Feb 18, 2016, 5:18 AM EDT
Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, February 18, 6 days before the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.
Should Culliver return?
Let’s take a quick look back at the Culliver story before answering it. Last year the Redskins signed Culliver, who will be 28 in August, to a four-year contract worth $32 million. When it was signed it had $16 million fully guaranteed; part of that was his $8 million salary for 2016.
When he was healthy he played pretty well but health was a major issue. He missed three games due to an inflamed knee. Culliver was rounding back into form but at practice on Thanksgiving Day he suffered a torn ACL and MCL and his season was over.
For their investment the Redskins got six games, no interceptions and one pass defensed.
Culliver’s 2016 cap hit will be $9.25 million. That $8 million base salary will be the highest on the team after Robert Griffin III is released.
Culliver did miss one other game and as it turns out it plays a big role in deciding about his future. He was suspended in Week 2 for a violation of the NFL’s personal conduct policy that occurred when he was with the 49ers. According to the terms of his contract the suspension voided any future guarantees in his contract. So his 2016 salary is no longer guaranteed, putting the option of moving on from him from the realm of being financially irresponsible to being possible.
If Culliver’s salary was still guaranteed, cutting him would have created a net cap hit of $9.25 million. As it is now, cutting him saves a net of $5.5 million.
But the fact that the money will work if he gets cut doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea to let him go. Right now the cornerback depth chart consists of Culliver, Bashaud Breeland and some second-year players. Some of them, like Quinton Dunbar, could be pretty good. But it would be scary to go into the season with just Breeland, who is just in his third year, Dunbar, and the other inexperienced players.
And that is said realizing that Culliver may not be able to go at the start of the season. The season opener will be about nine and a half months after his injury so we’ll just have to see how things progress. But even if they have to rely on Dunbar for a few weeks that’s better than relying on him for 16 games.
I think that Culliver stays this year and McCloughan will find a cornerback in the draft. If the drafted CB shows promise they may well decide they can do without Culliver and the $8 million per year he has remaining on the last two years of his deal.
—The Redskins last played a game 39 days ago. It will be about 206 days until they play another one.
—Days until: NFL Combine 6; NFL free agency starts 20; 2016 NFL draft 70
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