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Need to Know: How much cap space do the Redskins need to sign their draft picks?

Mar 17, 2015, 5:59 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, March 17, 44 days before the Washington Redskins go on the clock at the NFL draft.

Question of the day

A few days a week I’ll give an in-depth answer to a question submitted by a fan on my Twitter feed, via the Real Redskins Facebook page, or in the comments section here. On Twitter address the questions to me at @Rich_TandlerCSN with the #NTK hashtag. There will be a comment thread set up on the Facebook page and if you’re asking your question here, put “for NTK” at the start of the comment.

Today’s question is from the Real Redskins Facebook page:


As we discussed here yesterday, the Redskins had $11.73 million in salary cap space. That was before they signed safety Jeron Johnson. We don’t have the details on that deal yet (reported to the for two years and $4 million) so we don’t know what the 2015 cap hit will be. But we can estimate they have about $10.5 million left and be close enough for our purposes here.

The Redskins will need a chunk of that money to pay their draft picks. As of now, they have seven picks, their own selection in each round. Thanks to the rookie slotting system that came into effect with the current CBA in 2011, the 2015 cap hit for each those draft picks can be determined now.

Washington has the fifth overall pick in the draft. That player, regardless of what position he plays or what he may have accomplished in college, will get a contract with a 2015 salary cap hit of $3.41 million per Over the Cap. Here are the hits for the Redskins other picks, rounded to the nearest $1,000.

Round-Cap hit


The total cap hits for rounds one through seven comes to $6.943 million. At first glance, if you subtract that from the $10.5 million they currently have it looks like the Redskins are getting very low on cash to spend.

But you don’t subtract nearly that much from the remaining cap space due to the Rule of 51. That rule applies during the offseason, from the start of the league year in March until Week 1 of the regular season. Teams have to be under the NFL salary cap of $143.28 million during that time, but since they can carry up to 90 players on the roster they can’t count everyone towards the cap. So the rule is that only the top 51 cap hits on the roster count towards cap during the offseason.

That means that when you add a player into the top 51 you drop the player with the lowest cap hit. So when the Redskins sign their first-round draft pick, Phillip Thomas, who has a cap hit of $510,000, will drop out of the top 51, so you subtract his money from the cap. So that $3.41 million deal counts a net of just $2.9 million.

It happens that the Redskins have a bunch of players with cap hits of $510,000, which is the third-year minimum salary, so when you knock Thomas off of the list of 51, he’s replaced in 51st place by another player making the same amount. So when you sign picks from rounds two, three, and four, you add their cap hits but you take off someone making $510,000 when you do. In all, picks 1-4 have total cap hits of $5.54 million. But with the Rule of 51 the net effect is a subtraction of $3.5 million from available cap space.

And since the picks in rounds five, six, and seven make less than $510,000 they don’t even count against the cap for the time being. So you wind up with a net cap hit of $3.5 million for the draft class of 2015.

As Keith noted in his questions, this could change with a draft trade but trades of picks for picks in the same draft don’t usually have a major effect on the cap consequences. The Redskins can figure on accounting for about $3.5 million in cap space for the draft regardless of how much wheeling and dealing Scot McCloughan may do.


—It’s been 79 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 180 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 34; 2015 NFL Draft 44; Redskins training camp starts 135

If you have any questions about what’s going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I’m always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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In case you missed it

  1. bowlregard - Mar 17, 2015 at 7:08 AM

    Last year they kept their powder dry until DeSean was released.

  2. bangkokben - Mar 17, 2015 at 9:06 AM

    A great 101 on the how the cap works!

  3. skinsgame - Mar 17, 2015 at 9:25 AM

    All of the numbers change once “need” is factored in. “Need” usually has a factor of 1.65 but can go as high as 4.35 so, the numbers can change dramatically, as you can see,

    • rtcwon - Mar 17, 2015 at 10:10 AM

      What are you talking about?

      • brucefan1 - Mar 17, 2015 at 4:43 PM

        You confused too? :^0

        • skinsgame - Mar 17, 2015 at 7:51 PM

          Everyone knows that need factors into the draft. I’m simply stating the known mathematical value so we can all factor “need” appropriately.

        • rtcwon - Mar 18, 2015 at 9:59 AM

          Well, that’s was way off topic, the article was about cap space, not grades.

          Anyways, I’m a BPA advocate but do know some or most teams factor need into their grades but no way every team uses the same metric nor do you have any idea what that scale is. So your made up numbers are just as meaningless as any fan’s opinion about any prospect.

        • skinsgame - Mar 20, 2015 at 1:30 AM

          It was about cap space for rookies and rookies will be drafted according to their grades. Their grades have a variable of “need” to factor in, it’s not rocket science. Pay attention. Use the figures I provided you to dial things in.

  4. Domenic Sebastiani - Mar 17, 2015 at 9:36 AM

    I thought one of our biggest needs was to upgrade our oline?
    Did we do this yet?
    Two stud OT that are ranked by #5 Joe Barksdale 326lbs & #6 Byron Bell 340lbs are young UFA with 4 years in the league. Would either or both of these guys be able to fill the right side guard & tackle spots?
    Thanks & looking forward to your reply.

    • brucefan1 - Mar 17, 2015 at 4:54 PM

      Sorry, its just me replying Domenic — and not Rich, but here goes….

      THAT’S just what I been saying Dom…there ARE still a few serviceable RT’s out there!

      And they longer they gotta sit on the shelf, the more their price goes down, which is good — cuz, like Rich says, our cap room is dwindling (although a good capologist knows how to find some spare cap change in the sofa cushions when needs be!).

      So lets don’t any of us lose our heads about the RT situation till all the dust has settled — and all the cap money has been exhausted.

      (And if you’re lucky, Dom, Rich WILL get back to you — and probably blow my theories outta the water while doing so!)

      • Domenic - Mar 17, 2015 at 5:34 PM

        Thanks Bruce, I’m glad I’m not the only one thinking that way.
        I rather see us get a younger guy that is ranked pretty high that should be around for a while. Trent Williams is in his prime and will only be around for a few more years, then he’ll be gone like Chris Samuels. What a waste of talent that was and will be. Now is the time to get another bookend tackle!

    • Rich Tandler - Mar 17, 2015 at 5:21 PM

      Hey, not a long enough answer here for NTK and I’ve touched on it in the past.

      For one thing, the coaches and front office do not see the five-alarm need for on the O-line like the fans do. Many of the pass protection problems were caused by backs and tight ends and, looking at you No. 10 and, to a lesser extent, No. 16, QB’s holding on the ball too long.

      Don’t get me wrong, they think the line can be upgraded and wanted Parnell and Free from DAL and Newton from HOU but quickly found them out of their price range. I’m not sure if they wanted Barksdale and/or Bell but they could be looking for more than the team thinks they are worth.

      The want Spencer Long and Morgan Moses to develop into the starting right side of the line. There’s no point in spending $5 million + on a non-premium OL position if you want to do that.

    • rtcwon - Mar 18, 2015 at 10:06 AM

      Rich did say it better, he is a writer after all. But just because you don’t like a player doesn’t mean an upgrade is available.

      Barksdale and Bell are not upgrades over Polumbus, much less Compton. Just because someone tricked you into believing their rankings doesn’t mean you can post them here as meaningful.

      • Domenic - Mar 18, 2015 at 11:12 AM

        I didn’t rank them #5 & #6 did.
        You really think Polumbus and Compton would rank in the top 10 FA OL if they were UFA? I don’t!

        • rtcwon - Mar 18, 2015 at 10:19 PM

          So you’re saying until I buy a domain and charge a sub, my opinion can’t be right? I didn’t say you ranked them 5 & 6, I said you’re foolish to pay attention to those rankings. And I assumed those were of still available. I watch games and Parksdale is toast off the snap and nowhere near the run blocker of Polumbus. Bell is decent run blocking but needs more than a chip on the edge. It’s my opinion, try one of your own instead of buying to some random ranking.

        • Domenic - Mar 19, 2015 at 9:23 AM

          OK, I can only form an opinion from the tools I have available to me. I don’t have the time or the capability to view all the games of every player. If your opinion is Polumbus is better I can except that. I assume that there are more qualified people to tell us fans where the players rank than me. I base my opinion on all the articles that I read that say the same thing I see on Sunday, that the right side of our line is a “turnstile” . Now I totally agree that RG3 holds on to the ball entirely too long therefore you can’t blame everything on the protection.
          BTW who ever does the ranking on, have Tyler Polumbus at #13 so in their opinion they must think that #5 or #6 should be an upgrade. If the Redskins main concern is to do whatever possible to help RG3 succeed, why not pick up one OL in FA and one in the Draft? We went after Bryan Bulaga only to lose out. The next available highly rated young OT are Barksdale and Bell.
          In the end I am sick and tired of the disrespect my favorite team has to absorb. I’m tire of losing and ending up in last place every year. I live in Eagles territory and have been a Redskins Fan for over forty years. You can’t imagine what a joke the Eagle fans think of the Redskins. They hate Dallas but respect them. They respect the Giants, they laugh and shake their heads at the Redskins.

      • brucefan1 - Mar 18, 2015 at 8:50 PM

        Finally! Someone in the know who can answer our questions about those still-available OTs in free agency!

        What do you know about Barksdale and Bell? What do you think they are looking for and what do you think they will get? Any ideas on who they may end up with?

        And most importantly, what are their weaknesses? (Obviously ALL they have are weaknesses if they are not upgrades over Polumbus!)

        Thanks, rtcwon!!

  5. rtcwon - Mar 17, 2015 at 10:12 AM

    Plenty of cap space to do whatever they want the rest of FA even if no extension for 71 or 91, haters please move along.

    • brucefan1 - Mar 18, 2015 at 8:52 PM


  6. Ronnie - Mar 17, 2015 at 10:20 AM

    Every time I look at Jameis Winston , maybe a dumb gut felling that may be wishful thinking 😐, I see him in a Redskins jersey … Would if Skins are hyping the other Qb , to entice TB or others to pass on Winston , so he can fall right in their lap for the 5th pick . I know it sounds dumb but I have a crazy feeling that Marcus Mariota , is TB true pick at the one spot & if that’s the case Winston will be picked at 5 by the skins as fast as an eye can blink … Question ? When you see Jameis Winston , what jersey do you truly see him in . I see skins ppl …

    • bangkokben - Mar 17, 2015 at 11:48 AM

      Do you think that the Titans will pass on Winston if he’s there at #2? Wouldn’t any team between 2 and 5 field trade offers? Maybe Mariota goes to the Bucs but can’t see Winston in a ‘skins jersey.

  7. ET - Mar 17, 2015 at 11:16 AM

    Anyone else surprised by 49ers LB Chris Borland’s retirement after one year in the NFL? Second SF ‘backer to retire this month. The Niners are having a rough offseason.

    (Kinda nice to have a sane offseason for once in DC, huh?)

  8. alextwrs - Mar 17, 2015 at 11:28 AM

    Anybody remember Glen Coffee (Alabama Rb) who retired after one yr of being a niner? Niners are cursed or something. Yes I am very surprised about the Chris Borland retirement, he looked like a future stud!

  9. timwillhidetimwillhide - Mar 17, 2015 at 2:49 PM

    Ive bin saying the Rookie Pay Scale changes how you look at the Draft. I dont think $3.41 million is a lot to pay for any position besides RB or FB with Potential Starter/Probowl talent. At that price I wouldn’t have a problem at all if they Drafted Sheriff to play Guard. A starting Guard with that talent in Free Agency would cost you more.

    • bangkokben - Mar 17, 2015 at 3:06 PM

      How is this different? In 2010 if you drafted in the top five that person was now the highest paid person at that position regardless of never taking an NFL snap. That doesn’t change the fact that a guard, center, tight end, a specialist, and now a running back is not considered a position worth drafting at #5. Archives

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