With Perry Riley not Signed The Redskins have 2 Glaring Holes at ILB

The Washington Redskins knew they would have a huge hole to fill in the middle of their defense after aging LB London Fletcher announced his retirement.  What they didn’t see coming was they may lose both of their inside LB’s from last season as the Perry Riley contract talks seemingly have hit a wall as of late and free agency opens next Tuesday.

Perry Riley is looking for a multi-year deal in which he will be paid more than what Fletcher made the last two seasons (around the $6-6.5 million a year range last year). With the market being set high already for linebackers and the salary cap increase causing asking prices to climb at every position, the Redskins will likely let Riley go out and see what he can find in free agency (unprotected). Basically what that means is Perry Riley will either be able to use any offers he may get from other teams to get what wants out of the Redskins or; sign a deal with another team.

After the Redskins placed the franchise “exemption tag” on Brian Orakpo, the amount of available cap is somewhere in the ballpark of $22 million. That could change if Orakpo signs a multi-year deal soon, in which case his salary cap hit would be a lot cheaper than the mandatory $11.5 million (approximate) a year salary the tag will bring him now for just one year. In either case, the Redskins can’t afford to pay Perry Riley $7 million+ a year with as many holes as they have to fill. This makes for a frightening scenario as the quality of reasonably priced middle linebackers isn’t the greatest, to begin with. If Riley were to sign elsewhere, the Redskins would be forced to sign a “stop gap” type of player to fill one of the ILB spots until they could either have enough cap space next year or draft another ILB.

That would mean no defensive signal caller would be returning from a year ago to lead the team on the field, a thought I was honestly already having when Fletch retired but an even worse scenario without the guy who played next to London for the last few years. At the same time, I realize that Perry Riley hasn’t shown All-Pro type skills at this stage in his career (even though he’s wanting to be paid like an All-Pro) and can be replaced. If Riley puts the Redskins in a situation where they would be overpaying just to keep him, he will likely not be returning next year.

There are a few free agent inside linebackers that I was already eye-balling as possible replacements for Fletch including Wesley Woodyard, Jameel McClain, and Karlos Dansby, I’ll be talking more about those players I’ve been eye-balling in a post soon. The Redskins have a list of needs, and they will likely need to land 3-5 free agents in the coming days. Hopefully, Perry Riley and his people can come to an agreement with the Redskins in the final hour and avoid this whole ordeal altogether. While he may be replaceable, I would feel more comfortable with him…just at the right price.

The Redskins could also free more cap space be releasing players currently under contract, but will have to take “dead cap” hits in some cases including the case of defensive end Stephen Bowen, who is recovering from off-season microfracture surgery and is set to make $7 million this year. The Redskins can cut Bowen and save roughly $2 million but would incur a $5 million “dead cap” hit. They could also cut right guard Chris Chester who set to make $4.3 million this year (they would incur a $1.6 million dead cap hit) and save nearly $2.6 million as well. My personal opinion would be to restructure/extend the contract of Trent Williams, who is set to make $10,980,393 this year and give the Redskins some wiggle room, although there are side effects of restructuring as a long-term deal would make Trent cheaper in the present, but more expensive down the road.

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