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Redskins salary cap analysis: How much for Orakpo, Riley?

Feb 5, 2014, 11:55 AM EDT

Riley-vs-Eagles

As Jay Gruden continues the process of assembling the playbook, 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, offensive backs, the offensive line, and the defensive line. Next up, linebackers.

The Redskins currently have seven linebackers under contract.

  Name Base Cap number
OLB Ryan Kerrigan $1,564,131 $2,774,639
ILB Keenan Robinson $570,000 $675,027
ILB Josh Hull $645,000 $645,000
LB Adrian Robinson $570,000 $570,000
ILB Will Compton $495,000 $495,000
OLB Brandon Jenkins $495,000 $537,215
LB Jeremy Kimbrough $495,000 $495,000
      $6,191,881

Some notes:

—The Redskins will carry dead cap charges for the voiding contracts of London Fletcher ($2.1 million) and Brian Orakpo ($715,000).

—Those two are free agents, although Fletcher intends to retire. The contracts of Perry Riley, Darryl Tapp, Nick Barnett, Rob Jackson, and Bryan Kehl (injured reserve) are set to expire and they also are slated to be free agents when the league year starts on March 11.

—As one might expect with only one bona fide NFL starter signed, the Redskins rank low in the NFL in terms of spending on linebackers. Only two teams have fewer cap dollars committed to linebackers.

Adding and subtracting

Orakpo and Riley have been identified as two of the team’s top priorities to re-sign and according to reports contract talks with both have begun. In addition, they have to find a second starting inside linebacker to take Fletcher’s spot.

How much Orakpo and Riley are likely to make will be the topics of some upcoming posts so we won’t go into a bunch of detail here. But let’s take a quick look.

Orakpo’s floor is Paul Kruger’s deal from a year ago, a five year, $40 million contract. His ceiling is the contract extension Clay Matthews signed last year, a five-year deal that averages $13 million.

His production (39.5 career sacks) puts him closer to Matthews (42.5 sacks at the time he signed his extension) than Kruger (15.5). So let’s say something like $11 million per year.

That just happens to be right around the estimated $10.9 million franchise tag salary will be for linebackers. That is an option the Redskins could explore if they are concerned about losing him due to an above-market offer by a team with a lot of salary cap space.

According to the Washington Post, Riley’s camp may be looking for a contract comparable to the one that Dannell Ellerbe signed a year ago. He got a five-year deal averaging almost $7 million per year. The Redskins will point to the contract that Fletcher just completed, a deal that averaged less than $5.5 million per year.

It seems that the Ellerbe deal is an outlier, especially considering that he had started just 14 games when he signed the contract. Two of the four Pro Bowl inside linebackers are on second contracts. Paul Posluszny has a six-year contract worth $7 million per year and Derrick Johnson has a six-year contract paying him a shade over $6 million per year. Riley has not yet been in the Pro Bowl conversation. He could end up with something closer to what Fletcher made with some bonus clauses and escalators if he does make the Pro Bowl.

The Redskins might not have much left to spend on the spot next to Riley. Kerrigan is only on his rookie contract for one more year and then there is a team option for the 2015 season that will call for a salary of some $4-$5 million. The Redskins may try to work Keenan Robinson or a 2014 draft pick into the role with a veteran stopgap coming in at a relatively low salary this season. 

  1. coachemup1 - Feb 5, 2014 at 1:33 PM

    I wouldn’t drop qa load for Riley. He is just another average LB. On a slid team he may or may not start. In Seattle he watches the games. I guess if you can live with Rak’s lack of coverage you pay the money or franchise him and the pec muscle. I say franchise. maybe he will go to a Lavar type role and coverage won’t be a big of a deal.

    • mlandon24 - Feb 5, 2014 at 3:20 PM

      I thought Rak did better in coverage when he was asked to this year than any of his previous ones. Bruce is very good with contracts and the cap, I trust they will make the best decision for the short and long term.

  2. kenlinkins - Feb 5, 2014 at 4:01 PM

    Rich, The more I look at the Cap numbers from your position by position stories the more I want to take two full seasons and 3 drafts to clean up the roster in order to make a run at the Super Bowl. Even with the $28 million of Cap Space we can not pay Orakpo, Riley and Kerragin $20 million in 2014 and $25 million in 2015. This is were the GM and the coach must start to hold the line on cost. Over paying someone just because you do not have an answer for that position yet is not the way to go. The GM must figure out what we can pay and allow those asking for to much to walk (i.e. Orakpo). We must get the production for the pay or save the money. If the GM can not do that by finding lower cost Free Agent types who can play it is time to get a new GM. For some reason we seemed to jump the track in 2013 with a lot of over paid low production types who now carry a ton of dead money if we cut them. I say clear the decks now and take the hit for dead money and start rebuilding even if it means allowing both Riley and Orakpo to walk. Allow the other teams to make those mistakes, besides if our GM does his job right others will should not over pay either and maybe we can sign them back to less money. OR resign them in two years when other teams cut them for costing too much.

    • Rich Tandler - Feb 5, 2014 at 4:06 PM

      I’m with you on overall thoughts but who costs a lot of dead money? There isn’t a veteran whose release would cause a net cap charge. They have quite a bit of flexibility compared to many teams.

      • kenlinkins - Feb 5, 2014 at 8:24 PM

        Just the Term “Dead Money” hurts my business sense, and while we do have flexibility a great way to lose that advantage is to start over paying players.

        • Rich Tandler - Feb 5, 2014 at 8:26 PM

          It’s part of the cost of doing business.

          > >

        • kenlinkins - Feb 6, 2014 at 11:38 AM

          Rich, Would using “Dead Money” be a good way to stack rank General Managers?

        • Rich Tandler - Feb 6, 2014 at 11:50 AM

          As a factor, yes, but not as the sole criteria. Sometime you sign a deal knowing there will be dead money like one with voidable years. You do what you have to do to get a deal done. I’ve always heard that you can budget for about 10% of the cap in dead money and if you stay around there it won’t cause you any major problems. So that would be ~$13 million this year. You’re usually going to have more when you change coaches. Redskins have about $7 million as of now.

  3. coachemup1 - Feb 5, 2014 at 5:13 PM

    The reality is that with coming cuts they will have approx 40 mill to spend. But I still wouldn’t over pay Riley.

  4. dcsportsfan2277 - Feb 6, 2014 at 9:31 AM

    Supposedly, this is where BA is at his best in salary cap management. I agree that this is not a one year fix. We are two years and three drafts away from really being able to compete!

    Franchise Orakpo and see how he plays and if he can stay healthy next year and then address a long term contract. 4/20m for Riley and do not overpay for Baker. I like him a lot and he made some nice strides this year however there are some very good NT’s available like Raji, Cody and others.

    I hope that we find out what we have in Brandon Jenkins and Keenan Robinson in OTA’s. If these two can stay healthy they can push for playing time as well as much needed depth. Sign Butler or another quality ILB.

    Please please please do not sign a top tier safety like Byrd! Two very good players rather than one excellent player is what is needed. Talib would be fine as long as he has reasonable terms like 4/22m a year.

    Sign RT, ILS, CB & S in FA and then BPA in the draft with an emphasis on team speed!

    Good luck Bruce! HTTR!

  5. Antonio - Feb 6, 2014 at 1:57 PM

    Perry is def not worth an ILB pay, he can take a $5mil a yr and be happy.

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