Quick Links

Redskins’ problem—free agency isn’t free

Redskins’ problem—free agency isn’t free

With the release of Marcus Washington the Washington Redskins saved $4 million in salary cap space. That, combined with the restructures done by Antwaan Randle El and Andre Carter and the voiding of Phillip Daniels' contract (confirmed yesterday by LaCanfora) puts the Redskins right around the $123 million cap limit. They have to be under that limit by midnight next Friday, February 27.

If they are under that limit, it won't be by much and that's the problem for those who have visions of Albert Haynesworth dancing in their heads. While the Redskins have been very creative in doing a lot with a little cap space, their creativity will be severely hampered this offseason.

Even if they release both Jason Taylor and Shawn Springs, moves that Jim Zorn said he doesn't want to make, they would be right around $10 million under the cap. That's a lot of money in the real world but in the world of the NFL salary cap it's chump change. The team needs to set aside money for the rookie pool (this hasn't been finalized but it will be in the neighborhood of $2-$3 million) and a couple of million to replace players who wind up on injured reserve. Five million or so doesn't get you very far in the NFL free agent market these days, not when the median number is $19 million under and several teams such as Tampa Bay, Denver, and Arizona are over $40 million under.

Many of the restructure techniques that the Redskins have used to create cap space out of thin air in the past are unavailable to them. That's because there are restrictions on how much a players' compensation can go up going into an uncapped year. Since 2010 is scheduled to be uncapped they can't cut a player's cap number this year through bonus conversions because it would go up too much next year to be legal under the collective bargaining agreement.

Another problem is that the team ends up dealing from a position of weakness when it is desperate to make deals to get under the cap. Virtually any other NFL team would be telling Jon Jansen and his $5 million cap hit that escalates to over $8 million in each of the next two years thanks for the memories right now. But because they had to redo his contract to create cap space a couple of years ago, when he already was in decline, and they had to guarantee him a bunch of money in the process, they would take a cap hit in excess of $6 million if they released him. So the Redskins are stuck with a lineman who is well past his prime but who is taking up the cap space of a perennial All Pro.

In short, the pigeons are coming home to roost. They have the triple whammy of eating a high cap number for a player who is taking up a roster spot that could be used for a younger, developmental player and they can't afford to do anything about it.

It doesn't look like those redone contracts signed by Carter and Randle El are quite as ugly down the road as is Jansen's, but pushing back a few million here and a few million there adds up to some real money at some point. And this year it's adding up to a season where the Redskins are right up against the cap and wearing handcuffs.

Both Cerrato and Zorn have said that the Redskins are going to be active in free agency. I've been active in trying to find a Sony 52" plasma TV and a blow-the-windows-out surround sound system and I can't find those items at a price that will fit my budget. Zorn and Cerrato are likely to find themselves under similar constraints come Friday.

Quick Links

As injuries linger at WR, Jay Gruden believes a trade might help Redskins

As injuries linger at WR, Jay Gruden believes a trade might help Redskins

The Dallas Cowboys traded for Amari Cooper on Monday, and with that, alarms go off around the NFL that it's wheeling and dealing season. The trade deadline hits in one week, and for teams looking to bolster their squad before the second half of the year, it's time to see what areas could improve. 

For Redskins head coach Jay Gruden, the injury situation at wide receiver means that his team could use help at the position. 

"We could probably use one more there if we could," Gruden said Monday on the Redskins Talk podcast. 

Asked if there was one area the team could bolster via trade, the coach explained that if wideouts Jamison Crowder or Paul Richardson could come back from injury right away, the Redskins would have no need to trade for another receiver. Unfortunately for the Redskins, neither injury situation is very clear, and some reports show that Crowder could miss a few more weeks working back from an ankle injury. 

"I think if you look at our team right now with the injuries to Crowder and obviously the uncertainty with Richardson you might want to add another receiver, but I like what [Michael] Floyd’s done coming in here," Gruden said. 

Floyd had one catch for 20 yards in the Redskins win on Sunday over the Cowboys, but he's a physical veteran that has the coach excited. Gruden also complimented what Maurice Harris and Brian Quick have done in the absence of Richardson and Crowder.

While the Cowboys struck first in the receiver trade market, more players remain reportedly available, including Broncos WR Demaryius Thomas and Dolphins WR DeVante Parker. 

Thomas is a five-time Pro Bowler in Denver, but at 30 years old and with some trade value, it makes sense for John Elway to consider his market. The Broncos are 3-4 and have an underperforming offense. 

Parker was a first-round pick in 2015 but has not had a 1,000-yard season in Miami. Making matters more complicated, Parker's agent Jimmy Gould called Dolphins head coach Adam Gase "incompetent" to a host of different media outlets. Parker has only been active twice this season though he contends health is not an issue. 

Gruden remains confident that 2016 first-round pick Josh Doctson will get going, and he is a similar big target as Thomas and Parker. Should Richardson miss significant time, the Redskins would lack a true speed threat.

There's certainly no clear indication that Washington will make a move before the NFL trade deadline, but as things stand now with injuries, there is a need. Remember, too, the Redskins are long on 2019 draft picks with 10 selections in seven rounds.



Quick Links

A day after loss to Redskins, Cowboys trade for Raiders WR Amari Cooper

USA Today Sports

A day after loss to Redskins, Cowboys trade for Raiders WR Amari Cooper

The Dallas Cowboys are in desperate need of a playmaking wide receiver. The lack of talent at wide receiver has been evident throughout the first seven weeks of the 2018 NFL season, with wide receivers accounting for just five of the Cowboys' eight passing touchdowns.

Following the 20-17 loss to the Redskins on Sunday, the Cowboys decided to make a quick fix, trading a 2019 first-round pick to the Oakland Raiders in exchange for star wide receiver Amari Cooper, according to multiple reports.

Cooper, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, has just 22 catches for 280 yards and one touchdown in the first six games. The former Alabama star had an equally disappointing 2017 campaign and has grown frustrated with his role in John Gruden's new regime.

Cooper will instantly become the Cowboys best deep threat and will allow Cole Beasley to shine both in the slot and spread out wide. Beasley leads the Cowboys with 33 receptions for 350 yards and two touchdowns.

Rookie Michael Gallup, who scored the Cowboys' only passing touchdown against the Redskins, has the second most targets among Dallas receivers, hauling in 10 of his 22 targets for 190 yards. Tight end Geoff Swaim has 19 catches for 205 yards and running back Ezekiel Elliott has 25 catches for 175 yards.

Prescott is averaging just 202.2 passing yards per game, and while Cooper may not be a true top-tier wide receiver, he is the next best thing and will allow the offense to be more dynamic in its play-calling.

Cooper will make an estimated $13.9 million in base salary in 2019, meaning the Cowboys will have to pay a pretty penny to keep him.

The move makes it clear that the Raiders are shifting toward a full rebuild. It also shows that Dallas understands it didn't have enough firepower to compete for a divisional title.