] Apke last year, which is a pretty good option. We have [Jeremy] Reaves here in the building. He's doing some good things, did some great things at the end of the year on practice squad. And Deshazor [Everett] and Landon [Collins]. So, we have five pretty good safeties."
Here's Gruden a month and a half later, after the team's last open OTA session, again addressing that secondary spot.
"Apke is doing well. It has been good to see him get a lot of these reps and work. Obviously, last year he did not get a whole lot with his hamstring, so he is progressing nicely. Everett also has picked up the slack. He has done a very good job. Reaves, he made some big plays out there today. So, those guys are taking advantage of their time."
With Collins, Nicholson, Everett and Apke, the defense should be set on the back end. Those four all feel quite locked in.
Yet Nicholson is coming off of an unpredictable second year as a pro, while Apke couldn't get healthy at all in 2018 after a hamstring issue. Perhaps Reaves, who Gruden also called an "upcoming talent" last December, can pick up the slack if either of those DBs drop off.
Sure, the path won't be easy for Reaves, but one thing's for sure: It's better to be brought up by the head coach than not, and he's being brought up relatively frequently.
Craig Reynolds is an undrafted rookie running back who played for the Golden Bears in college.
No, not the California Golden Bears. The Kutztown Golden Bears. Yes, that's a real school, and yes, it's fine if you've never heard of it.
Reynolds could be the longest longshot of the three players on this list, but guys like Kelley, Mack Brown and Marcus Mason have come from a similar level of anonymity to take fall snaps in the 'Skins backfield.
If you look at the RB depth chart, Adrian Peterson, Derrius Guice and Chris Thompson are making the 53 barring anything crazy. Bryce Love will probably hit the PUP, but he's in the franchise's plans, too.
That means Reynolds will have to compete with the likes of the quite popular Samaje Perine and Byron Marshall, but he should see plenty of action late in preseason games. He averaged more than 150 total yards per game last year at school — indeed, it was Division II, that's a very fair counterpoint — but it feels like the chances to make impressions on Gruden and Randy Jordan in precious live action will be there. It's not like Peterson or Thompson will be used that much, anyway.
Plus, if Perine starts fumbling again or Marshall gets injured as he did in 2018, Reynolds could see those chances grow. He just has to seize every one that comes his way.
Tight end feels like another position that should be simple. Jordan Reed is the star, Vernon Davis is still around despite a somewhat heavy contract and Jeremy Sprinkle is entering Year 3. If Davis or Sprinkle face any competition, you'd expect it to come from the likes of Matt Flanagan or JP Holtz.
You shouldn't ignore Daniel Parham, however. In fact, it's pretty much impossible to.
Parham signed with the 'Skins on June 7, and the 6-foot-8(!) pass catcher was on the receiving end of more than a few passes once he got going. Not surprisingly, he made the most plays in red zone situations, giving QBs like Dwayne Haskins a very appealing target to throw to.
The Stetson product probably won't add much of anything as a blocker. Remember that Gruden doesn't like using one-dimensional tight ends, so that could hurt him. Going off that, some scouting services even think he'd be best served lining up consistently in the slot.
Regardless, you just don't see many people at his size running downfield routes, and his potential is noticeable. A few preseason highlights on jump balls could help him stick around past August.
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