The Redskins will no doubt have a lot of money to spend this offseason, and that number will only rise as they start to release some of the bad contracts (Adam Carriker, Stephen Bowen, Kory Lichtensteiger, etc.) still on the roster. While many will see this as an opportunity for a spending spree, the Redskins aren’t out of the woods just yet. Yes the Redskins have a lot of money to spend, but they also have a lot of needs. Not only could the Redskins need to replace up to 14 starters and significant contributors this offseason, but they need to fill out the depth chart at number of positions as well. These obviously aren’t big money guys, but the Redskins would be wise to have a couple capable cheap veterans in their second unit. When you look at all the players the Redskins need to bring in, their “windfall” doesn’t look nearly as large, and they aren’t in as promising of a position as some other teams that may have less money to spend, but far less needs as well.
Now with the way the cap works the Redskins can go back to their old tricks and backload deals and use gimmicks like voidable years to cram as many big name free agents onto the roster. The problem with that is gimmicks like that are a big part of the reason why the Redskins will have about $20 million in dead money this year that they can’t spend. The Redskins also need to remember that going forward they have some important contracts coming up and they don’t want to be in a position of having to low-ball or not resign. Here are the 4 players the Redskins have to be the most aware about:
-Griffin is entering his 3rd season on his rookie deal and after which the Redskins will have to decide as to whether or not to pick up his 5th year option. As a top 10 pick that option pick-up is going to be very pricey (probably northwards of $15 million) in 2016, but it’s basically a foregone conclusion that they pick it up (another major injury could possibly force the team to pass). As high as that option year will be it, likely will be much cheaper than when the Redskins try to lock him up long term. Even 2nd rate QB’s are getting mega contracts. If Griffin comes close to living up to his potential over these next three years, you are looking at a contract that is worth well north of $20 million a year starting in 2016.
-This one is going to be expensive, no real way around it. Left tackles are among the highest paid positions and these last two years have vaulted Trent Williams into the elite category. In a way though this will be the easiest for the Redskins to handle, because the numbers won’t be that much different than what he’s been making. Since Williams was a top 5 pick from the last year before the rookie wage scale his salary is already enormous and he’s among the highest paid tackles. Williams new deal after 2015 will be bigger, but percentage wise it will be the smallest increase among these four players. Skins should still look to re-sign him earlier, but the difference will probably be on average $2 million more per year.
-Everyone says don’t pay running backs in that 2nd contract, but that is pretty simplistic way to look at things. The Eagles and Chiefs are both pretty happy they gave LeSean McCoy and Jamal Charles 2nd contracts as both backs led them to the playoffs. Marshawn Lynch is on his 2nd contract with the Seahawks and without him they don’t win the Super Bowl. Morris is a team guy and a leader, he’s absolutely someone you want to reward. Now you maybe aren’t going to make him the highest paid RB in the league, but the Skins should be ready to pay north of $7 million dollars when he’s ready to hit free agency after 2015. The Seahawks contract to Lynch at 4 years $30 million is probably a good baseline target for Morris.
-Kerrigan is entering his 4th year and the team has an option for the 5th year of his deal that are both very reasonable. After that though Kerrigan will be an unrestricted free agent and the Redskins would risk losing their 2nd or 3rd best defender, at a very important position. Now Kerrigan likely won’t cost as much as Brian Orakpo will this year since Kerrigan rushes from the left side and hasn’t put the sacks up that Orakpo has, but he should still find a pretty agreeable market. Now a lot could change cap wise two years from now (and it would be better to extend him sooner), but Kerrigan will probably be looking for something in the Paul Kruger ($8 million a year) range.
Any way you cut it the years 2015-2021 are going to be pricey due to these four players. Obviously you can do things to manipulate the cap and backload some of the deals so they aren’t all coming due at once, but that can only get you so far. The Redskins are going to have to pay these guys a good chunk of change and that obviously doesn’t take into account Brian Orakpo’s next contract and if the team goes out and extends Pierre Garcon. Now all of these guys can definitely be paid, but what it means is there is very little room for any other big money players. At that point the Redskins have to start considering if a player should be signed for $7 million a year, when they can get a slightly lower player for $5 million and use that extra $2 million elsewhere.
This is not meant to say the Redskins can’t make quality moves or not sign any other big name guys, they just have to be very cognizant of what’s coming up in the future. If they are smart with their money there won’t be a problem and everything will be good going forward. But if they aren’t careful it could cause major issues going forward.