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Redskins salary cap review: Low QB salaries won’t last long

Jan 23, 2014, 11:58 AM EST

RG3-vs.-Packers

Salary cap review: Offensive Backs

As Jay Gruden continues to assemble his coaching staff, people in another part of the building at Redskins Park are looking forward to free agency and how best to utilize the approximately $28 million in cap space the Redskins have. Here we’ll take a position-by-position look at the cap situation and explore some of the Redskins’ options. So far, we’ve looked at wide receivers and the offensive line. Next up, offensive backs.

The Redskins currently have nine offensive backs under contract.

Name Base Cap number
QB Robert Griffin III $2,309,918 $5,759,754
FB Darrel Young $870,000 $1,378,333
RB Roy Helu $645,000 $762,563
QB Kirk Cousins $570,000 $688,172
RB Evan Royster $645,000 $671,918
RB Alfred Morris $570,000 $600,775
RB Chris Thompson $495,000 $541,250
RB Jawan Jamison $495,000 $495,000
RB Davin Meggett $495,000 $495,000
$7,094,918 $11,392,765

Some notes:

—Griffin has the sixth-highest cap number on the team while Young is the only other back in the top 20 at 14th.

—Only seven teams in the NFL will spend less on their quarterbacks this year than the Redskins. They are about in the middle of the pack in terms of running back expenditure, ranking 18th.

—Rex Grossman is a free agent after signing a one-year deal in 2013.

Adding and subtracting

The Redskins could well go into training camp with these two quarterbacks and seven running backs on the roster. They would need to add 1-2 quarterbacks to run camp, a backup fullback, and maybe a camp fodder running back or two.

But they do have other options. If they get the right offer for Cousins they could well trade him for a draft pick. Should that happen they would need a backup quarterback. It wouldn’t make much sense for them to get a pick for Cousins and then use that pick or another one to draft a backup quarterback. They would likely go the route of signing a veteran backup.

How much would that cost? Somewhere between the $4.38 million cap number that the Cowboys’ Kyle Orton carries and the $580,000 cap charge that the Bears’ Josh McCown and the Redskins’ Rex Grossman carried on their one-year contracts last year.

In either case, the Redskins still will be paying a lot less for quarterbacks than other teams will be. And the same will be the case in 2015 when Griffin is on the last year of his rookie contract. Then the cost will jump considerably.

The Redskins have an option to add a fifth year to Griffin’s contract that would make his salary somewhere in the $15-$18 million range (the average of the top 10 at the position) for the 2016 season. After that, in 2017, he will be a free agent. If he plays as well as he did as a rookie he will command something in the vicinity of $20 million per year. If he’s not there but good enough to still be the starter he’ll get something around $15 million.

The Redskins have never had to deal with a cap number that high for a player before. It will take some adjusting to be able to fit him under that cap.

The big cap number for Griffin is a couple of years down the road but it’s something that the organization needs to think about now. Almost any big-name free agent they might sign this year will have a contract that will go at least into that option year of Griffin’s contract. Bruce Allen will have to look at that $10 million or so being added to the salary expenditures and make sure that the team isn’t giving out a disproportionately large percentage of the cap to just a handful of players.

  1. kenlinkins - Jan 23, 2014 at 1:45 PM

    Just read that one of Cleveland’s plan at QB calls for trying to trading for Cousins, offering a 3rd and 4th (they have 2 of each) then picking A J McCarron in the 4th. Cousins as the starter, Hoyer back up, McCarron developmental QB in waiting. Weeden camp insurance. (I know, that they do not even have a coach yet and people having them trading picks, not too smart). BUT IYO would the Redskins do the deal? I just do not see them trading Cousins with the injury and performance of RG3 still in question. A trade doesn’t save them Cap Scape, makes them draft a QB earlier or makes them sign a Free Agent QB as a back up. In Short, can the Redskins avoid “Redskins Fever” and not make moves trying to get to the Super Bowl in 2014?

  2. kenlinkins - Jan 23, 2014 at 1:45 PM

    Just read that one of Cleveland’s plan at QB calls for trying to trading for Cousins, offering a 3rd and 4th (they have 2 of each) then picking A J McCarron in the 4th. Cousins as the starter, Hoyer back up, McCarron developmental QB in waiting. Weeden camp insurance. (I know, that they do not even have a coach yet and people having them trading picks, not too smart). BUT IYO would the Redskins do the deal? I just do not see them trading Cousins with the injury and performance of RG3 still in question. A trade doesn’t save them Cap Scape, makes them draft a QB earlier or makes them sign a Free Agent QB as a back up. In Short, can the Redskins avoid “Redskins Fever” and not make moves trying to get to the Super Bowl in 2014?

    • vtsquirm - Jan 23, 2014 at 4:10 PM

      where did you read this? From what i’m hearing, McCarron isn’t going to last until the 4th round (Kiper/McShay projections). In any case, i’ve never heard of anyone “planning” for someone being available that late. I could be wrong though.

      IMO this wouldn’t be a good move for the Skins. We wouldn’t be able to find anyone better than Cousins on the waiver wire or with one of the picks. I think the consensus is if you can get a 1st or 2nd for Kirk, then go for it. But otherwise he’s more valuable as the backup with Griffin’s injury issues than anyone a lower pick might bring.

      Boy it would be nice if the Redskins had some players as trade bait for once instead of always trading for players.

  3. Rich Tandler - Jan 23, 2014 at 8:44 PM

    Just in case anyone didn’t notice, Griffin was healthy the entire 2013 seasons. Sat out some plays vs. Broncos, could have come back in but since game was out of hand he didn’t. Played every other snap until benched.

    The reality that the Redskins don’t have a first-round draft pick. If they can get a second for a player who is likely to sit on the bench for most of the year they almost have to do it. They could sign a veteran backup for a million or so in cap space.

    They aren’t going to be determined to dump Cousins for whatever they can get. A 3 and a 4 is on the low side of what they would seriously consider. If they are offering their picks, high in the round, they might do it.

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