Redskins

WHO DAT?

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WHO DAT?

Wander the streets of New Orleans this week and you'd think the Saints are one of the teams playing in Sunday's Super Bowl.

Entire families are sporting Drew Brees jerseys. Women are wearing rhinestone-studded Saints T-shirts and fleur-de-lis earrings. Men are in Saints jerseys and sweatshirts.

Of course, fans in every host city show pride in their home team. But there's a special bond between the Saints and the people of New Orleans. While they're happy to welcome the Ravens and the 49ers, this city will always belong to the Saints.

-Nancy Armour -http://www.twitter.com/nrarmour

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EDITOR'S NOTE - ``Super Bowl Watch'' shows you the Super Bowl and the events surrounding the game through the eyes of Associated Press journalists across New Orleans and around the world. Follow them on Twitter where available with the handles listed after each item.

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ESPN fantasy guru Matthew Berry has labeled Antonio Gibson a 2020 sleeper

ESPN fantasy guru Matthew Berry has labeled Antonio Gibson a 2020 sleeper

If you made it to this story, congratulations! It's a story about the Redskins, as opposed to a story about the Redskins name. Welcome. 

So, let's talk about some real football.

Well, actually, let's talk about some fantasy football that should also impact real football.

On Tuesday, a wide panel of ESPN's fantasy experts released their guide for 2020's sleepers, busts and breakout players. Among those on the panel was Matthew Berry, who's an expert among experts. And for his sleeper selection, Berry tabbed Redskins third-rounder Antonio Gibson. 

Here's why Berry made that choice:

Before you call me a homer, hear me out. Washington lacks any reliable playmakers outside of Terry McLaurin, and Gibson is a versatile offensive weapon (last season he was the only FBS player to have more than 700 receiving yards and more than 300 rushing yards). Yes, it was a limited sample, but Gibson averaged more than 14 yards per offensive touch. Coach Ron Rivera recently said Gibson has "a skill set like Christian McCaffrey." Not saying he will be CMC or even used as much as him, but OC Scott Turner knows he will have to be creative on offense, and Gibson's versatility will allow him to create mismatches all over the field. 

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That paragraph should have you excited by Gibson's prospects for the virtual team you'll spend $50 on to enter in your league that you'll then swear to never play in again after you finish 3-10, but more importantly, it should have you excited about Gibson's prospects for your favorite NFL team.

Yes, there is some real concern for how the limited offseason and preseason could affect the Redskins rookies, and especially Gibson. Turner and Ron Rivera have stated that they want to employ him in multiple ways, but how will he handle that workload early on when he hasn't had much coaching and is coming into the league raw in some key aspects, too?

RELATED: HOW A DJ MOORE-LIKE ROLE COULD SUIT GIBSON

However, as Berry wrote, perhaps that's overthinking it.

The staff that's now in place in Washington is bringing an offense up from Carolina that prominently featured running backs. Of course, Gibson isn't anywhere near McCaffrey, but that doesn't mean Turner is going to just bail on his calling card. Gibson will get his looks.

If his looks from college are any indication, then they should result in plenty of yards and points as a pro.

So, as fun as it is to daydream about Chase Young tossing Lane Johnson and other tackles around this year, don't overlook Gibson. Berry certainly isn't, meaning you probably shouldn't, either.

Stay connected with the Redskins in the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

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Why a flat NHL salary cap is bad news for the Capitals

Why a flat NHL salary cap is bad news for the Capitals

When it comes to free agency and projecting which pending free agents a team may try to re-sign, there is a fair amount of guesswork involved. For most of the year, we don't actually know perhaps the most crucial piece of information: the salary cap. The salary cap is not set until after a season is over so while we have projections of what the cap may be, we don't actually know. The one assumption that pretty much everyone makes when projecting the cap is that it will go up. Business is good for professional sports, the value of teams continues to rise as does hockey-related revenue...and then the coronavirus pandemic happened.

The revenue the league stands to lose due to the pause to the season, the cancellation of the remainder of the regular season and a postseason without any fan attendance brought the NHL and NHL Players' Association together to negotiate how to navigate the difficult financial times ahead. As a result, an agreement was reached Monday on a memorandum of understanding for the collective bargaining agreement. As part of the negotiations, both sides reportedly agreed to a flat salary cap for the next two seasons meaning the current ceiling of $81.5 million will remain the ceiling.

That's bad news for the Capitals.

But why? If the Caps can afford to fit their team under the $81.5 million salary cap now, why is it such an issue that the cap will remain at $81.5 million next season?

As I mentioned above, everyone operates under the assumption that the salary cap will continue to rise, including general managers. That's not optimism or poor planning. Really it takes something catastrophic to halt that rise, like a lockout/strike or...you know, like a global pandemic. The point is, every team when projecting out its rosters for next year and beyond, did so with the assumption that the salary cap would rise. Now that it's not, that affects the projections for every team.

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For the Caps, yes, they were able to fit their roster under the $81.5 million cap for this season, but just barely. For much of the season, the team carried only six defensemen, the bare minimum, on the roster. That means if a player got sick or injured the day of the game, the team would have essentially had to play a full game with only five defensemen. It took a lot of cap gymnastics for general manager Brian MacLellan to fit his roster under the cap and it was something that was constantly tweaked all year. Will he be able to do it again next year? Not with the current roster.

The biggest issue for Washington is a number of long-term deals that will now come back to bite them. The Caps have for several years now been a "cap team," meaning they have spent right up to the salary cap ceiling. This is typical for teams looking to compete for the Stanley Cup. If you feel you are a legitimate contender, you try to make every dollar count towards building a championship roster. Without much room under the cap to work with, however, MacLellan had to offer free agents something else in order to entice players to sign. As a result, the team has given out several deals to players of four years or more. The benefit to this is, not only can you continue bidding on free agents without much money to spend, but even if a player does not live up to his cap hit, that cap hit gets lower every year in terms of percentage with a rising salary cap.

In 2017, T.J. Oshie was a free agent. The Caps did not have the money under the cap to re-sign him so instead offered him an eight-year deal. There is no question Oshie left money on the table in terms of a yearly salary, but he got more years. Will he be worth a $5.75 million cap hit when he's 38 and on the last year of his contract? Probably not by today's standards when his cap hit alone takes a little over 7-percent of the team's cap space. With a rising cap, however, that percentage would have gone down each year. Now it won't, at least not as much as MacLellan had anticipated.

For a team that has pushed right up against the cap ceiling the last few years, one of the few sources of relief it could find was the yearly increase to the cap. Now it won't have that for the next two years.

RELATED: NHL, NHLPA ADD 4 YEARS TO CURRENT CBA  

Washington has 11 players with at least three years on their current contracts after the 2019-20 season. Those are players whose cap hits by percentage will remain exactly the same next season. With a salary cap of $81.5 million, the Caps have 11 forwards, four defensemen and one goalie under contract with a little less than $10.4 million of cap space remaining.  That's $10.4 million to use on at least two forwards, three defensemen and a goalie. That's not a lot.

There are also restricted free agents like Jonas Siegenthaler and Travis Boyd with cap hits of $714,166 and $800,000, respectively. Both players will be due raises. It's hard to imagine the team walking away from Siegenthaler, but even if they wanted to with Boyd, they would still have to replace him with another player who costs money. Plus, Ilya Kovalchuk, Radko Gudas, Brenden Dillon and, most importantly, Braden Holtby will be unrestricted free agents.

Free agency was going to be difficult for Washington to manage yet again in 2020 regardless of how much the cap was going to rise. Now with a flat cap, the team's practice of handing out long-term contracts is really going to come back to bite them and force some difficult decisions. The team has very little money to pay players more than what they're making now. Does this ensure the end of Holtby's time in Washington? Does the team wait on a long-term extension for Ovechkin to get a better idea of where the salary cap may be in a few years? Can the team afford to keep any of its UFAs? Does the team leave Oshie exposed to Seattle in the expansion draft?

At this point, these are all questions MacLellan now has to consider.

Stay connected to the Capitals with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

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