If you’re reading this, you know that I am a die-hard Redskins fan. If you are reading this, there’s a good chance I have talked your ear off at one time or another about the upcoming Redskins off-season. After all, for the first time in what seems like forever, the Redskins are relevant, and winning the off-season is no longer about spending the most money, but making the smartest moves. Today I bring you a break down of the 2013 Redskins cap situation. Foremost, I must mention that most of these numbers are taken from a series of articles by Steve Shoup on HogsHaven: http://fanspeak.com/washingtonredskins/2013/02/07/washington-redskins-salary-cap-for-2013/
If you’re interested, you can check out his articles to see how he breaks down various players and where they may be cut, restructured, retire, etc. In this case, I am going through what I think will happen, or rather, what I think the Redskins should do, to free up cap space.
First, let me answer a few questions:
1) How much cap space do the Redskins have? Well, thanks to the prying of the Eagles and Giants following the lockout, the Redskins were docked $18 million in salary cap space for 2012 and 2013. The bad news? The Redskins have lost every appeal to get that money back and are going to be hindered again this off-season to acquire talent. The good news? The Redskins won the NFC East in 2012 with a payroll almost $20 million less than the league cap, and when the sanction lifts in 2014 the Redskins will have a TON of cap space to work with. So after the long description, the Skins actually sit at $104.223 million in payroll. The 2013 NFL Cap is set at $120.9 million. Take away $18 million in sanctions, and the Redskins cap sits at $102.9 million. So as of now, the Redskins are about $1.4 million over the cap.
2) What about the so-called carry-over cap from 2012? Well, the Redskins didn’t use $4 million of their cap space from last year so that rolls over. The Redskins payroll would otherwise be at $108.223 but that $4 million in rollover money reduces the current payroll to $104.223. The fact that the Redskins were able to go out and sign some key free agents last year despite being under the first of two years of cap purgatory is impressive and furthers my belief that Shanahan and Allen know what they’re doing. Gone are the days of big free-agent splashes, veterans beyond their prime. Today we see the team signing guys in their mid-20’s, entering their primes, to contracts that are fair in their awarding but below what many would earn after 2-3 years of that contract. Guys like Stephen Bowen, Barry Cofield, Pierre Garcon and Josh Wilson come to mind. I fully expect the Redskins to be able to address all of their holes this off-season, both through the draft and through free agency.
The following numbers are, for the most part, taken from the Shoup article linked above.
WHO TO CUT:
1. RT Jamal Brown is already gone. His release saved the Redskins $1.55 million in 2013.
2. WR Santana Moss will either be restructured or released. At 34 Moss is past his prime. The Redskins are expected to target a WR in the 2nd or 3rd round, likely in the slot position that Moss currently occupies. Releasing Moss would save the team $4.5 million in 2013. His total payout of $6.4 million is not worth the sentimental value he brings or the SWR contributions.
3. ILB London Fletcher. Let me be clear, this is not a cut, but rather a retirement. I really think London is going to hang it up. Word is he is pretty banged up and at 37 he could be determining whether to play another year or walk in 5 … London is a smart man, and I expect him to take the retirement train. With Phil Daniels leaving as the team’s development coordinator, expect Fletcher to stick around in a mentoring roll on the Skins staff. London’s retirement would save the Redskins $4 million.
WHO TO RESTRUCTURE:
1. CB DeAngelo Hall will either restructure or be released. It’s that simple. Hall has indicated that he’d like to stick around, so I’m inclined to think he will restructure to a pretty friendly deal, given his age and inconsistencies of late. Hall is currently owed over $8 million in 2013 and a restructure would save the team at least $4.5 million.
2. Barry Cofield is set to be one of the highest paid players on the team in 2013 and a prime candidate to get re-upped to lessen the 2013 blow. Cofield’s restructure would save the team $2.475 million.
3. Trent Williams makes the most money on the team. He is a dominant, pro-bowl caliber LT, but he can certainly be fit into a new, long-term deal to get his cap hit down a bit. Restructuring his deal would save the team $2.83 million in 2013.
4. Pierre Garcon signed a big contract last year, but he is young and could certainly be extended beyond what his current contract sits. Re-structuring Garcon’s deal would save the team $3.45 million in 2013. Note, I am not sure as to whether or not Garcon would restructure so soon after signing his original deal, but the fact is that he is owed over $8 million in 2013 and he may be willing to sacrafice a few million in 2013 to add 1-2 years to the contract, considering he spent over half of 2012 injured.
5. Chris Chester is entering the second half of his original contract and could certainly be inked to an extension given his consistency on the OL. A restructure of Chester’s contract would save the team $1.5 million in 2013.
6. Brian Orakpo needs to be extended. He is in the final year of his original contract. Coming off of an injury-plagued season, this is a ripe time to sign Orakpo before he has a breakout 2013 season and demands a strong contract next year. Extending Orakpo could save the team $1.525 million in 2013.
7. Josh Wilson is in the final year of his contract as well. He is due over $5 million. He has been a serviceable if not strong #2 CB and is young enough to extend another contract to. Getting him locked in long-term would ultimately save the team $2.362 million in 2013.
SO WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
Cutting Santana Moss and Jamal Brown and the retirement of London Fletcher saves the Redskins $10.05 million in 2013. The restructuring of Hall, Cofield, Williams, Garcon, Chester and the extension of Orakpo and Wilson would save the team an additional $19.142 million in 2013. It is important to mention that those restructures, in total, would add just over $7-10 million to the current 2014 payroll. Not bad, when you consider both Wilson and Orakpo would come off the books anyway and be in need of new contracts anyway. Considering the Redskins will likely have over $40 million in cap space in 2014, adding even $10 million to the 2014 payroll is not a bad deal if it means freeing up space to re-sign players and hit a few HRs in free agency.
REALITY OF IT ALL:
If the Redskins pursued all of the above moves they would save a total of $29.192 million. Now, are all of those deals going to take place? It’s doubtful. I personally think it would be hard to restructure Pierre Garcon while the ink is still drying on the deal he signed in 2012. But I think it is very reasonable to expect Hall, Cofield, Williams and Chester to restructure. It is in THEIR best interest to do so. While Hall may be the only one facing an immanent release if he refuses to restructure, the others would certainly benefit from adding 4-5 years to their contracts that are nearing their end. Orakpo, given his 2012 injury, is likely to extend early … and so will Josh Wilson, who has played well, but likely not well enough to command a contract greater than what the Redskins could likely offer an extension.
DeAngelo Hall COULD be released and save a total of $8 million, but I think he will take a pay-cut to stick around. London Fletcher is the wild card, as he could return, but I still think he ends up retiring. For now, I am going to go with my gut, and keep that $4.0 million in savings in my calculation. Finally, while I think Moss may be willing to restructure, Skins fans need to get over the sentimentality of letting him go. Simply put, for $6.5 million he is not worth keeping around. As I will discuss in later posts, I fully expect the Redskins to either pursue Percy Harvin (pipe dream) via trade or draft a slot WR in either the 2nd or 3rd round, which would make Moss irrelevant. Cutting him would free up $4.5 million that can be spent much wiser elsewhere!
All in all, the Redskins would reduce their 2013 payroll from $104.223 million to $75.031 million if they made the moves I list above. With the Redskins penalty-impaired Cap set at $102.9 million, these moves would place the Redskins at $27.869 million UNDER the cap before targeting their own restricted and unrestricted free agents, signing draft picks or pursuing other team’s free agents when the signing period starts in March.
**Note, I want to emphasize that I took all of the numbers, except for DeAngelo Hall’s estimated restructured savings from Steve Shoup’s piece on Hogs Haven. I found his numbers to be very useful in determining the course of the Redskins off-season, which I will catalog in a series of upcoming posts. I can’t validate that accuracy of his numbers but I think he had a very solid understanding of what goes into restructuring a deal, so I’m rolling with those numbers for now, because I honestly don’t know the specifics of cap maneuvering, only that the Redskins have historically been very good at it.