The Redskins’ 90-man offseason roster is set, at least for the time being. It’s time to take a look at who they have, who will start, and who will be around when the Sept. 9 opener in New Orleans rolls around.
Starters: Stephen Bowen, Jarvis Jenkins
Reserves: Adam Carriker, Kedric Golston
Fighting for a job: Darrion Scott, Kentwan Balmer, Doug Worthington
Bowen, who will be limited in the preseason program as he had a procedure done on one of his knees in April, is set on the right side.
We could label Jenkins and Carriker as 1-A and 1-B on the left. Jenkins seems to be on the road to a full recovery from his torn ACL although he was wearing a full knee brace during Monday’s OTA. The talk was that he would have won a starting job at some point during last year but Carriker held down the job well enough to earn a contract extension. The two will compete for the starting job during training camp. The “loser” will still end up with plenty of playing time in the line rotation.
The team re-signed Golston after he missed the last seven games of last year with a knee injury. He is steady and reliable for 20-30 snaps per game. He is likely to be on the final roster but Balmer could challenge him if they keep only four defensive ends.
Balmer is an interesting prospect. He was a first-round pick of the 49ers in 2008 and he lasted only two seasons there before being traded to Seattle for a sixth-round pick. He has bounced around and even though he’s only 25 this could be his last chance to catch on in the NFL. Jim Haslett will want to give him a long look.
He will compete with Scott and Worthington for a possible fifth defensive end job.
Starter: Barry Cofield
Reserve: Chris Neild
Fighting for a job: Chris Baker
It seems like everyone was trying to replace Cofield with a “traditional” nose tackle from the moment the Redskins signed him soon after the lockout ended. He is heavier than his listed weight of 306 but short of the 350- to 360-pound range that you usually find in the middle of a three-man line. With an offseason to learn, he should improve on his up and down 2011 performance at the nose.
Neild started off his NFL career with a bang, getting in on two sacks of Eli Manning in the season opener. He got only another half sack the rest of the season but, of course, that’s not his job. He did well playing about a dozen snaps per game to give Cofield a rest.
Baker has a couple of games of NFL experience under his belt. He will compete with Neild for the backup spot behind Cofield.
Two months ago at the NFL owners meetings in Florida, New York Giants owner John Mara, who was born naked into this world and had to inherit everything he has, spoke out in support of the salary cap penalties the league had imposed on the Redskins and Cowboys about two weeks earlier. At the time, his smug words raised the ire of many Redskins fans.
It turns out that members of Redskins Nation were not the only ones listening to Mara and seething over what he said. And his words could come back to bite him right in the seat of the pants of one of those $5000 suits he bought with his Daddy’s money.
In its collusion lawsuit filed against the NFL, the NFLPA’s lawyers cited Mara’s words as evidence that the league owners did conspire to create a “secret salary cap” of $123 million. The Redskins and Cowboys were penalized a total of $46 million in future cap space for, in essence, violating that secret cap.
Under “Factual Allegations” in the document, the NFLPA says the following:
In finally publicly disclosing why the NFL sought to remove salary cap room from the Redskins and Cowboys, Mara candidly admitted the NFL’s and the Owners’ collusion regarding the secret salary cap in saying: “I thought the penalties imposed were proper . . . . What they did was in violation of the spirit of the salary cap. They attempted to take advantage of a one-year loophole, and quite frankly, I think they’re lucky they didn’t lose draft picks.” (Giants owner Mara: Cap penalties could have been worse, NFL.com (Mar. 25, 2012).)
Mara similarly admitted: “It has to do with teams attempting to gain a competitive advantage through a loophole in the system. They attempted to take advantage of it knowing full well there would be consequences. . . . [W]hen you look at the overall scope of what they did, they were trying to take advantage and they were told not to.”
In the view of the NFLPA, and in the view of many others, Mara may as well have been waving a sign saying “We Colluded” as he spoke.
His brazen admission that “they were told not to” spend over the imaginary salary cap could be very costly for his team and for the league. The suit is looking for at least $3 billion in damages.
When the NFL and the players’ union signed a 10-year labor deal, all the talk was about a decade of labor peace.
If this is peace, we’d hate to see what war looks like.
A day after the NFL announced that an arbitrator had dismissed a case filed by the Redskins and Cowboys in an attempt to recoup a combined $46 million in salary cap penalties, the NFLPA announced a related action of its own.
“Our union recently learned that there was a secret salary cap agreement in an uncapped year,” NFLPA president Dominique Foxworth. said in a statement.
That uncapped year was 2010, the final year of the previous CBA. The union claims that the “secret salary cap” was $123 million per team.
The Redskins and Cowboys were penalized salary cap space for what Roger Goodell and the NFL Management Council determined was excessive spending during that uncapped 2010 season that created an unfair competitive advantage for those teams. Dallas was hit with a $10 million reduction to be taken over tow year, Washington with $36 million over two seasons.
That money was redistributed to the salary caps of 28 of the other 30 NFL teams. The Raiders and Saints had committed similar “violations” but not to the degree where the league saw fit to penalize them.
The league has responded by saying that the claim “has no merit” and any such action is prohibited by the CBA ratified last year.
The union’s suit claims that since the collusion was ongoing and was not known at the time that they agreed to drop such claims.
"When the rules are broken in a way that hurts the game, we have an obligation to act," said NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith in a statement. "We cannot standby when we now know that the owners conspired to collude."
The suit was filed in the U. S. District Court in Minnesota. That is the home of Judge David Doty, who has been very sympathetic to the NFLPA in various legal matters over the years.
The suit claims that the collusion cost the players “up to $1 billion, if not substantially more” and is looking for compensatory damages of $3 billion or more. It does not specifically ask for the salary cap dollars to be restored to the Cowboys and Redskins.
There is no word on when a trial might start or if the players will request any sort of immediate action.
I haven't had a chance to read it over but you can download the NFLPA's suit right here.
If any legal types here have anything to add, please hit the comments or hit me on Twitter @Rich_Tandler.
It didn’t take long to get an answer.
The NFL Players’ Association has jumped into the Redskins-Cowboys salary cap penalty case in a big way. The union is filing a collusion claim against the league. The crux of the claim was stated by NFLPA president Dominique Foxworth.
“Our union recently learned that there was a secret salary cap agreement in an uncapped year,” Foxworth said in a statement.
The league has responded by saying that the claim “has no merit” and is prohibited by the CBA ratified last year.
Check back here for further details.
I got a few tweets yesterday from folks who wanted to know what jersey numbers some of the new players on the team were wearing during yesterday’s OTA. Here is a list of the jerseys worn by the team’s draft picks and veteran free agents.
Be advised that these numbers will not necessarily be in effect when the regular season starts. If a more desired number opens up due to another player being released, a player can switch numbers.
Unless they’re not.
Mike Florio of our corporate cousins over at Pro Football Talk isn’t completely convinced that the fight to get the combined $46 million in salary cap penalties nullified is over.
Although he admits that the two teams “strongly implied” that the case was over when they issued their brief statement on Tuesday, he points out that neither team has responded to an email asking if the matter is, indeed, completely closed.
Florio also cited a source who told him that “the fight may not be over”.
That certainly doesn’t seem like much for Redskins fans who want the team to continue to pursue what they see as justice to hang their hats on. The two teams could be letting the joint statement stand as the final word on the matter. And what the anonymous source said hardly seems to be anything close to definitive.
But it’s not over until it’s over and the Redskins could well continue to explore options up to and including a lawsuit. They did not give up any legal right to sue by issuing a PR statement.
The odds seem slim but the situation bears watching.
In the Redskins’ and Cowboys’ two-sentence joint statement announcing their decision not to further contest their salary cap penalty case concluded by saying, “We will continue to focus on our football teams and the 2012 season.”
As far as the Redskins are concerned, that means that they will have to figure out how they will go about doing business over the next two years minus $18 million in salary cap space per season. The penalty will hurt, no doubt, but it should not be crippling.
As far as this year goes, the Redskins are some $3.8 million under the cap. They still have to sign their top three draft picks but even after that they will have a couple of million dollars to work with.
Although under the rules teams don’t need to be even a dollar under the cap, it’s not a good idea to go into the season with no cap room. For one thing, the salaries of players on injured reserve count towards the limit so you need to have some money set aside to cover that. And if an opportunity to sign a player who could help the team comes up, it is good to have the money set aside to be able to do that.
They could create some more cap room by releasing players. The two most frequently discussed candidates for release are Chris Cooley and Santana Moss, both of whom have high cap numbers but are not expected to be starters. The team would save $3.9 million against this year’s cap by releasing Cooley after June 1 and $3.15 million if they cut Moss loose at that time.
But they are not in a position where they are forced to cut Cooley or Moss or anybody else. Thanks to sound cap management, they were able to absorb the $18 million reduction in their cap, address at least some of their offseason free agency shopping list and re-sign key veterans such as London Fletcher.
They are in good cap shape despite the penalty in part because they are only carrying about $2.9 million in dead cap space. Many teams have $10-$15 million or more in dead cap and the Redskins used to be among the league leaders in dead cap annually. This means that almost every dollar of the cap is going towards compensation for players on the 2012 roster and is not on the book for players who are long gone.
They also can survive the penalty because they have drafted 21 players in the past two years, the most in the NFL. In addition to bringing youthful enthusiasm to a team, draft choices are also cheap labor, especially in their first or second seasons. Having 20 or so recent draft picks on your roster always has been a good way to keep you cap total in check.
It’s early to look ahead to next year but it appears that the $18 million penalty will squeeze them and limit them in free agency but they should not have to release any players they do not want to let go of. Fred Davis is the only starter who is scheduled to be a free agent who might command a big contract.
One source shows the Redskins with about $78 million in cap dollars committed for 2013. A lot can change there so it’s too early to base too much on that but it looks like they will have room to operate under a cap number that is likely to be in the $102 million range for them.
The Redskins were not able to plan for getting slapped with the salary cap penalty this year as they knew nothing about it until about 24 hours before the start of free agency. But sound management prepares you for the unexpected and Bruce Allen and Eric Schaffer deserve credit for having the Redskins ready for a storm that nobody saw coming.
There are some as aspects of the NFL collective bargaining agreement that was ratified last summer that have not worked as advertised. There seems to be discontent over the amount of disciplinary power held by Roger Goodell and there has yet to be agreement on HGH testing.
But the rookie wage scale, a system that essentially results in preset contracts for each player in the draft, has been a smashing success. It was designed to save money that could be spent on veteran player salaries and to make sure that rookies signed quickly without training camp holdouts.
Per the NFL, 147 drafted players had signed contracts through Thursday, May 17. Here is now that compares to the number of signings through the entire month of May in previous years:
2011: 0 (NFL lockout prohibited contracts from being signed)
There were 253 players drafted last month so about 58 percent are in the fold. The Redskins are ahead of the pace, with six of their nine draft picks signed. It seems likely that it is just a matter of time until the Redskins get the other three, including Robert Griffin III, to sign on the line.