Jan 5, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT
As Jay Gruden and company search for a new defensive coordinator people in another part of the building at Redskins Park are looking forward to free agency and how best to utilize the approximately $20 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. First up, the interior offensive line.
The Redskins currently have six interior offensive linemen under contract.
—The Redskins have all three of their 2014 starters under contract through 2015. Chester’s contract expires after this season, Lichtensteiger’s and Lauvao’s run through 2017.
—Chester has the 10th-highest cap number on the team. Lichtensteiger ranks right behind him at 11th and Lauvao is 13th.
—The Redskins’ total expenditure on the offensive line, including tackles, is $29.8 million. That ranks third in the NFL although it should be noted that many teams do not have their five 2014 starters for under contract as the Redskins do.
—LeRibeus has one year to go on his rookie contract and Long is locked up through 2017 on is rookie deal.
—Johnson is signed through 2015.
Adding and subtracting
The popular fan perception is that Chester is a liability and that he is not worth the $4.8 million that he will cost against the cap in 2015. Last year he was the 14th-highest paid guard in the NFL, according to Spotrac.com. The folks at Pro Football Focus have Chester’s 2014 performances ranked 27th among the 55 guards who played at least 60 percent of their teams’ snaps. One could conclude that the Redskins did not get great value out of Chester last year.
The guard the PFF has ranked immediately in front of Chester is Zane Beadles of the Jaguars, who had a $7.5 million cap hit in 2014, the first year of a five-year, $30 million contract. Ben Grubbs of the Saints, right behind Chester in the rankings, was one of the highest paid guards in the NFL with a cap number of $9.1 million.
The Redskins would save $4 million against the cap if they release Chester. They would save the salary, workout bonus, and roster bonus but they still would be charged the remaining $800,000 of his bonus proration as dead cap.
If Long is ready to start—and if a third-round pick at guard isn’t ready after a year of seasoning you have to start to question the wisdom of the selection—the smart money move might be to release Chester and move the second-year player into the starting lineup. Later today, Tarik El-Bashir and I are going to examine this possibility in some depth.
You could make the case that Lichtensteiger was the team’s best offensive lineman this year, given that Trent Williams missed some time and struggled on occasion due to injuries. He was well worth his cap hit.
PFF ranked Lauvao below Chester but he did improve as the year went on and he adjust to the Redskins’ zone blocking scheme. That and the $3 million in dead cap that would result from releasing him (net cap savings of $1 million) will probably keep him around in 2015.
Cap information from OverTheCap.com and other sources.
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