John Clayton: Redskins to Benefit Most Under New Salary Cap

Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen took a Washington Redskins team with 8-8 talent and produced a six-win season in 2010. An injury to star running back Clinton Portis had more to do with that than is commonly acknowledged, but mysterious roster moves by Shanahan made the outcome inevitable.

Washington’s dynamic duo’s best moves were hidden from public sight. Shanallenhan brought order to the Redskins salary cap. A pair of early analysis of Washington’s cap status is positive about the home team.

Greg Trippiedi posted his in-depth analysis of the ‘Skins position on Redskins Hog Heaven yesterday. (See Salary Cap and Free Agency Primer)

ESPN’s John Clayton echoed the thought in a June 24, 2011, story Salary plan will help, hurt these teams. Clayton’s guess at the team that will benefit most under new cap rules? The Washington Redskins.

“Owner Dan Snyder gave defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth and cornerback DeAngelo Hall around $36 million in bonus money in 2010 to free up room to be a big spender in free agency in 2011. Snyder and Mike Shanahan will have to be creative in how they structure contracts, because the $120 million cap would give them only around $10 million of cap room. On the positive side, the Redskins’ current payroll is $75.7 million, meaning Snyder would have to spend close to $45 million in cash to meet the potential minimum floor requirements. Imagine a system that forces Snyder to spend.”

Clayton did not take account of the Redskins dead cap money (that ol’ devil) that shrinks the team’s cap room. Trippiedi did and concludes that the ‘Skins will have $24 million in cap room to play with.

The two took different paths with different figures to reach he same conclusion. Washington is in uncommonly good shape to infuse talent via free agency without killing the cap. The one hope all fans have is that Shanahan eschews the practice of over-investing in a single big-name player.

The team needs talent everywhere. Signing the next Albert Haynesworth won’t do enough to average-up talent to make the Redskins a contender. Neither will cleverness with the cap, the tactic the Redskins perfected in the Snyder era to finesse the salary rules.

Allen offered reassuring words about that. The Draft was an indicator of the fron office’s approach to talent. Washington did not take a high profile signing, like quarterback Blaine Gabbert. Instead they took “grunts” to do the heavy lifting as linemen and linebackers. Skill positions were filled in middle and late rounds. The Redskins also drafted seniors with multi-year NCAA records and who achieved team leadership positions at their schools.

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