Breaking Down Redskins' Salary-Cap Situation Heading into Free Agency

Marcel Davis@@Mar_CelDavis24Correspondent IMarch 2, 2014

After a two-year hiatus, Washington owner Daniel Snyder could revert back to handing out blank checks to prospective free agents this offseason.
After a two-year hiatus, Washington owner Daniel Snyder could revert back to handing out blank checks to prospective free agents this offseason.Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

A non-player for the past two seasons because of an NFL-mandated $36 million salary-cap penalty, the moment the Washington Redskins have been patiently waiting for is nearly here.

On March 11, NFL free agency begins. And the Redskins have around $30 million to spend, according to Zac Boyer of The Washington Times.

With that said, let's take a glance at Washington's salary-cap situation heading into free agency.

Salary cap information is courtesy of


Cap Room

Despite already having $30 million in salary-cap space, the Redskins have the ability to garner more if they can cut ties with a couple of underperformers ciphering off funds.

In Adam Carriker, Chris Chester and Stephen Bowen, Washington has $18 million in cap space tied up.

And for what?

Carriker missed the entire 2013 season and Bowen's season ended after 10 games and zero sacks.

While Chester did suit up for the entire slate of games last season, he was an inconsistent performer on a porous Washington offensive line that gave up 43 sacks.

Just by releasing this trio, the Redskins would net an additional $7 million in cap space.


Impending Free Agents

Signing Orakpo is a priority for Washington, but at what cost?
Signing Orakpo is a priority for Washington, but at what cost?Patrick Smith/Getty Images

While the Redskins have recently hammered out deals with impending free agents Chris Baker and DeAngelo Hall, they're running out of time to broach exclusive contract talks with defensive stalwarts Perry Riley and Brian Orakpo.

With a relatively weak free-agent class of linebackers, it stands to reason that both could receive substantial interest from opposing teams if they were allowed to test to the market.

Through the use of the franchise tag, Washington has the ability to take either player off the free-agent market and, thus, avoid such a scenario.

As the team's top pass-rusher, Orakpo would seem to be the best candidate to receive the tag.

According to Mark Jones and Mark Maske of The Washington Post, the franchise tender would be $11.45 million for the linebacker.

Aside from Riley and Orakpo, the Redskins have 14 unsigned free agents—six on offense and eight on defense.

This group consists of Rex Grossman, J.D. Walton, Josh Morgan, Santana Moss, Fred Davis, Dezmon Briscoe, Bryan Kehl, Darryl Tapp, Brandon Meriweather, Rob Jackson, E.J. Biggers, Reed Doughty, Josh Wilson and Nick Barnett.

A list comprised mostly of marginal players, at best, Jackson and Walton would be the most impactful players if they were retained.

Jackson could adequately fill the vacancy at outside linebacker in the event that Orakpo isn't retained.

Starting in place of an injured Orakpo for the majority of the 2012 season, he did just that. As he finished with 4.5 sacks and four interceptions that season.

For Walton, formerly a starter with the Denver Broncos, his presence would give the Redskins options in how to strengthen an offensive line that made a piñata out of franchise quarterback Robert Griffin III.


Free-Agent Targets

January 19, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; New England Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib against the Denver Broncos in the 2013 AFC Championship football game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Finishing ninth in total offense in 2013, the Redskins' 3-13 record would seem to indicate that defense is a major problem spot.

Considering that Washington allowed 29.9 points per game last season, that presumption would be right.

Fortunately for the Skins, there are a litany of defensive difference makers available in this year's free-agent crop.

In need of a cornerback and a safety, Aqib Talib and Jairus Byrd are the top free agents at these two positions.

But with Washington also having holes at linebacker and along its defensive line, quantity may usurp quality in its quest to improve one of the NFL's worst defenses.

Under this approach, players like linebacker Brandon Spikes, defensive lineman Lamarr Houston, safety T.J. Ward and cornerback Walter Thurmond could be thriftier options.

Minus a pick in the first round of the NFL draft, free agency stands as the best way for the Skins to net an impact performer for the 2014 season.

In a division where an 8-8 record can keep you in the playoff conversation, a successful bout in free agency—and a healthy Griffin—could be Washington's ticket back to contention.


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