Current Estimated 2016 Cap Space: -$5.9 Million
Expected 2016 Cap Space: $39.4 million
Estimated Rookie Cap: $5.787 million
Players Under Contract: 63
Pro Bowlers: 1
Unrestricted Free Agents: 15(3 with 50%+ playtime)
Draft Selection: 21
Salary Cap Breakdown
Free Agents to Re-sign
Washington did the right thing by using the franchise tag on Kirk Cousins. Unless he is willing to sign for no more than $15 million a year they should not do a new deal with him…As long as Terrance Knighton is willing to do an affordable contract they have can have him as a part time presence on the defensive line…Junior Galette never got the opportunity to play because of injury but one would think the Redskins will get a chance to re-sign him. It’s an interesting negotiation because he has talent but no longer has the incentive to sign for the minimum. Galette also gave up his right to pure free agency, essentially making himself a RFA for the year. That should hurt his negotiating power.
Free Agents to Let Walk
For whatever reason the offense did not seem to have a place for Alfred Morris so its best to let him walk…I would not see Kedric Golston back in Washington next year. He is not enough of a contributor to return,…Most of the other free agents are all of the minimum salary variety and not really a priority either way.
Contracts to Modify
Extending Jordan Reed will cost more on the salary cap now but would likely prove beneficial in the long run…Dashon Goldson should have a role in the secondary but not at $8 million. Reworking that contract to a more reasonable number would work for both sides…While I would have opted to release Pierre Garcon it does not seem Washington is looking to do that so instead they should extend him on a contract in the $5 to $6 million range that is more representative of his future value.
Players to Consider Releasing
The fact that the team will be cutting Robert Griffin III is probably the worst kept secret in the NFL. They save over $16 million when they make the cut…Chris Culliver’s guarantee was voided when he was suspended and the Redskins should use that to correct a mistake they made by signing him. Cutting him saves $5.5 million…The team can save around $4.2 million if they cut Jason Hatcher who seems to be hinting at retirement rather than accepting a reduced salary…It is hard to tell what the Redskins saw in Andre Roberts when they signed him but with $3 million in cap savings they should release him…Shawn Lauvao has a $5 million cap hit, $3 million of which will be saved when they cut him…Kory Lichtensteiger has a $3.8 million cap charge and the team saves $2.8 million of that if they cut him.
The Redskins have the second highest expected change in cap room in the entire league, as the large number of contracts signed in 2014 – DeSean Jackson, Andre Roberts, Chris Baker, Perry Riley, Shawn Lauvao, Jason Hatcher and DeAngelo Hall – enter their respective third contract seasons. By the third season of a contract, the large majority of guaranteed money has already counted against the cap, leaving the player with little in the way of dead money protection (not to mention less future optionality for the team). The consequence of this is that the contract termination decision will be more heavily affected by performance and age considerations than salary cap considerations.
I do not have the ability to calculate Commitment Index for prior years, but I would guess that the Redskins position over the last year (20th in June, 21st in August, 10th in October and 8th in January) is less committed relative to the rest of the league than the team has been for much of the 21st Century. A large Kirk Cousins contract would likely move the team toward the top of the Commitment Index rankings, but a large commitment to Cousins can be largely offset if the team releases a number of the players with low Expected Outcomes listed below and remains relatively quiet in free agency.
Expected Contract Outcomes – Expected Contract Value 2.0 utilizes an algorithm based on a player’s contract characteristics, age, position and 2015 performance to forecast probabilities as to the outcomes of contract termination decisions. The lower the Expected Outcome, the more likely the player’s contract will be terminated in 2016. A pay cut is treated as a termination. We have applied ECV 2.0 to all contracts scheduled to count $2 million or more against the 2016 salary cap with the exception of exercised 5th year rookie options. Expected Savings is the calculated by multiplying the probability a player will be released by the cap savings realized by the team upon such release.
|Player||Position||Expected Outcome||Expected Savings|
|Expected Change in Cap Room||+$28,997,347|
True Cap Space – Realizable Cap Space depicts the total amount of salary cap space potentially at the team’s disposal in 2016, and True Cap Space makes further adjustments to take into consideration amounts that are accounted for in practical terms. Most True Cap Space will be used on players currently under contract as a result of the team choosing to not release them.
|True Cap Space (2016)|
|Adjusted Salary Cap||$156,112,784|
|Prorated Signing Bonus Amounts||($28,437,817)|
|Realizable Cap Space||$127,674,967|
|Fully Guaranteed Salary||($21,847,046)|
|Minimum Salary Cap Holds||($21,600,000)|
|True Cap Space||$84,227,921|
Commitment Index – Commitment Index identifies the degree to which a team has “mortgaged its future” by measuring its net future salary cap commitments as a percentage of the average net future salary cap commitments of all teams. A Commitment Index Score of 100% is average, and a negative Commitment Index Score indicates that the team has more current salary cap space than future salary cap commitments. The Commitment Index Score of every team in the league changes to at least some degree with every transaction executed by any team in the league, so Commitment Index Score is measured as of a specific point in time (in this case, January 11, 2016).
|Commitment Index (2017+)|
|Prorated Signing Bonus Amounts||$45,888,326|
|Fully Guaranteed Salary||$6,191,735|
|Current Cap Space||($8,958,747)|
|Commitment Index Score||250%|
|League Rank (1st = Most Committed)||8th|
I don’t know if anyone outside of the Washington fanbase expected them to make a playoff appearance last season, but they exceeded all expectations and now will have to find a way to continue that success this year. That can put a team in a difficult spot because they end up veering from their initial plans and focus more on the short term. My guess is if we see the Redskins releasing a large number of players it will show more of a commitment to the future but holding on to more players may indicate a shift towards short term planning.
I would think Washington will start the offseason by trying to finalize their offensive line by looking for a center. One of the best in the NFL will be available in Alex Mack, who just voided his contract to become a free agent. He will cost a huge number, possibly $10 million a year if he gets enough interest on the open market, but the team could see that as a necessary evil. Other veterans include Stefen Wisniewski and Manny Ramirez. The better value at this position usually comes in the draft.
Investing in the defensive line would help tremendously. Right now the rotation is a bit overprices with players not necessarily in their best positions. Damon Harrison of the Jets would be a natural fit on the inside to pair with Knighton next season. Since I don’t think the tem will part with a first round pick for Muhammad Wilkerson they could look at Malik Jackson as a higher end 34 end for the team. If they want to go the cheap route taking a low cost flier on a Mike DeVito might not be a bad idea.
With this being a deep group in the secondary the Redskins should be able to find themselves another cornerback. Whether that is someone to replace Culliver or play alongside him there should be a number to choose from. Janoris Jenkins, Casey Heyward, and Prince Amukamara are all young players with potential while Sean Smith would be the safer veteran with the larger cost but lesser upside.
One of the reasons the Redskins are likely keeping both Garcon and DeSean Jackson is because of how poor this group of free agent receivers are. They are all number 2’s most of whom will only perform with a traditional number 1, which Washington doesn’t have. That said the Redskins wide receivers are all older and injuries are a concern. This is a spot where the team has to focus in the draft.
Linebacker is another area of need but again that won’t likely be a free agent find this year due to lack of options. You may find a guy to chip in but he likely wont solve anything long term. This will be a draft position they can hope to fill in the middle rounds.
Considering there are still questions about the quarterback position I would think that the Redskins take a somewhat conservative approach to the offseason as they continue turning over the roster. If Cousins is the real deal they can compete for the NFC East crown even if they just add a few pieces and then go from there in the future. If he falls flat on his face at least they wont be locked into too many big deals beyond the season.
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.