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Redskins offseason questions: Will there be a surprise salary cap cut?

Redskins offseason questions: Will there be a surprise salary cap cut?

The good news for the 2016 Redskins was that they didn’t collapse after winning the division the previous season as has been their pattern in the past. The bad news was that they didn’t take the next step and improve from a franchise that can compete to make the playoffs into one that is playing multiple postseason games year in and year out. That work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players.

In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will examine the biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.

More offseason questions: What are resonable expectations for Josh Doctson?

Will the Redskins have a surprise salary cap cut?

Finlay: The answer to this question is almost always yes. 2017 could be a bit different since the Redskins are so far under the salary cap, but after the draft and free agency, it's safe to expect one at least mild surprise by the time the team gets to Richmond. 

Last season, Perry Riley and Stephen Paea took the salary cap cut. One obvious example of a potential salary cap casualty would be DeAngelo Hall, who is set to make $5 million in 2017. The team could save $4 million if Hall is gone, but the veteran already acknowledged he is willing to rework his deal considering his lengthy recent run of injuries. If Washington can change the terms of Hall's contract, an outright cap cut could be avoided. 

Elsewhere on the roster some will wonder about left guard Shawn Lauvao's future with the 'Skins. Lauvao dealt with injuries in 2016, and even healthy, didn't always play up to expectations. Lauvao's deal looks similar to Hall's in 2017; he's slated to make $5 million, though if released the team would save the team $4 million under the cap. 

Tandler: 

The problem with trying to identify a surprise cap cut is that the Redskins don’t have many players with high cap numbers. When you look at the list of the biggest cap hits and through the top players, guys who aren’t going anywhere like Josh Norman, Trent Williams, and Brandon Scherff, you get to the names that JP mentioned like Hall and Lauvao. On a team with over $60 million in cap space and a cap in the neighborhood of $170 million any other cuts would save relatively little money.

But a few million bucks is a few million bucks and if you can replace a higher-priced veteran with a minimum wage rookie you have to think about it. If I’m Ricky Jean Francois I’m keeping an eye on free agency and the draft. If they sign one or two free agent linemen and draft one or two more the team could look to save $3 million by moving on from him. Francois is a great locker room presence but at age 30 he could be replaced by someone younger and cheaper.

I also think we may have seen the last of Niles Paul in a Redskins uniform. He ended each of the last two seasons on injured reserve and they may choose to move on from him rather than paying his $2 million combined salary and roster bonus.

Don’t look for the Redskins to be in any hurry to make cuts. With players like Lauvao and Francois they could wait until OTAs or even training camp to make sure they have solid alternatives before moving on. 

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Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Eight months later, Alex Smith has external fixator removed from injured leg

Eight months later, Alex Smith has external fixator removed from injured leg

It's been a long road to recovery for Redskins quarterback Alex Smith after suffering a gruesome leg injury against the Houston Texans last November.

Following the original break, Smith's injury became infected, requiring more surgery and for him to wear an external fixator on his injured leg, a large metal, circular device that ran from his knee down to his foot with metal screws to hold bones in place.

Smith had been wearing the fixator for the past eight months, but on Monday, the brace was finally removed. Smith's wife, Elizabeth, posted on her Instagram account a picture of Smith holding the recently removed metal device.

"The last 8 months have been nothing short of crazy," Elizabeth Smith wrote on her Instagram. "Although it’s not over, today is a big milestone. We are shedding the weight Alex has been carrying (literally and figuratively). It’s one step closer to the goal. The resilience, determination and mental fortitude of this man is unmatched."

This is a major step in Smith's recovery process, as he still hopes to play football again.

"That's the plan," Smith said to NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay of returning to the field. "I got to conquer some more steps before I get there."

But first, he must learn how to run and change direction again.

Earlier this summer, Smith was seen throwing passes at Redskins OTAs. He most certainly won't play in 2020, and his future on Washington has a lot to do with the success of rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins, the Redskins first-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

While Smith won't help the Redskins on the field, don't be surprised if Smith has a positive role in the development of Haskins. A team captain in 2018, many of his teammates have praised Smith of the leadership he displayed a season ago.

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10 Days to training camp: How to sort out the defensive line rotation?

10 Days to training camp: How to sort out the defensive line rotation?

The Redskins report to training camp on July 24th, and for the next 10 days, JP Finlay will count down the 10 biggest questions the Redskins face going into the 2019 season.

On a team with few definitive strengths, the defensive line ranks as easily the best position group on the 2019 Redskins.

The team boasts two first-rounders in Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen. The team also just paid fourth-year pro Matt Ioannidis, giving him a contract extension to lock him up before free agency next year. After that, this year there are expectations that Tim Settle and Caleb Brantley should play expanded roles.

And in many ways, that has to happen.

Allen and Payne played too much last season, especially early. In a Week 4 win against the Packers, Payne and Allen played more than 90 percent of the Redskins' defensive snaps. In a Week 5 loss to the Saints, both players were on the field for more than 75 percent of the team's snaps.

Keep in mind, too, Payne was a rookie and Allen was in his second NFL season after only playing a handful of games as a rookie. In hindsight, the Redskins needed to deploy more of a rotation along the defensive line in 2018, and in 2019, would be crazy not to.

Payne and Allen both have Pro Bowl potential. Ioannidis has proven elite pass rush potential when he's on the field and needs to be on the field more. Then there are Settle and Brantley, two players that Redskins coaches have praised extensively this offseason.

The best defensive lines have talent and depth. The Redskins definitely have talent. Payne, Allen, and Ioannidis prove that.

The Redskins need to have depth. A fresh defensive line, or even a less beat up defensive line, can make a huge difference in the second half of the season. Jim Tomsula says the Redskins have the talent to go deep in their linemen rotation.
In 2019, the team needs to show it.

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