Redskins' 2014 Salary Cap: Breaking Down Overall, Position-Specific Cap Space

Matthew BrownCorrespondent IJanuary 14, 2014

Redskins' 2014 Salary Cap: Breaking Down Overall, Position-Specific Cap Space

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    Consider it a new dawn for the Washington Redskins under new head coach Jay Gruden. He brings with him a fresh offensive mind and gets the benefit of having salary-cap space to build the team as he sees fit.

    With at least $30 million in projected room under the salary cap, he won't have to settle for free-agent leftovers or part ways with players he wants to retain.

    After having to hear about the cap penalties enacted on the Redskins over the last two seasons, the team can finally move forward. With any luck, the Redskins won't return to their ways of throwing money at their needs, but rather opt to make sound personnel decisions with their current financial boon.

    Here is a breakdown of the Redskins' cap situation for the 2014 offseason.

Salary Cap Breakdown

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    Preliminary projections put the salary cap for the 2014 season at $126.3 million, but it could go as high as $128 million when all is said and done. Based on those figures, the Redskins will have between $33 and $36 million based on the contracts currently on the books and the roughly $33.5 million in cap room they currently have, according to Spotrac.com.

    That figure could go up if the team decides to drop some dead weight by releasing a few unproductive players.

    Currently, the 'Skins have just five defensive starters under contract for the 2014 season, with Brandon Meriweather as a possible sixth if he exercises his contract option.

    Though the offense is less of a mess as talent is concerned, most of the offensive line will be overhauled, though it shouldn't consume a ton of cap space if the Redskins opt for quality over a recognizable name.

Quarterback

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    Robert Griffin III will be in his third season and in line to earn $5,759,754 despite finishing 2013 on the bench, which has more to do with Mike Shanahan than with his play.

    Kirk Cousins, who has taken control of the backup spot from Rex Grossman, will earn $688,172 in 2014.

    Grossman is a free agent and has seen his value dry up with the firing of Shanahan and his staff, which means the Redskins can either carry two quarterbacks during the season or pick up a cheap veteran.

    There is the possibility that Cousins is put on the trade block to entice some team in need of a capable quarterback. If Cousins is traded, the Redskins would then need to find two new quarterbacks instead of one.

    If that is the case, they're more likely to sign a veteran and use a late-round draft pick or sign an undrafted free agent to fill out the depth chart.

    Regardless of the need to fill in behind Griffin, quarterback is not a position the Redskins will be making significant changes to in 2014.

Running Back/Fullback

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    Though the scheme may change, Alfred Morris isn't headed for the unemployment line in 2014. Even though he has rushed for 2,888 yards in just two season, Morris' rookie contract is worth just $600,775 next season, making him an inexpensive workhorse.

    Roy Helu and Evan Royster are both slated to earn more than Morris in 2014, but only Helu is worth keeping around.

    Helu counts just $762,563 towards the cap next season and is a good, all-around back, perfect for Jay Gruden's West Coast offense.

    Chris Thompson and Jawan Jamison, both rookies in 2013, count for less than $1.1 million towards the cap next season, presuming they are kept around. Neither one did anything to warrant playing time, and Thompson squandered opportunities returning punts early in the season.

    Fullback Darrel Young's contract is worth close to $1.4 million next season.

    The running back position is remarkably low-priced considering the production over the last two seasons alone.

     

Tight End

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    Jordan Reed and Logan Paulsen account for roughly $2 million towards the 2014 cap, and there is little reason to expect the team to deviate from that projection.

    Reed had some good showings as a rookie before being sidelined due to a concussion, and Paulsen has reliable hands to go with solid blocking at the end of the line.

    Davis, who failed to show the Redskins much of anything in 2013, should not be retained for any other reason than as insurance for Reed. If that is the case, the deal should be chock-full of performance incentives and short on guarantees.

Wide Receiver

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    Aside from Pierre Garcon, who touts the second-highest cap number on the team at $9.7 million due in 2014, the 'Skins don't have much cash sunk into their receiving corps.

    Three other receivers are on the books for 2014, but only Leonard Hankerson and Nick Williams registered catches in 2013.

    Combined with Josh Bellamy, Hankerson and Williams account for just under $1.9 million towards next year's cap.

    Aldrick Robinson has yet to prove himself capable of being anything more than a deep threat, but he could find a role as a slot receiver at a reasonable cost.

    He only made $480,000 in 2013, and a little more than the league minimum is about what he's worth based on overall production. 

    There are some appealing free-agent options coming this offseason, but not too many the Redskins should throw a ton of money at.

    Denver's Eric Decker is likely to get some big offers, though it should not be overlooked that he played in a pass-heavy offense helmed by Peyton Manning. For Washington, they would do well to target Jeremy Maclin, who will be significantly cheaper due to missing 2013 with a torn ACL.

    Maclin, if healthy, would be the perfect receiver to play opposite Garcon, and a performance-bonus laden contract with a base value no more than $1.5 million would be perfect for both sides.

Offensive Tackle

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    Trent Williams is the top earner on the Redskins' books for 2014, making a well-deserved $10,985,198. Tom Compton is set to make $570,000 next season, but he has done nothing to earn playing time or even make a push at right tackle.

    Right tackle Tyler Polumbus is locked in at $1.1 million next season, but he should be used in a reserve role as opposed to a starter.

    Aside from Williams on the left, the entire offensive line needs to be upgraded, but it starts with finding a right tackle to fill out the bookends.

    Michael Oher is a big name set to hit the market in 2014, but he made close to $4 million in 2013 playing inconsistent at right tackle. If his price comes down, the Redskins should give him a look. He's better in pass protection than Polumbus, but Polumbus gets the edge in run blocking.

    Needless to say, they have not invested enough on the right side to be comfortable for the 2014 season.

Guard

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    All said, the Redskins have $7.6 million dedicated to starters Kory Lichtensteiger and Chris Chester for 2014. As effective as they and the rest of the offensive line were in paving the way for Alfred Morris on the ground, they were just as ineffective in pass protection and need to be upgraded.

    Behind Lichtensteiger and Chester is the trio of Josh LeRibeus, Adam Gettis and Maurice Hurt, none of whom logged significant playing time in 2014.

    The reserves have contracts worth a total of $2 million in 2014, and since they did not produce or prove valuable, they could be cut.

    However, getting rid of all of the depth makes little sense, even if LeRibeus and Gettis, who are naturally smaller and less geared toward straight-ahead ground attacks, were drafted to be zone-blocking linemen

    Hurt is big enough to keep around, and Gettis could easily bulk up and earn a backup job.

    Expect the addition of some depth to go with the possibly of replacing Chester, who showed himself incapable of holding up in pass protection in 2013. A solid guard would run the Redskins around $3 million if they find a bargain, but most anyone would be better than Chester.

Center

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    Will Montgomery is a serviceable center in the middle of a line that fell apart far too often during the 2013 season. Alongside guard Chris Chester, Montgomery failed to hold up against pressure and yielded several pressures and sacks.

    Montgomery's contract has him earning $3,425,000 in 2014, which isn't terrible but may be a little much considering his play.

    Behind Montgomery is long snapper Nick Sundberg, who does his job well enough and makes him worth the $912,500 he'll earn next season.

    The problem with replacing Montgomery is the same problem with replacing the rest of the offensive line. Where do you start? Is he the least of the Redskins' problems or just the beginning?

    Regardless, he could stand to have his deal restructured if the team deems him salvage-worth in 2014.

Defensive End

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    The Redskins have far too much money dedicated to their defensive ends relative to production, and 2014 is going to be a big year if they don't restructure any deals or cut anyone.

    Stephen Bowen's contract is worth $7,020,000, and Adam Carriker's is worth $6,760,416 next season. Bowen was unimpressive and is facing microfracture surgery this offseason to repair a torn PCL.

    Carriker missed 14 games in 2012 and the entirety of 2013, which is far too many games for someone earning what he is.

    Jarvis Jenkins was inconsistent in 2013, and Kedric Golston didn't define himself as more-than-solid depth. The pair amount to close to $2.7 million in 2014, which makes them cheaper options compared to Carriker.

    Carriker's injury history outweighs his value to the defense, and Jenkins was suspended for four games for PEDs, making both their own variety of liability.

    If Carriker is out, the draft is the best option to replace him and push Jenkins to perform, so the cap change would be negligible.

Nose Tackle

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    Barry Cofield has quietly established himself as one of the best nose tackles in the NFL. Nose tackles not named B.J. Raji or Vince Wilfork don't get the type of credit for their role in the 3-4 defense.

    Cofield may not pile up sacks or be the biggest guy at the position, but he plays well against the run and can put pressure on the quarterback.

    He had a down year in 2013, due in large part to playing with a fracture hand, but he is worth the $7,602,500 he is due in 2014. Chris Neild is under contract for 2014, earning just $656,475, but the Redskins would do well to bring Chris Baker back.

    Baker is both inexpensive and invaluable in short-yardage and goal-line situations. There shouldn't be much change at this position, and re-signing Baker is likely to run them less than $2 million per year.

Outside Linebacker

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    Washington's priority signing this offseason will be Brian Orakpo. He led the team in sacks in 2013 with 10 but has yet to set himself apart as an elite pass-rushing linebacker.

    Even so, he may look to earn $10 million per year over five years, which may be too pricey for the Redskins despite their cap space.

    Ryan Kerrigan, the team's second-best rush linebacker, is set to earn $2,774,711 between his base salary and signing bonus. Brandon Jenkins, a rookie in 2013, and Adrian Robinson account for just over $1 million towards the cap next season, leaving plenty of room to pursue Orakpo or a suitable replacement.

    Rob Jackson has proven his worth in both reserve and starting roles, but his value is in Washington and re-signed for just $715,000 in 2013.

    Since the Redskins may keep the 3-4 defense around, Orakpo becomes infinitely more valuable to them.

    He has a ton of potential to be a sack machine, but he lost the 2012 season due to injury and has yet to top the 11 sacks he notched as a rookie as a 4-3 rush linebacker.

    Expect Washington work hard to retain Orakpo, but they may only be willing to commit, at most, $9 million per year over five years, which is just below the $10 million mark the likes of Clay Matthews, DeMarcus Ware and Tamba Hali command.

    If the sides are unable to reach an agreement, the Redskins may opt to franchise Orakpo, which would be worth upwards of $12 million.

Inside Linebacker

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    With London Fletcher retiring, the Redskins absolutely must retain Perry Riley. Even if Fletcher wasn't retiring, Riley has been a solid presence in the middle and has his best years ahead of him.

    Behind Riley is an undistinguished group of young players who have spent the better part of their brief careers on injured reserve.

    Jeremy Kimbrough and Keenan Robinson have been in the league for a combined three seasons, all spent on IR. Both are under contract for the 2014 season but cannot be relied upon to stay healthy or be expected to be able to assume such a big role on defense given their experience.

    Kimbrough and Robinson account for just under $1.2 million combined, with mid-season addition Josh Hull adding another $645,000.

    The Redskins can probably afford to dedicate $2 million per year to Riley since he's been solid but not exceptional. Barring Fletcher's unlikely unretirement, the Redskins will seek another inside linebacker in the draft or sign a reasonably priced veteran.

Cornerback

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    Richard Crawford saw his season end before it began, landing on IR after injuring both his ACL and LCL during preseason. Though his ability on defense remains untested, his obvious value is in punt returns, where he averaged 19.5 yards per return in 2012.

    Crawford will earn $585,933 in 2014 and, along with Chase Minnifield earning $470,000, has a lot to prove, as well as a ton of potential.

    David Amerson will be the second corner on the team and is set to earn $875,205 in his second season. As it stands, he is the top corner on the roster since Josh Wilson and DeAngelo Hall are both free agents.

    Hall has more than earned a new contract as Washington's top corner, and judging by the one-year, $1.25 million deal he signed to come back before last season, he won't be too expensive.

    Though it won't be the same discount, Hall isn't likely to see more than four years at $3 million per year. He's in his 10th year, has been solid but not elite and simply doesn't command top dollar anymore.

    Wilson has been a disappointment since he arrived and won't be re-signed, nor should E.J. Biggers, who was versatile but underwhelming in 2013.

    Even with Hall and Amerson, the Redskins may pursue a corner in free agency, and the likes of Alterraun Verner may be appealing. He doesn't get the hype or praise that Seattle's Richard Sherman gets, but statistically speaking, Verner is among the NFL's best cornerbacks.

    He'll be a sought-after free agent if he doesn't re-sign with Tennessee, but he shouldn't net more than $7 million per year, at most.

Safety

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    The 2013 season was not kind to the Redskins at safety. Rookie Phillip Thomas landed on IR before the season began, fellow rookie Bacarri Rambo was inconsistent at free safety and Brandon Meriweather was a liability throughout the season.

    Only Reed Doughty, who is not under contract for 2013, was solid, though he was asked to do more than play strong safety to make up for deficient play from Meriweather and Rambo.

    Meriweather can exercise his contract option worth $3.4 million next season, which, combined with Thomas and Rambo's $1.2 million total salary, isn't terrible.

    Jose Gumbs showed enough in limited action to warrant a return, and he wouldn't cost more than $500,000 to re-sign.

    Midseason addition Trenton Robinson isn't likely to make the roster, and his $570,000 salary is negligible.

    Doughty should be retained, even if for one season, and he would earn around $1.5 million to provide consistency and reliable veteran depth. Assuming the team parts ways with Meriweather, expect them to pursue Jairus Byrd, this offseason's top free safety.

    Chasing Byrd won't be cheap, even after his injury-marred 2013 campaign. Eric Weddle, who is not the type of playmaker Byrd is, netted a five-year, $40 million in 2011.

    Expect Byrd's price tag to be in the $8.5 million per year range, putting him behind only Troy Polamalu as the top-earning safeties in the NFL.

Special Teams

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    Both kicker Kai Forbath and punter Sav Rocca are under contract for the 2014 season. Forbath is set to earn a base salary of $570,000 with no bonuses.

    Rocca will make $1.2 million in base salary plus a $162,500 signing bonus for a total of $1,362,500 in 2014. He didn't have a great year, he did have a shank or two, but throughout his career-high 84 punts, Rocca was serviceable.

    Serviceable, however, isn't going to cut it in 2014. At 40 years of age, Rocca may be on his way out, meaning the Redskins will be in the market for a new punter.

    Forbath had a down year following his near-perfect 2013 season, but he has been consistent enough to hang around. There may be competition brought in, since his leg strength leaves a lot to be desired, but he is dependable, which is something the Redskins have not had at kicker for the better part of 20 years.