Put Your Thinking Cap on
By: Mark Solway 
Posted: 2006-03-02
Category: Washington Redskins News
Put Your Thinking Cap on

Are you in the mood for some thinking? How about trying to figure out where the Washington Redskins actually stand with respect to the salary cap?

First off, let's get some semantics out of the way; the league announced that the cap number for each team in 2006 would be 94.5 Million dollars. Before the Redskins re-structured Brunell's deal, Washington's cap totals were somewhere in the neighborhood of 109 Million dollars. That puts the Redskins about 14.5 Million dollars north of the cap border with just one day to get south of it. How on earth are they going to do it?

Well Mark Brunell's re-work will probably mean about 2 Million dollars in cap savings if you presume that Brunell will just extend the 4 Million dollars he was slated to earn as a base salary over the remainder of his contract. In all likelihood, that puts Washington at about 12.5 Million dollars over, and leaves them a fair amount of work to do.

Some fairly easy decisions for cuts are back-ups getting paid starter money -- Matt Bowen and Walt Harris. Ironically, both cuts will yield the exact same amount of cap relief, 2 Million dollars each. While both players have provided solid back-up relief, desperate cap times call for desperate cap measures. With another $4 Million off the books, the Skins are now just about $8.5 Million away from their magic number... give or take a hundred thousand dollars.

There are a few Redskins that could be cut or re-worked to save cap space that would likely gladly do so:

Brandon Noble - with a $2.63 Million price tag for this season, it's definitely cut or re-work time for the tough-lucked defensive tackle. By cutting noble the Redskins could save an additional $1.7 Million in cap. They could conceivably ask Brandon to take a pay cut on an extension, or just re-work the deal, but for now let's call it a cut and one that brings the Redskins down to $6.8 million. We're getting closer now, aren't we?

John Hall - with a price tag of $1.965 Million this year and a possible cap savings of $1.035 Million dollars, it would appear that Hall's injury history in Washington mandates that he either re-works his contract or catches on somewhere else. Again, Hall could be re-worked to keep him on the roster, but for the sake of brevity, call it another cut and a new bottom line of about $5.765 Million.

Cory Raymer - Raymer is definitely the kind of guy that will do what he needs to do, to finish his career as a Washington Redskin. Cutting Raymer would save the Redskins $985,000, but if he agreed to a league minimum contract of $770K with a $25,000 bonus, he would qualify under the league veteran minimum role and only count $485,000 against the cap. That would still be a savings of $500,000, and with THN's love of the big Wisconny boy, let's call it a re-work, and bring the Redskins number down to $5.265 Million.

James Thrash - Everybody loves JT, but saving even $750 K goes a long way when you're desperate. Another 'could keep', but for now Thrash is the contract that puts the Redskins at about $4.5 million.

Antonio Brown didn't have much luck on the waiver wire when the Redskins let him go before, and $460K more cap savings dictates that they take that chance again. Now there's just $4 Million to go. Phew.

Then there are some currently filled roster spots that may just need to be vacated for a few weeks while the Redskins re-work some of their bigger contracts to free up even more breathing room -- Karon Riley (460K), Derrick Frost (460K), Curry Burns (385K), Ron Johnson (385K), Kerry Carter (385K), Ikechuku Ndukwe (310K), Ataveus Cash (310K), Casey Bramlet (310K), Jim Jones (310K), LeShaun Ward (310K) and Richard Smith (310K). Believe it or not, that's another $3.925 million. Many of you are probably asking yourselves if most of these guys are really Redskins. They are right now because there was no cap impeding Washington from signing some roster spots for the 2006 training camp, but if they need to be dropped while some contracts are re-done to create real cap room, then it's easily accomplished.

And we're there, or close to it. No re-working of any bigger contracts to even get there. It was also done without cutting Patrick Ramsey, which would mean a further savings of $1.7 Million. But if the Redskins can get below the number without cutting Patrick, then they will be able to still try and get a draft pick for him and apply the cap money to their soon-to-be-needed rookie cap pool.

The Redskins may have some cuts coming, but many of them may end up being fairly insignificant. Save John Hall when healthy, Derrick Frost when he wasn't, and Walt Harris in platoon situations, none of the above moves involve starters.

Even though this is drastically over-simplified and for estimation purposes only, it should serve to inform Redskin fans that cap hell is not necessarily imminent as described by the national media outlets. While the wiggle room is small, there is till some. With big contracts like Clinton Portis', Randy Thomas', Jon Jansen's, Casey Rabach's and Renaldo Wynn's, there are also millions of dollars of cap relief still available to Washington.

If a fan can figure it out, so will Eric Schaffer and the Washington Redskins. Hopefully by tomorrow.
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