When you take a look at the Redskins’ salary-cap breakdown defensively, it becomes clear – if it wasn’t already. They’re spending a lot more on their front seven, compared to the NFL average, than the back four. That means they’d best hope that an improved pass rush compensates for what they couldn’t add in the secondary.
For the record, Washington has approximately $2.8 million of salary-cap space remaining, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
Anyway, here’s a defensive breakdown by position (and click here for the offensive breakdown) with numbers courtesy of the ESPN Stats & Information gang:
Number on roster: 11
Total percentage of cap space: 20.57
Total cap value: $26,516,642
NFL average: $21,632,204
Biggest cap hit: Barry Cofield ($7,667,500).
Underpaid: Tough to say anyone is here, though if Jason Hatcher produces, then his $3.75 million cap hit will be a huge bargain. Jarvis Jenkins has a $1.5 million cap hit, which is below average for an NFL defensive lineman. Chris Baker will have a higher cap figure this season ($2 million). But I wrestle with calling Jenkins underpaid; I’d like to see more plays.
Looking to the future: Jenkins and Chris Neild are free agents after this season. But if Baker and/or Clifton Geathers show they can be more than part-time players then it gives the Redskins option should they let Jenkins walk. Stephen Bowen has a $7.02 million cap hit this season and it jumps by another million in 2015. I can’t imagine he plays at those numbers, not coming off microfracture surgery. But if he does play at that figure this season, the Redskins – if they want – could release him next offseason and get a $5.5 million cap savings. Multiple people in the organization have said Bowen remains in the plans for 2014.
Number on roster: 12
Total percentage of cap space: 18.5
Total cap value: $23,901,881
NFL average: $15,201,455
Biggest cap hit: Brian Orakpo ($11,455,000)
Underpaid: Ryan Kerrigan will count $2.8 million against the cap, a much lower sum than he’ll soon receive. If Akeem Jordan wins the starting inside linebacker job next to Perry Riley, then you could consider him underpaid as he’ll only count $635,000 against the cap and also would be a big help on special teams.
Looking to the future: Kerrigan is in the last year of his rookie contract, but the Redskins have until May 3 to decide whether to extend it by one year (at an average fourth through 25th highest-paid players at his position). Jordan, Rob Jackson and Darryl Sharpton all signed one-year deals this offseason. If the Redskins don't draft an inside linebacker, they have to hope Keenan Robinson stays healthy and shows why teammates have praised his talent since his arrival.
Number on roster: 7
Total percentage of cap space: 6.1
Total cap value: $7,873,638
NFL average: $12,316,626
Biggest cap hit: Tracy Porter ($2,800,000)
Underpaid: DeAngelo Hall is coming off his best season in Washington and will count only $2.1 million against the cap – 55 corners will occupy more cap space.
Looking to the future: E.J. Biggers is the only corner who will be a free agent after this season. But it wouldn’t be surprising to see them draft someone else, in case Hall’s play slips that much or Porter doesn’t help or just to add depth. Richard Crawford still has to prove his knee is sound and that he’ll continue improving. Same with Chase Minnifield.
Number on roster: 7
Total percentage of cap space: 2.91
Total cap value: $3,746,719
NFL average: $8,237,006
Biggest cap hit: Brandon Meriweather ($1 million)
Underpaid: No one here is underpaid, though if Ryan Clark can coax out another good year and help groom some young safeties, then his $635,000 cap hit will qualify. But they also have to have young safeties worth grooming.
Looking to the future: Meriweather and Clark have one-year deals, which means the Redskins could well be in the same position next offseason in looking for starting safeties. Of course, they could still draft one (I would) and hope that between the rookie and the two young holdovers from last year, Bacarri Rambo and Phillip Thomas, that they’ll find one starter and then only need to find one more. Thomas must prove that he’s not only healthy but can move as he did before the Lisfranc injury. Rambo has to earn a job this year. Neither holdover is a given to be a starter – in 2014 or beyond.