The Washington Redskins have managed, with a couple of exceptions, to hold together the roster of the team that went 10-6 last season and won the NFC East. They have done so in spite of $18 million worth of salary-cap penalties left over from last year's league-imposed discipline. And while they have not been able to add as many pieces as they would have liked, especially in the secondary, they are to be commended for the work they've done to hold onto the players they already had.
However, the draft is this week, and while the Redskins don't have a first-round pick they will need money to sign the draft picks they do make. With about $30,000 in cap space, it initially appears as though they will need to clear millions of dollars in cap room in order to do this. But Mark Maske of The Washington Post reports otherwise. Thanks to the "top 51" rule that counts only the 51 highest-cap costs against the offseason cap, the Redskins will only need to clear about $200,000 in cap room in order to sign the picks they make Friday and Saturday:
Unless the Redskins trade up or down in the draft, it appears the contracts for their seven drafted rookies will total close to $3.6 million in salary cap space this year. But only the deals for the two highest picks, it appears, will crack the top 51 and count against the cap. Those two deals apparently will count close to $1.3 million against the Redskins’ cap. Once the $1.1 million from the contracts of the two players knocked out of the top 51 is subtracted, the Redskins will be left needing to clear only about $200,000 in salary cap space to sign all their draft picks.
Mark goes on to cite Brian Orakpo, Josh Wilson, Josh Morgan and Trent Williams as candidates for restructures that could clear room. And while the Redskins under Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen have shied away from those kinds of restructures that dump money into future years, it appears as though the impact should they be forced to do one this offseason would be minimal. Orakpo, for example, is a candidate for a contract extension anyway.
So have no fear, Redskins fans. While the cap penalty has resulted in a few holes still unfilled, it appears as though your team will weather it without it causing too much long-term harm.