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Which Redskin might be a surprise cap casualty in 2016?

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Which Redskin might be a surprise cap casualty in 2016?

In less than a year, the Redskins completed a stunning turnaround, ascending from a laughingstock in 2014 to a division champion in 2015. But now comes the difficult part: taking that all-important next step and improving from a franchise that was fortunate to get into the playoffs to one that can do some damage once it gets there. And that work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players.

In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will examine the 25 biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.

No. 4

Who are surprise candidates to be cut for salary cap reasons?

Tandler: At this point I don’t think that anyone will be surprised when the inevitable happens and the Redskins move on from Robert Griffin III and his $16.1 million 2016 salary. So we can safely eliminate him from the discussion here.

And nobody will be shocked if DE Jason Hatcher and WR Andre Roberts depart for cap reasons as well. But who else might go?

Looking at the remaining players who have high cap numbers without productivity on the field to match, my eye immediately goes to safety Dashon Goldson. His cap number is $8 million, the eighth-highest on the team and the sixth-highest among NFL safeties.

For their $8 million the Redskins will get a player who is a stand-up leader and one who sets a great example in the locker room. But they won’t be getting a player who performed very well in 2015. He missed 32 tackles. Pro Football Focus ranked him 60th out of the 60 safeties who played at least 50 percent of their teams’ snaps.

Given that the Redskins don’t have a lot of depth at safety and that they do value Goldson’s leadership, they might try to negotiate a pay cut for the veteran, who will turn 32 during Week 2 of the coming season. But that can be problematic and you can’t rule out the possibility that they can’t come to an agreement and Goldson and the team have, as they like to say these days, a parting of ways.

El-Bashir: Can’t argue with anything Tandler said above. I'm also curious about the futures of wide receivers Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson, who are due to count $10.2 million and $9.25 million against the cap, respectively, and center Kory Lichtensteiger, who is due just over $4 million.

But for the purpose of today's discussion, I'd like to highlight a couple of defensive players who stood out to me: linebacker Perry Riley and cornerback Chris Culliver.

Let’s start with Riley’s situation, which is a complicated one. He got off to a slow start in 2015 and even saw Will Compton take a lot of his playing time at New England in Week 9. However, in the three games that followed, Riley, 27, responded by playing his best football of the season. Then he suffered a broken foot in practice and did not play in the final five regular season games and the playoff game.

Riley’s cap hit in 2016 is $5,049,804—that’s the 10th highest on the team—and the Redskins could save $4 million by cutting him.

Here’s the question: Do the coaches envision Riley as a starter next season? Or are they okay with Compton and Mason Foster, who performed well down the stretch and figure to cost significantly less?

Culliver, meantime, is attempting to bounce back from a torn ACL that he suffered during a practice in late November. His health, however, isn't the only thing creating uncertainty about his future in Washington. According to The Washington Times, the four-year $32 million contract Culliver signed last offseason to be the Redskins’ No. 1 corner contained a clause that voided the $8 million he’s guaranteed next season...if he got suspended in '15. And, of course, Culliver was suspended in Week 2 for an off-the-field incident that occurred when he was a 49er.

Culliver is due to count $9.25 million against the cap next season—that’s the fifth highest hit on the team—but the Redskins can walk away with only a $3.75 million charge to their cap. And with another significant knee injury creating questions about his availability, it certainly makes you wonder.

25 Questions series

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Need to Know: The five best teams the Redskins will play in 2018

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Need to Know: The five best teams the Redskins will play in 2018

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, July 15, 11 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The best teams the Redskins will face in 2018

This week we’ll be looking at the best of what the Redskins will face during the 2018 season. Most of the focus will be on individuals such as quarterbacks and pass rushers, but we’re going to get started with the best teams on the schedule. These are roughly ranked by Football Outsiders’ DVOA, although I did some juggling based on offseason moves and other factors. 

1. Eagles (13-3, Super Bowl champs)—They were fifth overall in DVOA and the second-ranked team on the schedule. But DVOA is calculated for the regular season only and you have to say that by the time the playoffs were over that the Eagles had taken their game up a few notches over everyone else. They haven’t lost much over the offseason, putting them at the top of the heap and the Redskins play them twice. 

2. Saints (11-5, lost in divisional round)—New Orleans was the top team in DVOA in 2017. After a couple of mediocre seasons, the Saints have retooled, and they will make a push to get Drew Brees his second Super Bowl ring. They play in Week 5, which means that Mark Ingram will be back from his four-game suspension to open the season and he will be alongside Alvin Kamara in the Saints backfield. They both had over 100 yards from scrimmage when the teams played last year. 

3. Jaguars (10-6, lost AFC title game)—They finally made the jump after failing for the last few years as the trendy preseason pick. It was no fluke as they outscored their opponents by 149 points on the season. Their quarterback situation is far from ideal with Blake Bortles, but they are strong enough defensively (first in defensive DVOA) to rely on their running game. 

4. Panthers (11-5, lost in wild-card round)—They certainly have had the Redskins’ number, winning the last six matchups, a streak going back to 2009. This doesn’t seem to be one of those fluke situations. The Redskins simply have problems matching up with Cam Newton. Carolina also is solid defensively (No. 7 in DVOA). 

5. Falcons (10-6, lost in divisional round)—Even though the Cowboys ranked a couple of notches ahead of the Falcons in DVOA, I’m putting the Falcons ahead of them. Dallas doesn’t have a good enough defense to win with their running game. I’ve always been a big Matt Ryan fan and a lot more people would be too if he hadn’t been victimized by poor defense and bad play calling in the Super Bowl a couple of years ago. Add in Julio Jones and their running backs and you have a scary offense. Defensively they are not that good but I still like their unit better than that of the Cowboys.

Rest of top 10:

6. Packers—Almost put them ahead of Falcons, their DVOA suffered last year with Rodgers out.
7. Cowboys—Even with problems on D, still have the Redskins’ number.
8. Texans—Way down the DVOA rankings last year but they will the tough with J.J. Watt and Deshaun Watson back. 
9. Titans—I’m not sure if they’re ready to take the next step up but they will be hard to beat. 
10. Bucs—The bolstered a defense that already with tough with Jason Pierre-Paul and Vita Vea.  

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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Timeline 

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 11
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 25
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 48

The Redskins last played a game 196 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 56 days. 

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Breaking down the Alexander pick

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Breaking down the Alexander pick

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, July 14, 12 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The Redskins week that was

Is Junior Galette hinting at a possible return to the Redskins? I would be very surprised if Galette ever wears a Redskins uniform again although it would make sense for them to talk to him. I think the Redskins should be very nervous about their depth at outside linebacker. Pernell McPhee can get them some pressure, but he has missed 10 games over the last two seasons. Ryan Anderson’s next NFL sack will be his first. You can’t have too many pass rushers; the Redskins could well find themselves in a spot where they don’t have enough. 

Upside outweighed risk in Redskins' selection of Alexander—The selection of Adonis Alexander wasn’t quite a no-brainer, but it was not a tough call for the Redskins to make. Torrian Gray, who recruited and coached Alexander at Virginia Tech, gave the green light so it came down to his potential and what draft pick they were willing to give up. They have two in the fifth round next year and they had three in the sixth. They might as well get one of those late Saturday afternoon picks in a year early and see what they have. We have more analysis of the Alexander pick here and here

If Guice is legitimate, the Redskins running game could explode—With the exception of the 2012-2013 seasons, when quarterback Robert Griffin III was kicking in a lot of yards on the ground, the Redskins have not been in the top 10 in the league in rushing yards since 2008. Derrius Guice could help change that. Read the post for my in-depth look at the running back position. 

Madden has a clear answer for the Alex Smith-Kirk Cousins debate—I don’t know much about Madden ratings, so I don’t have a lot to add here. It doesn’t look to me like the difference between the ratings of Smith and Cousins constitute and “clear” advantage but, again, what do I know?

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Joe Jacoby belongs in the Hall of Fame. If you’re reading this, I think you know that. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

Timeline 

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 12
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 26
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 54

The Redskins last played a game 195 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 57 days. 

In case you missed it