- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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On Monday, we discussed the Washington Redskins' lingering fight to get back some of the salary-cap space that was taken from them last year as a penalty for the way they structured some contracts during the uncapped 2010 season. Specifically, that post cited a Washington Post story that said the Redskins were putting contract negotiations on hold until the matter was resolved. And since I continue to think it's unlikely that the Redskins get any relief here, it's worth discussing exactly which players and contracts are in question.
The Redskins currently project to be about $4 million over the expected salary cap, which means they could get under with just a couple of moves. Releasing cornerback DeAngelo Hall, for example, would save them $8 million and get them under. Cutting defensive lineman Adam Carriker would save $4 million, and it's likely they'll at least restructure Santana Moss, who's slated to count $6.2 million against the cap, if not cut him outright.
So yes, they could get under the cap today if they wanted to. The issue, of course, is that they'd have to replace those players. For all of Hall's flaws, he was one of their starting cornerbacks last year, and he had his moments. His performance against Dallas' Dez Bryant in the division championship game in Week 17 was a key factor in the Redskins' victory. And consider that fellow corner Cedric Griffin is an unrestricted free agent. It may seem easy to sit on the outside and say, "Cut Hall and save the money," but as with the Giants and Corey Webster, one must consider the matter of how to replace him.
Same goes for Moss, who was a valuable piece of the Redskins' passing game in Robert Griffin III's rookie season. They can't pay their 34-year-old slot receiver that much money, but Moss would have to agree to the restructure. And if he gives the team a hard time about it, they may have to part company, which would require them to find a reliable veteran slot receiver to replace him. With tight end Fred Davis also an unrestricted free agent, the Redskins are left to confront the question of how many of Griffin's short-range passing targets they're comfortable losing.
My guess at this point -- and that's all it is -- is that Hall and Moss take pay cuts to stay in Washington but that the cap crunch costs the Redskins Davis, Kory Lichtensteiger, Carriker and possibly valuable fullback Darrel Young, who's a restricted free agent. It's also possible they'll have to say goodbye to linebackers Lorenzo Alexander and/or Rob Jackson, who were important 2012 contributors. Regardless, they face many tough decisions. The potential for major personnel losses at key spots is exacerbated by the fact that Washington has no first-round draft pick and is hoping to upgrade in the secondary even if it keeps its corners.
This isn't going to be a fun offseason for Redskins fans, and the team knows it, which is why it's trying this Hail Mary effort to get the cap space back. Without it, things could get ugly in Washington.