The Redskins have just under $22 million in salary cap room four days before free agency starts. They likely are making their free agent plans based on having that $22 million to work with because they don’t have the flexibility to create very much more.
Yesterday I listed five players who could be cap casualties and if the Redskins cut all five of those players they would clear some $7.5 million in cap space. But there are no easy decisions on the list. Stephen Bowen could be an asset on the line if he can recover from microfracture surgery. Perhaps they can save some money there by reworking his contract and changing some of his $4.4 million salary to incentives. Three starting offensive linemen are on the list but it could be more expensive to replace them than they would be to keep them. The fact that Jarvis Jenkins, who is unlikely to be cut, appears on the list is a sign that they are running out of options to create cap space.
It’s possible that if they sign an offensive lineman they could release the starter at his position. If they can upgrade for about the same cap hit or perhaps slightly more, that could be a sound strategy.
Another option is restructuring but the possibilities there are few and the consequences are dangerous. They could redo Pierre Garçon’s contract and shave about $4 million off of his cap number. But that would push his cap numbers in 2015 and 2016 up to well over $10 million, not where you want to be with a receiver who will be pushing 30.
Trent Williams’ contract goes through 2015 and they could restructure that to create around $4 million in cap space. However that is not going to happen because it would push his 2015 cap number to around $18 million. That’s quarterback territory and it would force the Redskins to negotiate an extension with Williams from a position of weakness.
There are issues with other possibilities as well. They redid Barry Cofield’s contract last year and doing it again would not be a wise move as Cofield is nearing age 30. Robert Griffin III carries a $5.8 million cap number but the CBA prohibits contracts from being reworked until a player has been in the league for three years.
Finally, they could come to a long-term deal with Brian Orakpo, a move that would remove the franchise tag and the $11.5 million cap hit that accompanies it and replace it with a deal that would likely have a cap number a few million dollars lower. But the two sides were not close to a deal when the Redskins made the move to tag Orakpo and there is no reason to think that enough has changed since then to push the two sides closer to a deal.
Bruce Allen and company are simply going to have to make do with what they have in terms of cap room.