Value. It is one of the concepts that provides a competitive edge in an NFL world where a strict salary cap puts teams on a financially level playing field. It is a primary reason the Washington Redskins won the NFC East last year. And, it is a key for the Redskins in 2013 if they hope to repeat as NFC East champions for the first time since 1984.
Even with a league-imposed $18 million salary cap penalty, the Redskins have plenty of players whose low salary cap number gives them a fighting chance at retaining their division title.
Many of these players are undervalued because they are still on their rookie contracts, while some are veterans willing to take a pay cut to stay on a winning team.
With the concept of value in mind, let's look at some of the top Redskins who are outperforming their current contracts. This list will examine players and their 2013 salary cap numbers. Let me know in the comments who you think the most undervalued Redskins are.
All salary cap numbers taken from Spotrac.
There was hardly a more reliable target for Robert Griffin III last year than Santana Moss. Even though he was only on the field for limited minutes, Santana Moss led all Redskins with eight receiving touchdowns.
Moss was the consistent go-to receiver for Griffin when he needed a third-down conversion. Griffin's speed allowed him to get out of the pocket quickly and find open lanes to throw to Moss on short out routes.
Having recently turned 34, Moss still looks to have enough tread on his tires for another year in a similar role as a go-to receiver in passing situations. With Griffin possibly running less this year, he may lean more on the passing game to keep drives alive. From what we've seen last year, there's no one Griffin trusts more in key situations than Santana Moss.
DeAngelo Hall, love him or hate him, is back again in 2013. At a bargain basement price of $1.25 million against the salary cap though, it's hard to deny that the Redskins got a great deal.
Frequently the target of ridicule, DeAngelo Hall has often been criticized for taking too many chances that ended up in big plays for the other team. While part of that is Hall's playing style, he wasn't given much help from a pass rush that generated only 2.0 sacks per game according to ESPN.
However, Hall should be commended for his renewed sense of toughness in the last couple years. Whether it was knifing in to take down Adrian Peterson in the first quarter of Week 6 or manhandling Dez Bryant in the final game of the regular season, Hall brought a mentality that helped energize the defense and make up for their lack of talent in the secondary.
In 2013, Hall is putting team first. He said as much in his interview with NFL network in May.
I want to be a part of this football team. I've been a part of it when we weren't so good. So to finally be on the cusp of being great, I want to be a part of that. I was willing to take a pay cut and get back on this football team to help us win.
Coming off an Achilles tear in 2012 and a four-game drug suspension in 2011, Fred Davis has a lot to prove in 2013. One thing he's proven already, however, is that when he is on the field, he is one of the Redskins' most dangerous weapons.
The Redskins took their chances with Fred Davis in free agency this year and were rewarded when he came back for the discount price of $2.5 million on a one-year deal. Davis recorded 796 receiving yards in only 12 games back in 2011. If he can get back to that type of production, he could be looking at a long-term contract worth upwards of $5 million a year.
The Redskins finished 24th in third-down conversions last season according to ESPN. A healthy Fred Davis could provide more options for Griffin in key situations.
Now all 'Skins fans can do is hope that he can keep his head on straight and stay out of the courtroom.
Will Montgomery was one of the unsung heroes of the 2012 season. Montgomery was healthy every game in 2012 and was a key factor in the Redskins' league-leading 169.3 rushing yards per game.
It's hard to heap praise on a center, given their lack of measurables. That being said, the folks over at Pro Football Focus considered him the fifth-best center using a combination of their advanced statistics.
One of the biggest compliments I can give is that you never heard his name come up for bad snaps (except for that one against Seattle) or other miscommunications that plague so many NFL teams.
The Dallas Cowboys were so desperate for a center this year to replace Phil Costa that they drafted Travis Frederick two rounds higher than many analysts predicted (ESPN Insider access required). Fortunately, the Redskins are set at the center position for years to come.
Health and continuity are two of the most important factors for an offensive line to be successful. Will Montgomery has provided both of those things for the Redskins. They won't know how much they'll miss him until he's gone.
A fourth-round draft pick in 2010, Perry Riley has turned into another impressive inside linebacker opposite iron man London Fletcher.
Inside linebacker might not be the sexiest position out there, but when a team can't stop the most basic of run plays, it makes for a long day on the field.
Riley has shown he is more than capable in that regard, logging 129 tackles in 2012. Throw in 3.5 sacks, and you've got a solid playmaker anchoring the middle of your defense.
Perry Riley hits free agency next year and will be one of the key pieces the Redskins hope to retain on their defense moving forward. It's very possible he'll be making two to three times his current salary this time next year.
Another player still working off his rookie contract, Ryan Kerrigan has quickly become one of the most reliable producers for the Redskins defense.
Kerrigan played every snap on defense for his first 25 games, according to the Washington Times. The streak was only snapped when Jim Haslett pulled all defensive starters in the Week 11 beatdown of the Philadelphia Eagles.
With Brian Orakpo back from his pectoral tear, Kerrigan is hoping to post his first double-digit sack number in his third year in the NFL.
Kerrigan has been a playmaker outside of just sacks. With two interceptions and six forced fumbles over his first two years, Kerrigan has shown a knack for forcing turnovers that will lead to a big payday when it comes time for his new contract.
Until then, the Redskins can enjoy a great deal on a Pro Bowl-caliber player.
Kirk Cousins is the very definition of value. Drafted in the fourth round last year, he helped deliver two wins last season after Griffin went down with a sprain against the Ravens.
All that for less than 600 grand.
Even though he doesn't start, Kirk Cousins helped provide some of the best moments in the 2012 season. Without his game-tying two-point conversion at the end of the Ravens game, the Redskins would still be counting the days until their first NFC East division title of the 21st century.
Mike Shanahan's gamble of drafting two quarterbacks in his first three picks has paid off bigger than anyone could have imagined. Cousins will be a hot commodity if the Redskins decide to put him on the trading block. Until that time, the Redskins have a reliable backup quarterback who gives the Redskins confidence if disaster were to ever strike again.
Fullback might just be the most underappreciated position in all of football (apart from maybe long snapper). When Darrel Young inherited the position from Pro Bowler Mike Sellers, it was reasonable to expect a drop-off in production. What Young has done since taking over in 2011 has been remarkable.
Young is excellent in both run- and pass-blocking. He also possesses reliable hands to get quarterbacks out of trouble. Of the nine attempts thrown his way last year, Young hauled in eight of them, with two going for touchdowns.
Stats cannot give an accurate depiction of what a fullback brings to the team, which is possibly why they are consistently among the most underpaid players in the league. Young is already one of the best in the league at his position, and at 26, he is just hitting his prime.
The player many considered to be the steal of the draft, Alfred Morris has cemented his place in the Redskins backfield with a record-breaking rookie year.
There are many people who say that Morris is only a product of the Redskins coaching ingenuity and the talents of Robert Griffin III. Those people don't know what they're talking about.
Pro Football Focus ranked Morris the fifth-highest running back in elusiveness, and Morris finished third in yards after contact, behind only Adrian Peterson and Doug Martin. While it certainly didn't hurt that Morris had the Offensive Rookie of the Year standing next to him in the backfield, Morris showed he brings plenty to the table all by himself.
Running backs are a dime a dozen these days, but having one that can get you over 1,500 yards is pretty special. Being able to pay him a fraction of what he's worth is a downright steal.
Robert Griffin III. I think we all knew this was coming.
If 2012 has shown us anything about the NFL, it's that having a Pro Bowl-caliber quarterback still under a rookie contract is the biggest advantage a front office can have. Teams such as Miami, San Francisco and Seattle have made moves this offseason to secure top-flight talent due to the excess of cash that would normally go toward a quarterback's salary.
While Alfred Morris is a steal at around $500,000, his market value is probably less than $7 million a year if he continues to produce at a high level.
Robert Griffin III, however, would garner a market value upwards of $15 million a year (Tony Romo will average more than $17 million for the next seven years). The Redskins have avoided much of the pain of their salary cap penalty by having a Pro Bowl quarterback for $5 million this year.
Apart from the statistics, Griffin brings a confidence and enthusiasm that the Redskins haven't had in years. He has athleticism, supreme talent and a knack for making the right play at the right time. More than that, he brings hope, and you can't put a price on that.