Washington Redskins: Moves They Can Make with $7 Million in Cap Space

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Washington Redskins: Moves They Can Make with $7 Million in Cap Space
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When it was ruled that the Washington Redskins would have to absorb half of their $36 million cap penalty in 2012, there was a great deal of nervousness in the air.

The signings of Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan had suggested that the Redskins’ front office were unconcerned about the cap hit, and the multiple additions to the secondary in the wake of O.J. Atogwe and LaRon Landry’s departure only served to confirm this.

When the NFL’s ruling was upheld, there was a worry that some fan favorites would suffer as a result. Chris Cooley’s place looked in danger, as did Santana Moss'.

However, it didn't transpire, and Pro Football Talk reported that the Redskins are $6.97 million under the cap, as of June 22nd. This is also inclusive of the $18 million cap hit they are forced to take this year.

This is undoubtedly excellent news, and goes to show that Bruce Allen knew exactly what he was doing all along. Obviously, this is only to be expected from someone tasked with balancing the books of a billion-dollar franchise, but stranger things have happened.

Despite the hopeful title at the beginning of the page, the encouraging number with “million” written after it isn’t telling the whole story.

There remains the small matter of signing Robert Griffin III, as well as third-round pick Josh LeRibeus. If the Redskins are waiting for Andrew Luck’s contract particulars to be revealed—and it certainly looks that way—before starting the negotiations with Griffin, you can expect to wait until July 15th, right up to the new deadline day for rookies.

Patrick McDermott/Getty Images
Robert Griffin III has yet to sign, and his contract will eat up a lot of the cap space.

However, if the Redskins choose to take the matter into their own hands, they may be able to use the cap penalty as a negotiating tool when discussing Griffin’s deal.

LeRibeus will likely count for around $700,000 against the cap this year, possibly even front-loading it a little to take some of the heat away from 2013, which leaves $6.09 million.

Griffin’s deal will need to count for no more than $5 million against the cap in both 2012 and 2013, which leaves the Redskins $1.09 million below the cap for 2012.

However, as I mentioned earlier, if they can use the penalty to their advantage, they may be able to actually pay Griffin less, or at least load his contract with performance-based incentives that could save the franchise money in the short-term while they recover from the cap scandal.

If the Redskins can somehow get Griffin’s cap hit down to $4 million this year, then the $2.09 million that remain should stand them on solid ground if last year’s injury problems were to repeat themselves —as players on injury reserve will continue to drain precious cap space.

The cap penalty made an example of the Redskins, and proved that the NFL isn't averse to turning on its own—even when the contracts are previously approved, as the Redskins attest.

In spite of this, Bruce Allen has done an excellent job of strengthening the roster in the aftermath of the scandal, taking the hit like a champion.

When the season starts, the Redskins would do well to repay the NFL with some hits of their own.

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