The thought has come up recently that given the cap penalty of $18 million in 2012 and 2013, the Redskins will be in a prime salary cap position come 2014 offseason, allowing them to be aggressive on the open market. Now there is obviously a lot that can happen between now and 2014, but these are the kinds of long term projections that teams will do. It’s unclear where exactly the salary cap will be in 2014, after early projections of it making a big jump, more recent reports indicate the jump will likely be far smaller. At this time the max that I see it rising over the next two years is $10 million, but I think it is more likely to be more like $5-7 million (and very well could be less). For the purpose of this exercise think of the cap in the $125-127 million range, but understand it is just an estimate. I will breakdown the 2014 cap hits for every Redskin under contract for that season, who is likely to be on this year’s squad. Note that players like a Richard Crawford or Jordan Bernstein aren’t on this list, but if they were they’d only go to replace someone on this list, so from a cap perspective it’s fairly meaningless. After the breakdown I will go into some deeper analysis.
Robert Griffin: $5.8 million (estimate)
Kirk Cousins: $0.688 million
Roy Helu: $0.762 million
Evan Royster: $0.645 million
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Alfred Morris: $0.601 million
Pierre Garcon: $9.8 million
Leonard Hankerson $0.797 million
Aldrick Robinson: $0.650 million (estimate)
Niles Paul: $0.693 million
Trent Williams: $9.6 million
Jammal Brown: $6.55 million
Chris Chester: $4.3 million
Will Montgomery: $3.37 million
Josh LeRibeus: $0.735 million (estimate)
Adam Gettis: $0.620 million
Tom Compton: $0.595 million
Barry Cofield: $5.63 million
Stephen Bowen: $5.9 million
Adam Carriker: $6.75 million
Jarvis Jenkins: $1.67 million
Chris Neild: $0.645 million
Ryan Kerrigan: $2.775 million
Keenan Robinson: $0.675 million
Markus White: $0.657 million
DeAngelo Hall: $9.5 million
Brandyn Thompson: $0.657 million
Chase Minnifield: $0.575 million (estimate)
DeJon Gomes: $0.693 million
At first glance that $82.4 million doesn’t look too bad, but that is for just 28 players, many of whom (if they are still on the team) aren’t considered starters or significant contributors. Notably, that 2014 roster is without Tim Hightower, Santana Moss, Josh Morgan, Fred Davis, Chris Cooley and Kory Lichtensteiger on offense. On defense it is without Brian Orakpo, London Fletcher, Perry Riley, Josh Wilson, Cedric Griffin, Brandon Meriweather and Tanard Jackson. Yes some of those guys will be replaced my incumbent players or future draft picks in 2013 or 2014, but not anywhere close to all of those spots. Now the Redskins can and probably will cut players like DeAngelo Hall, Jammal Brown and Adam Carriker (if they haven’t already to get under the cap in 2013), but then those spots need to be replaced as well.
QB- The Redskins are set here fairly cheaply, though if they do attempt to trade Kirk Cousins for draft picks, they will probably need to spend some money on a decent back-up.
RB- The Redskins could be solid here, but if they want to retain FB Darryl Young it will probably cost them $1-3 million a year. This also assumes that they don’t need to add a veteran, or higher draft pick.
WR: Even if Hankerson is a good starter to go along with Garcon, it is very likely the Redskins will need to add a receiver or two, to complement them. If the Redskins have to use the free agent market even a 3rd WR can get pricey (ex. Josh Morgan).
TE: Obviously this position is extremely thin, and the Redskins will have to spend some resources here. Whether it is re-signing Fred Davis, signing another free agent, or spending a 2nd or 3rd round pick.
OL: Even if you are a big believer in the three rookies this year, this looks to be a position of need. How great of a need is based on how effective the rookies are, as well as Chris Chester and Will Montgomery. Right now the only guy who appears to be a lock at being a quality starter is Trent Williams.
DL: Cutting Carriker would thin the ranks necessitating some resources added to the position, hopefully there wouldn’t need to be major additions, but some help will be needed.
LB: This is a tough one as incumbent starters Brian Orakpo, London Fletcher and Perry Riley are all free agents. Even if Fletcher retires and Keenan Robinson takes over, You still have to re-sign two starters (including Orakpo who is your best defensive player), and rebuild your depth.
CB: If Hall is cut, as he should be since he isn’t worth close to $9.5 million, the Redskins will completely need to revamp this position. Josh Wilson should likely be re-signed, but beyond that the Redskins need to hope that a guy like Chase Minnifield steps up. This is a position that will probably need a big influx of resources in the next two years.
S: Safety is even worse than CB, as DeJon Gomes probably isn’t going to develop into a quality starter. The Redskins will need to add at least two safeties in the next two years, if not a third for depth.
ST: If Gano is retained he’ll cost $1-3 million, as will likely any punter of even moderate significance.
Without Hall, Carriker and Brown the Redskins would only have $60 million committed, but they have to either re-sign a number of players, as well as fill a number of openings. So on one hand the Redskins will have a lot to spend, but if they say bring back Fred Davis, Brian Orakpo, Perry Riley and Josh Wilson, that cap room will go pretty quickly. The Redskins should still have the room necessary to comfortably add some other veterans and contributors, but I wouldn’t expect them to necessarily add any major free agents during this period, unless the significantly push money in future years (which is a bad idea when for when they need to extend Griffin).
The Redskins will obviously have two draft classes to help fill all these gaps, but really they can only count on the 2nd and 3rd rounders to have much hope of being starters or significant contributors early on. The rest of the picks (that make the team) will either replace the late round picks the Redskins have made the past few years, or round out this roster. At certain positions the 4th round picks may be able to contribute, and if the Redskins were to say grab a kicker/punter with a late round pick, they could find a cheaper starter then on the open market (with more risk of course). It is of course possible they find a diamond in the rough, but they can’t bank on that. Not having first round picks will mean, the Redskins will need to utilize the free agent market more, and that they can’t afford to miss on many picks.
Overall it’s clear that the Redskins will need to get creative and lucky if they are to remain on the path of contention. They can’t afford any more bad contracts like Jammal Brown or DeAngelo Hall, since money will be tight. At the same time they need to ensure that their scouting is perfect (or as close as can be expected). Devin Thomas/Kevin Barnes draft busts can’t be acceptable.