Cap Penalty Could be Blessing in Disguise for Redskins

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This NFL off-season has been far from business as usual at Redskins Park. The Redskins have been cash-strapped as it pertains to the NFL’s salary cap ever since they had to take a second 18 million dollar cap penalty. To make things tougher this year, the Redskins had several key free agents to re-sign and some contracts that were not very team friendly.

Cap Penalty Could be Blessing in Disguise

Instead of being hasty and restructuring already bad deals to free up money, the Redskins have been calm, cool, and collective in their moves on new free agents as well as their own players. Moving on from the horrible deal DeAngelo Hall signed may have been the most important move of the year. Hall was set to make nearly $8 million in 2013 and now is signed to a much more affordable one-year deal.

Gone are the days when the Redskins over-payed players who didn’t even fit the team’s needs (similar to trying to put a square peg in a round hole). Mike Shanahan has made it a point to pursue players who are affordable and fit the needs of the team. There is still work to do to free up space for the rookies they will draft this year, but that may not be as hard as one might think when you factor in the new “51 rule”.

The “51 rule” basically states that only the top 51 salaries count against the salary cap. For example, when a player who makes 1 million a year is signed, the player who has the 51st highest salary will fall off the list, thus freeing up money on the back end. At this point, running back Alfred Morris does not count against next year’s cap since his salary is near the league minimum. The Redskins can get far enough under the cap to sign their draft picks by restructuring one or perhaps two deals on players who will be around for a while.

The Redskins were able to bring back 21 of 22 starters (most in the NFL, they only lost Madieu Williams) from a team that won the NFC East last year; the only key player they lost was Lorenzo Alexander (special teams player). Obviously, hurting for cap dollars has hindered the team’s ability to fill needs, but the cap penalty that kept the Redskins from free spending could, in fact, be one of the biggest blessings in disguise the franchise has ever seen.

Our friends over at Over the Cap agree they have this to say about the Redskins heading into the future:

In many ways, I think that the cap penalty was a blessing in disguise for the Redskins. For years the Redskins have overspent on mediocre talent, and this penalty kept them from doing just that this season. While they have spent more than I would have liked to see, they do have 47 under contract in 2014 and only $106 million or thereabouts committed to the cap. Those are very reasonable numbers for a team whose QB will likely begin entering his real prime, provided he is healthy.

That said, the Skins have work to do if they want to sign their rookies, as they are running right on the cap right now. I tend to think some will say that the Redskins will look to get RGIII more weapons in the passing game, but the smarter move will be to improve their defense which can upgrade at multiple positions. The defense has seven starters who are in their contract years and a number of key subs in their final year. Plus, the defense is not that good, to begin with. The Redskins relied too much on RGIII in 2012, and they need to balance that out somewhat by building a better defense. If the QB is healthy, they can get by with some patchwork pieces for the time being, as he looked so good last season he doesn’t need all great players around him, and he already has the running game to rely on. The trade for RGIII depleted their draft reserves, so using what they have and not getting caught up in trading games again is the team’s best chance for success.

The Redskins are moving in the right direction, and next year they will have 34+ million in cap space to fill the needs the team will have moving into the future and RGIII’s prime years.

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