Thanks to the $18 million salary cap penalty they will be hit with this year, the Redskins are about $4 million over their 2013 salary cap number. That sounds like a lot to be over but normally it is something that can easily be handled by restructuring a few contracts. But that will not be easy for the Redskins to do.
The ideal contract for a restructure is one for a player with a high base salary, in the $10 million range or higher, and at least three years remaining. The team and the player get together and work it out so the player gets most of his salary for that year up front in the form of a signing bonus. That allows the team to spread the cap hit for that salary over the remaining years of the contract.
The problem is, the Redskins don’t have many high salaries this year. Their highest 2013 salary is $7.5 million and it belongs to DeAngelo Hall. He has just one year left on his deal making him a less than ideal restructure candidate but more importantly he will need to negotiate a reduction in salary if he is going to stay with the team. That alone could get the team under the cap but they will have more work to do in order to resign any of their own free agents or strengthen the team with other free agent signings.
Of the other top 10 salaries on the team, London Fletcher ($5.5 million), Santana Moss ($4.15 million), and Josh Wilson ($3.9 million) are in the last years of their deals. Although an extension could provide some cap relief, the team would be hesitant to give one to aging players like Fletcher or Moss.
The Redskins do have some possibilities when it comes to restructuring in Pierre Garçon (2013 salary $5.6 million, 4 years left on contract), Trent Williams ($5 million, 3 years), and Barry Cofield ($4.05 million, 4 years).
But there is a problem inherent in restructures that makes Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan hesitant to execute them. It doesn’t make cap charges disappear; it pushes them off into future seasons. With the cap projected to be flat over at least the next two years, pushing cap charges into the future will cause problems down the road when the bills become due. In other words, they don’t want to make the same mistakes Vinny Cerrato made and end up with big cap numbers for aging veterans who become very expensive to keep but accelerated cap charges making it too costly to release.