Before getting started here, it needs to be made clear that the Redskins are long way from releasing Jammal Brown. Mike Shanahan described his hip as being “a little sore” and perhaps the injury is indeed minor even though it is to an area of his body that is of great concern.
However, the possibility that the Redskins will move on from Brown by the time the regular season starts has to be considered. Late last year Shanahan told the media that Brown has to be able to stay healthy if he is going to be on the team. If an MRI reveals that there will be issues with his hip that are likely to last all season long, Brown’s roster spot could be in jeopardy.
Unfortunately, the Redskins did not write any injury protection for themselves into the contract that Brown signed after the lockout ended last year. The deal was for 5 years and $27.5 million with $8.2 million guaranteed. One mechanism that teams, including the Redskins, have used for injury protection is per-game roster bonuses. A portion of the player’s salary will be tied to being on either the 53-man roster (i.e. not on injured reserve) or being on the 46-man game day roster.
Since they don’t have any of those mechanisms in Brown’s contract they will be on the hook for his entire $3.25 million salary if he is on the roster for the first game of the season (salaries become guaranteed for the season at that point). They also are on the hook if they put him on injured reserve before the season.
If they decide to move on without him, the smart move would be to get him to where he could pass a physical and the release him before the season starts. That would knock his salary off of the books for this year, leaving his $1.3 million prorated singing bonus as dead cap.
The Redskins would pay for this move in 2013. They would have the remaining $3.9 million left on his signing bonus charge left on the books that they would have to eat in dead cap. However, they could roll over the $3.25 million savings from this year into next, so it would be about $700,000 short of a wash.
Again, the Redskins have no plans to do anything with Jammal Brown right now and he remains on the roster. But if they do decide to let him go the net cap impact would not be too difficult to manage even with them having to deal with the remaining $18 million of the NFL’s salary cap penalty.