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Redskins salary cap outlook: Would a Cousins contract be a cap killer for the Redskins?

Redskins salary cap outlook: Would a Cousins contract be a cap killer for the Redskins?

The Redskins have found their offensive and defensive coordinators and they are ready to get on with the business portion of the offseason. The big question between now and the middle of March is how they will divvy up their $62 million in cap space. Here we’ll take a position-by-position look at the cap situation and explore some of the Redskins’ options. 

Cap info via www.OverTheCap.com

The Redskins currently have these quarterbacks under contract.

—Colt McCoy, 2017 cap hit $3.6 million, under contract through 2018
—Nate Sudfeld, $574,334, through 2019

Free agent: Kirk Cousins

RELATED: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Couins contract and more

Notes:

—We’ll look at the Cousins situation below.  

—McCoy is in the second year of a three-year, $9 million contract he signed last year. His salary is $2.8 million this year and in 2018. The last year of the contract will void f he plays more than 65 percent of the snaps this year. What that means is that if Cousins either isn’t here or is unavailable and McCoy starts enough games he will be a free agent in 2018

—Sudfeld is in the second year of his four-year rookie contract.  

Positional spending

2016: $22.8 million, 8th in NFL
2017: $2.8 million, 29th in NFL

Adding and subtracting:

Do the Redskins keep Cousins and if they do how do they do it?

The franchise tag option is simple. If Cousins gets tagged his salary would be 120 percent of his 2016 cap number of $19.94 million. That comes to $23.93 million.

The percentage multiplier comes into play because a player getting tagged gets either the tag salary, which is around $21 million for quarterbacks this year, or 120 percent of his previous season cap number, whichever is higher. Cousins makes out better with the multiplier so that would be his salary.

The salary is fully guaranteed when Cousins signs the tender and the entire amount counts against the current salary cap.

RELATED: #RedskinsTalk Podcast - It's tag day

It should be noted that the exclusive tag, which would not allow Cousins to negotiate with other teams, likely would cost the same as the non-exclusive tag due to the 120 percent rule.

What if the Redskins sign Cousins to a contract? While the details are important, for the sake of seeing how much salary cap a Cousins contract might consume, we can look at some possible annual cap numbers. Using the contract extension that Andrew Luck signed a year ago as a guideline and adjust the numbers downward about $2 million per year, here are some possible cap hits for a $22 million per year Cousins contract and how much of the cap the contract will consume with an estimated annual cap increase of eight percent.

2017 cap hit $17.4 million, 12.1% of cap
2018 $22.4 million, 12.3%
2019 $25.5 million, 13.0%
2020 $26.4 million, 12.5%
2021 $19 million, 8.4%

The cap numbers are the estimated $168 million this year and projected increases of eight percent per year after that would have the cap numbers at $181 million, $195 million, $210 million, and $226 million in 2021. It should be noted that the CBA expires after the 2020 season so the cap structure could change.

Since the Redskins have a lot of cap room this year they could choose to structure the deal to have more of the money hit the cap in 2017 and reduce the impact later on to give them more flexibility.

Certainly, paying 12 to 13 percent of your available salary cap space to a player to represents 1.9 percent of the players on the roster (1 of 53) make things a little more difficult. It would mean that the Redskins would have to draft well and get productive snaps out of players who are on their rookie contracts. They also need to pick and choose some of their draft picks to extend when the time is right. A few other players can have big contracts but obviously, the number must be limited.

More Redskins: Will the Redskins keep Garçon?

If they put the tag on Cousins and then trade him and go with McCoy and Sudfeld at quarterback, they will have about $64 million in cap space to work with. They would be smart to put some of that aside for the future since at some point the organization is going to have to pay a quarterback big money and figure out how to assemble the rest of the team.  

If the Redskins sign Cousins to a deal similar to the example above, they would still have $47 million in cap space and the ability to create about $10 million more with releases and renegotiations plus nine draft picks to try to improve last year’s team. That is not a bare cupboard for the organization to work with.

Salary cap outlook series

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

 

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5 questions facing the Redskins as the Case Keenum/Dwayne Haskins QB battle begins

5 questions facing the Redskins as the Case Keenum/Dwayne Haskins QB battle begins

The Redskins have a quarterback battle. Repeat, the Redskins have a quarterback battle. This is not a drill. It is an open competition. 

When the team gathers in Ashburn on Monday for offseason training activities, it will be the first time that veteran passer Case Keenum and first-round rookie Dwayne Haskins will be on the field at the same time. Incumbent backup QB Colt McCoy should be present as well, but not active as he works back from multiple leg surgeries this offseason. 

The team has plenty of questions for the 2019 season, and the answers will start coming as early as this week. No question is bigger than the signal caller though.

  1. QB Battle - Every major factor in the Redskins organization has been clear that Haskins will get a chance to compete for the starting job. That means every throw between Keenum, the presumed starter after the 'Skins traded for him in February, and the Ohio State rookie will be over analyzed. If McCoy was healthy, he would have a jump start in the competition because he knows head coach Jay Gruden's offense. McCoy isn't healthy though, and that means more reps and work for Keenum and Haskins. This battle will be ongoing throughout the summer, but on Monday with the media present, it will be very interesting to see what player gets more work with the first-team offense.
  2. Who's still hurt - Speaking of the first-team offense, a number of players will be working back from offseason surgery. Will Paul Richardson be out there? Trent Williams? How healthy is Jordan Reed, and what about Derrius Guice? Brandon Scherff? There are a lot  of questions, and some of them will be answered simply by seeing guys run around. Second-year wideouts Cam Sims and Trey Quinn both finished the 2018 season on the injured reserve; will they be ready to go? There are a lot of people to watch out for. 
  3. STARTING DEFENSE (LATIMER VOICE*) - Landon Collins was the prize of free agency, and Monday he will be on the field barking directions at teammates. How will he fit in with Josh Norman, and how does Quinton Dunbar look? When Dunbar went down with a leg nerve injury last season, the Washington defense fell apart. If he is all the way back would be big news for Greg Manusky's defense. There's also Reuben Foster. This will be the first time for the media to see Foster on the field in a Redskins uniform after his controversial acquisition last November. Presumably Foster will answer questions after the OTA session, stay tuned for that.
  4. Camp is over for the rookies - Beyond Haskins, the Redskins have nine other draft picks taking part in OTAs. The rookies went through their own private minicamp last week, but this will be quite different. Rookie minicamp is about letting the new players get acclimated to the new facility and team; OTAs are about real work. Will Montez Sweat take the field with the Redskins first-team defense? What about the two rookie receivers in Terry McLaurin and Kelvin Harmon? There will be hiccups for the rookies, that's inevitable, but now is the time to prove they belong. With all the injuries on the offensive line, Wes Martin has the inside track on a starting job. 
  5. Absent, but not hurt - Never forget that OTAs are voluntary for players, and usually a handful of guys don't show up. That will likely happen tomorrow and some fans might react negatively. Don't be one of them. 

* If you don't get that reference, go watch The Program. 

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How did the Redskins end up as the favorites to be featured on Hard Knocks?

How did the Redskins end up as the favorites to be featured on Hard Knocks?

There's a solid formula to land on the HBO series Hard Knocks, and a rookie quarterback can play a big role. Last year, HBO picked the Cleveland Browns, and much of that was to showcase No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield. Three years ago, HBO did the same thing with the Rams and Jared Goff. 

This year, the No. 1 overall pick landed on a team that can't be shown on Hard Knocks, as Kyler Murray will play for new coach Kliff Kingsbury in Arizona. Teams with coaching changes are ineligible for the show, as are teams that made the playoffs the previous season. 

Well, the Redskins didn't make the playoffs last year and didn't make a coaching change. What other QBs were taken in the first round?

The New York Giants took Daniel Jones with the sixth pick, and the Redskins took Dwayne Haskins at 15. 

Hmmm.

For years, the idea of the Redskins on Hard Knocks seemed far fetched. Team president Bruce Allen is not particularly fond of the media or inside access for television cameras. Allen comes by that honestly, his father Hall of Fame coach George Allen liked to practice in complete secrecy. Like father, like son. And as much as HBO and the NFL can force a team to do Hard Knocks, if the team doesn't want to be a part of it, the access can be very limited. 

So, has that changed? Maybe. 

Oddsmakers have established the Redskins as the betting favorite to land on the show, with the Oakland Raiders and the Giants just behind them. Both the 'Skins and Giants have rookie QBs, but the reception around each rookie has been quite different. While generally, Washington fans are very excited about Haskins, the New York crowd seems non-pleased with Jones. 

The NFL rarely does things that upset the Giants, and in an offseason of turmoil for Big Blue, it's hard to see the team wanting the increased scrutiny of the documentary show. Between trading Odell Beckham, drafting Jones at six, and a series of odd quotes about Eli Manning's future, New York GM Dave Gettleman has become a national punch line. It seems highly unlikely Giants ownership wants their GM on national television, especially in an unguarded format like Hard Knocks, and usually, when Giants ownership wants something, they get their way. How many cold weather cities have hosted an outdoor Super Bowl again?

There's also the Raiders. 

Jon Gruden would be a star because he already is a star. The team traded for Antonio Brown, who is also a star. The Raiders would make great television.

But wouldn't they rather go on Hard Knocks next season when the team moves to Las Vegas? How glitzy is that? There won't be a coaching change — Gruden is armed with a 10-year contract — and the team should be better as their three first-round draft picks will have a year of experience. The Raiders on Hard Knocks in 2020 seems like a slam dunk. 

The Lions and 49ers are also options, but less appealing. Detroit is a perennial also-ran, and San Francisco lacks sizzle. 

So back to the Redskins. 

The team would be appealing for HBO. Washington has a huge fan base across the country, and the television network is already familiar with the team's Richmond training camp setup. In 2015, HBO chronicled the Houston Texans' training camp, and that included a trip to Richmond for joint practices. Everybody remembers that trip. 

But if the Redskins didn't want Hard Knocks before, why is this time different? Oddsmakers think things have changed, and digging in, maybe they're right.

By all accounts, the 'Skins had an excellent 2019 NFL Draft. They added their quarterback of the future in Haskins, and aggressively traded back into the first round to grab Montez Sweat, a potential beast of a pass rusher. The team also signed Landon Collins this offseason to an $84 million contract, and have pieces in place for a Top 10 defense. Offensively, Adrian Peterson is going into the Hall of Fame and second-year RB Derrius Guice should return from a knee injury to push for carries. 

Maybe, just maybe, the Redskins are willing to let HBO inside their walls because they want to brag a little bit. 

In the weeks after the draft, Allen did appearances on ESPN's First Take along with a host of national radio interviews. Stephen A. Smith interviewing Bruce Allen was wildly unexpected, and it corresponds to a noticeable increase in accessibility with the Redskins front office boss. Allen has conducted more media availabilities this offseason than he had in the previous two years combined. 

For all the talk of dysfunction that gets thrown around at Redskins Park, the reality is quite different. At least on the football side. The team did fire a number of high ranking business executives late last year after employing them for less than a season. That was an ugly scene.

On the field, however, things have been fairly steady for years. The team is aggressively mediocre in the Jay Gruden era, which is more stable than the franchise has been for the last 25 years. And Gruden would be hysterical on Hard Knocks, along with Rob Ryan and Jim Tomsula. 

Maybe going on Hard Knocks will change the perception around the team that owner Dan Snyder calls all the shots. Maybe going on Hard Knocks will get fans excited for the Haskins era, and get those fans to buy tickets. FedEx Field was noticeably empty last year. Maybe none of it happens too. 

Despite being the betting favorite, it is far from certain the Redskins land on Hard Knocks later this summer. But there are reasons to believe maybe this could be the year. 

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