RGIII Benched…Whats Next for the Redskins QB?

The Washington Redskins have benched Robert Griffin III, which likely indicates the end of the road for Griffin with the Redskins organization. Let’s look at the financials of his contract, what might happen in the future with him, and what a mess it was that got them to this point.

Releasing Griffin is not going to be a popular option for Washington next season due to the guarantees in his contract. Griffin was lucky enough to be drafted in the 2012 season when the concept of “no offsets” became a big clause in highly drafted rookie contracts. What that means is if the Redskins were to release Griffin, he would collect money from the Redskins and whatever other team in the NFL sign him. His fully guaranteed salary is  $3,269,877 in 2015. That makes the Redskins preferred option is the trade of Griffin where the guaranteed salary will transfer to the new team and thus save the Redskins a $3 million charge.

Finding a trade partner might not be the easiest thing for Washington. It is already a given they will not get value for RGIII. Not only does he look like a broken QB, but he only has one more season under contract. A team can exercise an option for 2016, but the cost of that option is the cost of the 2015 Transition tag for QBs, which will likely be in excess of $15 million. A team only has until May 3 of 2015 to exercise the option and while it is only initially guaranteed for injury, Griffin’s injury history will likely make the price too steep.


So any team trading for him will almost certainly look at this as a one year marriage and not pick up the option. That means you need to have the confidence that your organization can spend the time “fixing” him and signing him long term to a reasonable contract if you do fix him. When Mark Sanchez was released by the Jets this season he found lukewarm interest in free agency, eventually settling for a low guarantee/cost contract from the Eagles who were willing to take that chance due to his potential upside. His most likely destination would be to a team with no quarterback that may not have the potential to draft one this season. Teams like the Jets, Rams, and Texans would be the most likely fits to take a one year flier on him. You might throw the Vikings and even Eagles into that mix, though I cant see another Washington/Philadelphia trade occuring.

Washington has come under a great deal of scrutiny for this decision. A number of people believe you should make him play through this and force him to learn while others realize he wasn’t playing at an NFL level and needed to be benched. The Redskins needed to make this move for the future of their team, as crazy as it sounds. They have 52 other players on that team to consider and the way Griffin acted at times after these games he likely alienated every one of them.  It is one thing to believe in a young, potential superstar, but its another to have a failing player bring down a whole organization.

Playing him at this point was not going to help or hurt his trade value, but the threat of injury was real and that would destroy any trade value which made this move a must in my opinion. His lack of awareness was startling last week and there is almost no chance his body would hold up to that beating again. To get anything for him he has to be healthy and this is the only way to accomplish this.

Thats not to say Washington has handled him well. They are the most dysfunctional organization in the NFL and everything they did with him just added to the mess. The Redskins gave him the keys to the kingdom before he really ever took a snap in the NFL. Head coach Mike Shanahan tailored an offense to his skillset in 2012 and Griffin exceeded all expectations as he was clearly the most successful of the top QB’s drafted that season. But success seemed to go to his head and the Redskins protection of him just fed into that. Shanahan had a similar issue with Jay Cutler in Denver where his constant praise just added to an attitude that still follows Cutler to this day.

RGIII was injured and had a falling out with Shanahan that offseason. Washington’s handling of the QB at that point was ridiculous. Because of his shortcomings in running a pro style offense he needed a real offseason of work to continue to grow in 2013. The injury made that impossible, at least from a physical standpoint. They still decided he should be the starter at the opening of the regular season, a decision that seemed to come from the owner. Griffin didn’t look healthy and regressed, falling far behind fellow draft mate Andrew Luck who improved tremendously in year 2. Eventually RGIII got the coach fired.

Under new coach Jay Gruden, RGIII looked even more unprepared than he did under Shanahan. He looked terrible and these last few weeks looked as if he was mentally checking out of the games. His coach undressed him in a press conference after Griffin ripped the effort level of his team, in a bizarre scene that showed how far this rift had gotten. Gruden made a stand and had to have ownerships back at this point to keep the other 52 guys focused on a future that would include the coach but not the QB.

The trade for RGIII will likely go down as one of the worst draft trades in the NFL. Though I do think a fair argument could be made for the Rams not trading away that pick the fact was they fleeced the Redskins in terms of value. The trade illustrates the premium that teams put on the QB position as no other recent trades have come close to that kind of one sided nature.  RGIII has now failed with two coaches, both of whom could not stand him by the end of the season, and rubbed most of his teammates the wrong way. Its a disaster.  In the end the Redskins paid a huge price, got one playoff game, and two years of headaches and drama because of it.



Ranking the Super Bowl Champions

[adsenseyu1] For those of you who enjoy the Power Rankings I do during the season here is a look at the efficiency rankings of all the Super Bowl champions. For those unfamiliar with the rankings what these percentiles measure is the percent a team either scores or prevents an opponent from scoring above or below their schedules average for the season. So for example a team with a scoring efficiency of 25% means that team scored 25% more points per game than their opponents gave up that season. A defensive score of 25% means that a team held their opponents to 25% below their normal scoring output on the season. The stats are for regular season only.

While most people consider the 1985 Bears the greatest team of all time they actually only rank 4th on this system. The top team is the little praised Redskins who really dominated the league in 1991. The team’s opponents allowed just 19 PPG while the Redskins scored over 30. It’s the top performing scoring unit in the history. The defense wasn’t a slouch either holding teams to 24% below their averages.

The 1996 Packers, who looked like they were going to be the next dynasty franchise, ranked second with a tremendous all around tea. The 73 Dolphins rank 3rd and were far superior to the undefeated team in 1972 that faced a much easier schedule. The 75 Steelers fill out the top 10.  The worst SB champions have been the 70 Colts, 11 Giants, 07 Giants, 01 Patriots, and 87 Redskins, though it’s the bottom 4 that are teams that really surprise as being on the list of champions.

The most productive scoring came from the 91 Redskins, 77 Cowboys, 98 Broncos, 09 Saints, and 94 49ers. Only two teams had a below average scoring output and those were the 01 Patriots and 02 Buccaneers. The 90 Giants, 00 Ravens, and 81 49ers would round out the bottom 5. Defensively the best unit was not the 85 Bears or 00 Ravens but the 73 Dolphins who just edge ot the 02 Buccaneers, who I think people forget when discussing the great defensive teams. The 66 Packers, 85 Bears, and 75 Steelers are the other best ranking teams. At the bottom of the list are the 06 Colts, 11 Giants, 09 Saints, 07 Giants, and 98 Broncos, all of whom were below average.

Perhaps not so surprisingly is that no teams from the current era are close to the top of this list as the NFL is filled with parity and a lack of dominant teams that can run all the way to a title. The 2004 Patriots just cracked the top 10 and the next closest team is the 00 Ravens at 19 and 10 Packers at 22. Of the 13 lowest ranking teams, 6 are from 2001 onwards.

The current era will be represented better by either the Seahawks or Broncos either of whom would rank in the top 20. The Broncos would have the best scoring output of any team on this list but would also grab the “title” for worst defense and it would be by a wide margin. It would be unlikely  to see either mark broken anytime soon. The Seahawks defense would rank 9th all time, which is pretty impressive considering the way the rules have skewed to the offenses in this era.

The table below should be fully sortable.

Super Bowl Champion Rankings

11991Washington Redskins60.77%24.51%85.28%
21996Green Bay Packers45.84%32.45%78.29%
31973Miami Dolphins30.38%45.89%76.27%
41985Chicago Bears31.03%43.10%74.13%
51975Pittsburgh Steelers24.49%42.65%67.14%
61984San Francisco 49?ers36.26%28.10%64.36%
71966Green Bay Packers18.57%43.55%62.12%
81999St. Louis Rams39.72%22.12%61.84%
91994San Francisco 49?ers48.21%10.52%58.73%
102004New England Patriots31.97%26.73%58.70%
111969Kansas City Chiefs16.30%40.95%57.25%
121977Dallas Cowboys54.44%2.23%56.67%
131972Miami Dolphins19.37%35.96%55.33%
141993Dallas Cowboys29.30%25.13%54.43%
151979Pittsburgh Steelers30.93%23.05%53.98%
161997Denver Broncos39.62%13.61%53.23%
171989San Francisco 49?ers27.18%25.88%53.06%
181998Denver Broncos51.09%-0.48%50.61%
192000Baltimore Ravens5.62%42.35%47.97%
201992Dallas Cowboys31.01%16.59%47.60%
211971Dallas Cowboys40.34%6.54%46.88%
222010Green Bay Packers12.70%33.37%46.07%
231978Pittsburgh Steelers13.02%33.05%46.07%
241995Dallas Cowboys29.72%15.68%45.40%
251967Green Bay Packers16.18%28.73%44.91%
262008Pittsburgh Steelers9.30%35.15%44.45%
272009New Orleans Saints50.80%-6.76%44.04%
281976Oakland Raiders31.73%12.10%43.83%
292002Tampa Bay Buccaneers-2.94%45.79%42.85%
302005Pittsburgh Steelers22.48%20.24%42.72%
311986New York Giants13.39%27.10%40.49%
321982Washington Redskins13.18%24.98%38.16%
331990New York Giants1.17%36.89%38.06%
341968New York Jets33.21%4.01%37.22%
352003New England Patriots12.74%23.67%36.41%
361974Pittsburgh Steelers8.66%25.50%34.16%
371981San Francisco 49?ers6.42%24.07%30.49%
381983Oakland Raiders20.68%8.27%28.95%
391988San Francisco 49?ers19.16%8.88%28.04%
402006Indianapolis Colts32.58%-7.96%24.62%
411980Oakland Raiders12.23%6.33%18.56%
422012Baltimore Ravens11.44%6.74%18.18%
431987Washington Redskins7.13%10.26%17.39%
442001New England Patriots-1.54%12.58%11.04%
452007New York Giants9.94%-0.61%9.33%
462011New York Giants15.29%-7.09%8.20%
471970Baltimore Colts8.02%-0.07%7.95%

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The Redskins, Bruce Allen, and Mike Shanahan…


It was late in 2009 and early in 2010 when the Washington Redskins made the announcements that Bruce Allen would take over as General Manager of the Redskins and Mike Shanahan would become the Head Coach/VP of Football Operations. Essentially this was a co-GM position in which Allen would handle the contracts and Shanahan would have final say on football matters. At a time when most teams were moving away from giving head coaches this kind of power the Redskins opted into such an arrangement because the team had struggled to a 4-12 season and had gone through numerous coaches with little success in the prior 17 years since Joe Gibbs stepped down for the first time in 1992.

The Redskins were an organization looking for credibility when they made the hires. Gibbs brought them that credibility on the field when he was re-hired but the Redskins were long considered a bit of a mess when it came to front office decisions on player contracts. Allen, who came from a legendary family, had a strong negotiating background of reigning in Raiders owner Al Davis during the Raiders final glory run, and somewhat tearing down the Tampa Bay Buccaneers while still being competitive in the mid 00’s. Shanahan’s success in Denver as a head coach was incredibly impressive. In 14 seasons Shanahan had won two Super Bowls, finished with double digit wins on seven occasions, and only twice had a losing record. He was considered a genius with the QB position with an eye for offensive talent.

However, just four years into their run with the Redskins, it appears like things should be over for both men. The Redskins are struggling through a 3-10 season, their 3rd losing season under the Allen/Shanahan team. The success of the two is pretty much the distant past. Shanahan is now 48-61 in his last 7 seasons as a head coach. Allen is 59-71 for his career since being given the General Manager position in Tampa Bay. The team has been nothing short of a disaster for four years and the front office track record is close to the bottom of the NFL.

Their first major personnel decision was to trade for a 34 year old, washed up Donovan McNabb to be Shanahan’s QB in 2010. The Redskins surrendered a 2nd round draft pick and a 4th round pick in 2011 for McNabb. McNabb had been paid a $6.2 million roster bonus  and was set to earn another $5.5 million in compensation for the year. McNabb struggled so the team signed him to a contract extension giving him another $3.5 million thinking it would get him to play better. Just four weeks after the extension was signed McNabb was benched by the head coach. The season was uncapped so the salary cap consequences were not as dire as normal,  but they still wasted a large sum of money and two draft picks on McNabb. They would recover some 6th round picks when they traded McNabb in 2011 to the Vikings.

Allen would also make a decision that would end up haunting the Redskins organization for two full years. During his time in Tampa, Allen would insert voidable clauses into contracts that would cause their bonus money to all accelerate into the current league year. Allen called this the “I-4 Off Ramp” and was a creative method to use up cap space in a time when salary cap spending was a CBA requirement plus make it easy to release or trade a player later in his career. The League had “advised” all franchises to not explicitly use the 2010 uncapped season as a method to create cap room in the future when the salary cap returned. Allen and Shanahan failed to heed the warnings of the league and used the “I-4 off Ramp” on two overpaid players signed by the former regime.

The Redskins would go on to take a $21 million salary cap charge and $15 million salary cap charge all at once for DT Albert Haynesworth and CB DeAngelo Hall by using this clause to modify their contracts.   in addition the team accelerated $3.9 million of old bonus money for the two players by utilizing these clauses. Because the year was uncapped future prorations of $8.5 million per year were avoided for the Redskins. Furthermore the move allowed them to trade Haynesworth in 2011, since his dead money had been reduced to $0 with the clauses. Had they picked up his option as intended the dead money charge on that trade would have amounted to $19.8 million.

Though the NFL allowed these restructures to take place they internally noted how they violated the spirit of the uncapped season to create an unfair advantage in future years. Washington would suffer a $36 million dollar salary cap penalty split between the 2012 and 2013 seasons. It was a devastating blow to the Redskins who had begun planning in 2011 as if their contracts put them free and clear and sent their salary cap back on a downward spiral. While some can argue the merits of the penalty, it is a situation that 30 other GM’s were able to avoid and many of them had bad contracts on their teams as well.

The Redskins continued to go the trade route moving pieces for DE Adam Carriker of the Rams and LT Jammal Brown of the Saints. The trade for Brown was complex with compensation being tied to both McNabb’s and Brown’s performance. Brown was coming off hip and hernia surgery and had missed all of 2009.  Brown played in 15 games in 2010 but battled hip problems all season. For whatever reason the Redskins decided to extend him anyway in 2011 to a 5 year $20.25 million dollar contract with $5.5 million guaranteed and just $250,000 per year in compensation tied to being active. Brown would only play 12 games in 2011 and none in 2012 before seeing his contract void.

Some of the intriguing signings would continue over the next three years. The Redskins signed WR Josh Morgan, who had never had 700 receiving yards in a season and was injured all of 2010, to a lucrative contract in 2011 worth $5.75 million a season for two years. This contract was close to the top of the number 2 receiver market and began the use of the voidable year provision for cap purposes. This type of contract would be the exact opposite of the “I-4 Off Ramp” with large sums of dead money existing in fake contract years in order to lower the cap charges at the front end of the contract. Per my records,  the Redskins currently have four such voidable contracts on their books. In two years Morgan has not produced 700 yards combined.

The team re-signed 27 year old LB London Fletcher to a two year contract with three voidable years worth over $5 million a season. Fletcher consistently grades as one of the worst linebackers in the NFL. The team signed DE Stephen Bowen formerly of the Cowboys to a high end contract for the position despite a career as an average player.  Perhaps the strangest of all was the decision to re-sign TE Fred Davis to a $2.5 million dollar contract filled with added incentives and by week two of the season demoting him to the bench.

That doesn’t mean all the signings have been bad.  They signed Pierre Garcon of the Colts to a number 1 type contract worth $8.5 million a season.  Though the Redskins likely overpaid, Garcon already broke the 1,000 yard mark this season and has developed into a valuable receiver. The team also paid a hefty price for former Giants DT Barry Cofield and he has been one of the most consistent players on their team.  Still the misses seem to far outweigh the hits.

The biggest decision the regime made came in 2012 when they negotiated a trade with the St Louis Rams to trade up to draft Robert Griffin III to be the teams franchise QB. It was one of the most lopsided, in terms of picks, trades in NFL history. The Redskins agreed to trade the 6th and 39th overall pick in 2012 and their first rounders in both 2013 and 2014. The pick in 2013 was the 22nd and the 2014 pick currently looks to be the 2nd overall pick.

In 2001 the Falcons traded the 5th and 48th overall picks plus WR Tim Dwight to acquire the 1st overall pick in the draft, which turned out to be Mike Vick. In 2004 the Giants traded the 4th and 65th overall pick plus a 1st and 5th rounder the following year for the rights to Eli Manning, the number one selection in the draft. Just one slot behind the RGIII pick the Browns only gave up the 4th, 118th, 139th, and 211th picks to select Trent Richardson.  The Redskins addition of a 2nd round pick and a 3rd first round pick was almost unheard of, especially for a player not considered the best QB in the draft.

Griffin played extremely well in 2012 and my own opinion is if you truly believe in a player at that position than no price is too high, but it is hard to believe that the Redskins were unable to get a better deal than the one that was accepted. By 2013 RGIII was injured, far less effective, and no longer got along with Shanahan. Griffin, who reportedly has a very close relationship with owner Daniel Snyder, has gone around the coach to voice his displeasure with the staff. Griffin was pulled from a blowout loss this week and may be benched for backup Kirk Cousins, a move made as much in spite by Shanahan as it will be about the future of the organization.

When Allen accepted the job the assumption was that he would utilize a strategy similar to the one in Tampa Bay where he tried to accumulate salary cap space and draft picks. From 2004 to 2008 his Buccaneers averaged nearly 9.5 picks a draft. Perhaps that is part of a disconnect between Shanahan and Allen. Shanahan, interested in winning now and holding football power, maybe was the voice behind using so many draft selections for veteran players. In Washington the Redskins have averaged just over 8 picks a draft with only 2 picks a draft coming in the first 3 rounds.  In the 2005 to 2008 part of his tenure in Tampa, 3.5 picks a draft came in first 3 rounds. Needless to say cap space has remained at a premium in Washington.

The draft process has met with mixed results at best. Ryan Kerrigan, Trent Williams, Alfred Morris, and RGIII are keepers that would start anywhere.  Morris is clearly the teams’ best value pick coming in the 6th round of the draft. Beyond those 4 their drafts have produced just 4 starters for the Redskins- WR Leonard Hankerson, LB Perry Riley, CB David Amerson, and S Baccari Rambo, none of whom would likely start on most clubs in the NFL.

The bottom line is that after four seasons the Redskins are right back to square one. They still lose far more often than they win. They have continual contract problems and salary cap issues. They have failed to replenish the team with quality starters in the draft. The owner still more or less meddles in football affairs and is the sounding board for his star players.

Neither Allen nor Shanahan should emerge from this season as employees of the Redskins. Considering how poorly the two have fared for years the only reason they will be employed in the NFL in the future is because they have great name value, unfortunately its name value with continually diminishing returns.Another team would be crazy to give Shanhan the type of power he had in Denver and Washington. The Broncos defense had similar deficiencies to the ones in Washington and both are more or less Shanahan visions. At this point he should never be more than a coach.

Unfortunately for Redskins fans the hope that their owner was going to back off the Jerry Jones model seems to be dwindling as well. It’s likely going to be a long offseason in Washington, one in which they watch the Rams take a potential impact player while the Redskins patiently wait until numerous players have been selected before they get to the podium to make a selection.




Redskins Restructure Contract of DE Stephen Bowen to Gain Cap Space


The Washington Redskins, one of the teams we believed was in danger of not being cap compliant when league accounting rules changed, have restructured the contract of DE Stephen Bowen to gain the needed cap room. The Redskins dropped Bowen’s P5 from $3.9 million to the league minimum and converted the balance to a signing bonus that will be prorated over the final 3 years of the contract. The moves saves Washington $2.04 million in salary cap space in 2013.

View Stephen Bowen’s Contract and Salary Cap Page


Nine Teams Need to Make Cap Related Moves


The NFL salary cap is a major concern for teams at two times every season. The first is the most talked about time, which is the month of February when teams are ripping apart rosters to become salary cap compliant for the new League Year and to create the maximum possible cap room for free agency. Once free agency ends the overall importance of the cap is low because only the top 51 contracts plus dead money charges count towards the salary cap.

The second most important time for the cap is right now.  By 4 PM on September 4 the cap valuations change. For salary cap purposes rosters expand to include everyone under contract. At a minimum that pushes the roster to 53 players plus a Practice Squad, which every team fields. The cost of two players adds at least $810,000 to the roster and a PS costs a team another $816,000.  For teams that have players on Reserve lists such as PUP or IR the salary for the players who are replacing them will now count. For some teams that can be an additional 4 to 5 players that will now be accounted for. It quickly adds up and it all adds up by Wednesday.

While most teams want to carry upwards of $5 million in season salary cap space for emergencies, I just want to focus on the teams that will be around the $3 million mark come Wednesday based on how things stand right now. Based on the top 51 cap room as of the morning of the 29th , nine teams will have  less than $3 million in cap space on Wednesday. Of those nine, four will not be cap compliant unless players inside the top 51 are released.  Those four are, in order, the Rams, Chiefs, Texans, and Redskins. The other five teams are the Vikings, Seahawks, Chargers, Giants, and Bears.

With that in mind I wanted to look at these teams and moves they may need to make cap space.

Rams– The Rams are projected to about $1.2 million over the salary cap based on their current roster construction. I would not expect the Rams to release anyone of note but instead restructuring deals for cap relief. The most likely candidates are Cortland Finnegan ($9 million base salary), Sam Bradford ($9 million base salary), and Chris Long ($7.25 million base salary).  Long already restructured once so its less likely they would go to him again. With questions marks surrounding Bradford and already over $10 million in dead money on the books in 2014, Finnegan is the guy to watch. Converting $7 million of his base into a signing bonus will save the team $5.5 million in cap room and increase his 2015 dead money from $2 million to $5.5 million, which could be considered acceptable.

Chiefs– The Chiefs will be around $500,000 over the cap if moves are not made in their top 51. There are minimal avenues for savings for the team, due to high offseason spending and the fact that they retained Branden Albert on the Franchise tag rather than extending or trading him. There is no one of note that could be released or even threatened with release to really help them. The logical solution would seem to be having Tamba Hali restructure his contract. He carries a $12.25 million dollar base salary and just cutting and prorating the difference would save the team about $4 million in cap room.

If they fail to reach an agreement the other candidate is Alex Smith, and for long term cap planning probably makes more sense to approach than Hali. Smith earns $7.5 million this season and next season. Because the contract only has two years remaining proration is limited over two years, but that could be enough to easily save at least $3 million in cap this season by converting $6 million of salary to a bonus. That would make his cap charge just $10.5 million in 2014, still a bargain for a starting QB. Though neither side will want to extend that deal they could also go the void year route for proration purposes if they wanted.

Texans– Houston will only be about $300,000 over the cap, though that number does not include the replacement body they likely need to carry to cover Antonio Smith’s one game suspension, which would increase the cap to $700,000 over. They could carry 52 players for the week for cap purposes if necessary. The Texans are an older team so extensions to players like Wade Smith are not really a possibility. Jonathan Joseph makes $7.5 million this season and might be a person they look at for a bonus conversion, though that will put the last two seasons of his contract very high in terms of cap charges. This could be a team that also ends up releasing some of the veteran players close to minimum salaries to pick up small amounts of cap.

Redskins– Washington will be right up against the cap and don’t really have much in the way of high salaries to reduce as their situation is compromised by the cap penalties more than expensive contracts. LB London Fletcher is the one player who should be given a pay cut from his $5.5 million base, but that seems unlikely at this point. His contract already contains numerous void years for proration purposes so it’s possible they could simply defer the cap charges to next season. The other person to watch out for would be WR Santana Moss.  Releasing Moss will clear $2.25 million from the books. The team could also consider asking Chris Baker, playing on a non-guaranteed $1.323 million tender to reduce his salary by a few hundred thousand.

The Other Five (Bears, Giants, Chargers, Seahawks, Vikings)

I lumped these four together since they should all be cap compliant even after the rosters expand but wanted to touch on them briefly

Chicago we have touched on many times before and just yesterday wrote about why moving WR Earl Bennett is a likely move. The Bears have multiple avenues for cap relief if they want it via extensions, but it seems as if they will weed out some of the lower cost players like Bennett that they feel will not make a contribution rather than extending players.

The Giants cap was dealt a big blow when they lost their starting Safety for the season, but they should be ok. Players in danger could be Bear Pascoe, Louis Murphy, Aaron Ross, etc…They could also work with Chris Snee or Antrell Rolle if needed for cap space….

The Chargers could be in trouble because they already have a massive list of players on IR and PUP. Releasing Max Starks would save the team over $2 million based on cap treatment of LTBE’s and releasing WR Eddie Royal would save $3 million. Royal might be asked to take a pay cut instead.

Seattle is not in terrible cap position, though they currently have a IR number that will eat into it a bit if settlements are not reached. I’d imagine they will continue to cut veterans for cap relief. Releasing special teamer Heath Farwell saves the team $1.5 million and looking at FB Michael Robinson could save $2.5 million. Both could also be asked to take paycuts.

The Vikings might look to simply cut ties with some projected backups making over the minimum (Desmond Bishop, Fred Evans, AJ Jefferson) if they felt they needed more cap space. They will gain some added cap room once Jerome Feltons suspension is official and considering they are right around $3 million in room may not see the need to make any moves.


Contract Year Series, Brian Orakpo


Brian Orakpo #98 OLB, Washington Redskins

by Paul Carrozzo

Potentially the most sought after free agent at the end of this season. Orakpo combines supreme production with the pedigree of the #13 pick of the 2009 Draft. A Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate in ’09, Orakpo racked up a Redskin franchise record 11 sacks and added 51 tackles. In 2010 the Redskins moved to a 3-4 defense and he responded with very similar numbers in 2010 and 2011 (8.5 sacks, 56 tackles 2010; 9.0 sacks, 60 tackles 2011). In the Week #17 loss to Philadelphia, Orakpo tore his left pectoral muscle. Consistently drawing double-teams, he dedicated the offseason to come back stronger in 2012. The Redskins took it easy on their prized OLB in the preseason but to no avail as Orakpo re-tore the left pectoral muscle only two games into the 2012 season.

A healthy Orakpo is a Top-10 OLB in the NFL. If he produces on his stated goal of Defensive Player of the Year he stands to bring in a haul of $11mm+ APY. That is a big “if”, however, head coach Mike Shanahan feels that his 27 year old star “looks good as ever”.

Estimated New Contract: 4 years, $41.5mm

Five Teams that Need to Create Cap Space


Earlier today we looked at the teams that were set to gain cap room on June 2nd and how that would move teams such as the Oakland Raiders from the danger zone to being comfortable enough to function once the regular season begins. What about the rest of the NFL and teams who are not going to benefit for the June 1 cut?

I had written a piece a month or two back detailing the difference in reported vs effective cap space. Feel free to follow the link, but to summarize we need to account for the fact that every team in the NFL at this point needs enough money to, at a minimum, expand the roster from 51 to 53 players and field a Practice Squad. In addition most NFL teams still need to sign their first round draft selection(only 4 have done so thus far), all of whom will impact the salary cap. The two additional players will cost a minimum of $810,000 and the full Practice Squad will cost $816,000, so $1.626 million is almost mandatory to function come September. So a number of teams are in danger. Lets look at the top 5:

Washington Redskins– Washington has $1.413 million in cap room and will gain about $170,000 more when Rob Jacksons suspension begins at the start of the year. Luckily they do have all their rookies signed but right now their effective cap room is -$28,000 and that’s assuming they don’t have to replace anyone during the course of the year on IR or PUP. The Skins have already reworked a number of deals to get under the cap and the logical move would be to release London Fletcher at some point during training camp.  Cutting Fletcher should free up $4.8 million in cap room after June 1. I would think its going to be a big uphill battle for him to make the team just based on finances alone. If they intend to keep him he needs to take a paycut otherwise the Redkins will need to approach their defensive or offensive linemen about restructuring their contracts.

Chicago Bears– Like the Redskins they have their entire draft class under contract so that is a big help. Their effective cap space is $145,000 so they likely need to free up another $2-3 million to begin the season. The Bears are an interesting team, probably worthy of their own post, because they are in limbo. They are in many ways a rebuilding team looking to rebrand itself, but at the same time they won 10 games in 2012 and have a  number of high priced players on the team. Their logical cap relief points are to work on extensions for QB Jay Cutler, WR Brandon Marshall, and DT Henry Melton. Cutler and Melton are in their walk year and Marshall is under contract for one more season. CB Charles Tillman, a Pro Bowler last season at 31, is in the final year of his contract while DE Julius Peppers carries a massive cap hit that could be renegotiated downward. LB Lance Briggs also carries a high cap charge with 2 years remaining on his deal The question is do any of them factor into the future and if the answer is no the Bears will have to look further down the roster at potential cuts such as WR Devin Hester or K Robbie Gould to create the extra space they need.

San Francisco 49’ers– San Francisco sits with $2.6 million in cap room but still needs to sign their 1st round pick and also will need to account for the fact that at the least WR Michael Crabtree is going to wind up on temporary IR meaning they need to carry at least 54 players. Their effective cap is -$406,000 right now. As we discussed before extending DE Justin Smith would be an option but he is at a negotiating high point at a very advanced age which may scare the 49’ers. Tarell Brown and Donte Whitner are both in walk year, but as some pointed out to me on Twitter Whitner would likely not be a candidate for extension. Brown’s salary is probably not high enough to create the room San Francisco needs. Cutting Whitner saves the team $3.85 million in cap now that workouts are complete. That is the cushion they need to be cap compliant come September. Another option would be to look to bring Frank Gore’s salary down and throw him a bit more guaranteed over a 3 year period. Not likely but I guess its another option.

Houston Texans– Houston has  $2.8 million in cap to work with and still has their top 2 rookies to sign putting their effective cap space at only $300,000. Andre Johnson and Antonio Smith are two names they might be able to look to for cap relief. This is Smith’s last season under contract. Brian Cushing is a name that could also be extended but the cap relief there would likely be minimal and the same goes for G Wade Smith. This is a team that could be forced to make a tough decision or two either cutting a player they like or being forced to rework the contract of CB Jonathan Joseph, a good player but one whose price tag is probably now too high relative to the market. Like the Bears Houston is in a bit of a tough spot, though they are not in rebuilding mode. Most of their bigger price players are all important pieces of the team so its hard to envision them releasing anyone, but at the same time you have to be aware or your limits and the damage that can be done to the future by maintaining the status quo on a team that may have peaked two years ago when Matt Schaub got injured.

New York Giants– Sitting with $3.3 million in cap room Id consider the Giants the last team that might be in trouble. They still have their first round pick to sign and a strong chance that Henry Hynoski starts the year on a reserve list which puts their effective cap space right around $400,000. The Giants are trying to give it one last go this year and have loaded their team up with Minimum Salary Benefit veterans and reworked contracts of some veteran players to try to keep the group as intact as possible. The Giants have three players with over $9 million in cap charges, the highest of which is Eli Manning at $20.65 million. The Giants most likely want to hold off as long as possible on doing anything with his contract. The most logical candidate is Chris Snee who has reworked his contract numerous times with the Giants in his career and with 2 seasons remaining on his contract could be a cap casualty is he doesn’t look good in camp. His cap figure is $11 million with dead money of $4.3 million if cut beyond June 1. Antrel Rolle should also be in danger for similar reasons. The Giants situation may get even more complicated because they want to sign WR Victor Cruz to a long term contract and it seems as if WR Hakeem Nicks is going to want a new deal done as well. That puts the team in a position where cuts make more sense than adding more dead money to the 2014 cap by way of restructures.