With the lockout potentially coming to a close, I wanted to take a closer look at the Redskins Salary Cap situation. Now obviously there are a lot of unknowns; such as what will the new Salary Cap number be, will every player’s salary be counted (in the past only the highest paid 50 players on a team counted), how will the dead money of recently cut players be counted, are there any changes in the cap hit for releasing/trading players currently under contract, and will a rookie salary scale be implemented this year?
Despite all those questions (and probably a few more), I think we can get a pretty fair base line for what the Redskins cap situation will be, and it will obviously be tweaked accordingly. I’m only going to focus on players who were either on the team last year (for a significant portion), and will likely be in the mix to make the team this year. Anyone else, is basically on a minimum salary anyways, so it won’t really change the bottom line. All salary numbers come from rotoworld, and I’ll break it down by position. My focus will be on this year’s number, but I might make notations of other interesting facts.
Quarterback: Total- $13.3 million
Donovan McNabb: $12.5 million (there are option bonuses and such, but if McNabb is on the roster that is what the Redskins owe)
John Beck: $800, 000- Beck is under contract through 2012
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Running backs: Total- $885,000
Ryan Torain: $480,000 – Torain is under contract through 2012
Keiland Williams: $405,000- Williams is under contract through 2012
Fullbacks: Total- $1.355 million
Mike Sellers: $950,000- Sellers is under contract through 2014
Darryl Young: $405,000- Young is under contract through 2012
Tight Ends: Total- $4.66 million
Chris Cooley: $3.7 million- under control through 2013
Fred Davis: $555,000- free agent after this season
Logan Paulsen: $405,000- under control through 2012
Wide Receivers: $2.410 million
Anthony Armstrong: $405,000- under control through 2012
Terrence Austin: $405,000- under control through 2013
Brandon Banks: $405,000- under control through 2013
Malcolm Kelly: $555,000- FA after this season
Roydell Williams: $640,000- FA after this season
Offensive Line: Total- $15.215 million (counting both Capers and Fulton at $405K)
Trent Williams: $7.852 million- under control through 2015
Casey Rabach: $3 million- under control through 2012
Artis Hicks: $1.15 million- under control through 2012
Mike Williams: $840,000- free agent after this year
Will Montgomery: $640,000- free agent after this year
Kory Lichtensteiger: $555,000- free agent after this year
Erik Cook: $405,000- under control through 2013
Selvish Capers: reserve contract (likely between $330- $405K)
Xavier Fulton: reserve contract
Special Teams: $2.94 million
Graham Gano: $480,000- will be a restricted FA after this season
Josh Bidwell: $1.5 million- free agent after this season
Sam Paulescu: $555,000- under control through 2012
Nick Sundberg: $405,000- under control through 2012
Defensive Line: $12.68 million
Albert Haynesworth: $5.4 million- signed through 2015, but a massive option bonus in 2013 means, these next 2 season are really it
Maake Kemoeatu: $2.1 million (including all bonuses)- FA after this season
Phillip Daniels: $1 million- FA after this season
Vonnie Holliday: $ 1 million- FA after this season
Adam Carriker: $1.42 million- FA after this season
Anthony Bryant: $640,000- FA after this season
Darrion Scott: $640,000- signed through 2012
Jeremy Jarmon: $480,000-signed through 2012
Linebackers: $7.42 million
London Fletcher: $5 million (including workout bonus)- FA after this season
Brian Orakpo: $480,000 (is possible he has reached certain incentives adding some more money, though it is unclear right now how that is broken down) – signed through 2013
Lorenzo Alexander: $650,000- signed through 2012
Rob Jackson: $480,000- signed through 2012
Robert Henson: $405,000- signed through 2012
Perry Riley: $405,000- signed through 2013
Defensive Backs: Total- $19. 445 million
DeAngelo Hall: $5 million (including workout bonus)- signed through 2014
LeRon Landry: $3.715 million- FA after this season
O.J. Atogwe: $8 million (including all bonuses, future years are less as they front-loaded the deal)- signed through 2015
Kevin Barnes: $480,000 (it’s possible that his cap hit will be higher, more like $650K)- signed through 2012
Macho Harris: $480,000 – signed through 2012
Chris Horton: $555,000- FA after this year
Reggie Jones: $330,000- signed through 2012
Kareem Moore: $555,000- FA after this year
Anderson Russell: $330,000- signed through 2012
Total overall: $80.31 million for the 50 players listed.
Now obviously I didn’t delve into the rookie salaries, but at most that should be just another $10-15 million under the old format, and could be less if a rookie salary scale is implemented. It is also important to remember that the rookies would be replacing guys on the roster, so even if every guy they replaced made $405-480K, there would be more than $5 million in savings, meaning the rookie increase would be at most $5-10 million. And to assume that just minimum guys would be replaced is a very unlikely scenario, in actuality the increase in rookie contracts will probably be $3-5 million more than the guys they are replacing.
So just how good of a cap position is that for the Redskins? Well the situation is murky right now, but I think a fair estimate of the Salary Cap is that it will come in around $120 million (it could go a few million either way). This would leave the Redskins with about $40 million to spend (not counting the rookie impact). Now there is potential that some of these salaries were underestimated, or that there will be dead cap charges from some of the guys that were cut (no one really knows how the new CBA will address those moves), but $40 million is a good baseline.
While the Redskins $80 million in committed contracts allows them to have flexibility, that number is actually artificially high. The Redskins have a number of big money contracts that they are likely going to look to cut or trade when free agency opens up, which should increase their cap situation. If the Redskins move McNabb, Haynesworth, Rabach, Hicks, Bidwell, and Kemoeatu they will save an additional $25.65 million. And if the Redskins clear out a number of their backup roles like Sellers, R. Williams, Kelly, M. Williams, Daniels, Holliday, Scott, Horton, they could save another $6.15 million. That is nearly $32 million that the Redskins can basically shave off their cap number with no downside. Of the guys listed only Haynesworth is a producing player, and his off the field incidents and open feud with Coach Shanahan severely mitigates his value. Outside of that maybe Holliday would stay, given his solid play and veteran leadership, but that is about it. Now a chunk of that money would go to the rookies (though other minimum guys would be released as well, so the full $10 million wouldn’t come from this).
So even after factoring in the rookie money, I think you’d be looking at the Redskins having a payroll somewhere in the $55-57 million range, which means they’d have over $60 million to spend on the open market. Now the picture isn’t entirely rosy as the Redskins have numerous holes to fill, but they at least have the resources to fill most of them. Even with this much cap room the one thing the Redskins should avoid doing is giving $15-20 million for a single player (i.e. Nnamdi Asomugha, who could command somewhere in that neighborhood). Instead of focusing on just landing one or two mega names, the Redskins should look at adding 5-7 really good players, and build up a quality core group that can grow into a serious contender.
The Redskins should also use their financial flexibility to front load more contracts (like they did with Atogwe), which will allow them to have more cap room in the future and avoid the horrible cap messes this team got themselves in this past decade. Extending future free agents like LaRon Landry and London Fletcher, would be another productive use of this cap room, and will continue to increase cap flexibility going forward.