WASHINGTON — The Redskins have a very busy offseason ahead of them.
Kirk Cousins, assuming he is re-signed or franchise tagged, will likely cost them about $24 million next season. Receivers Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson are both pending free agents and won’t be cheap to re-sign, though it remains unclear if the Redskins are interested in bringing either or both back. Defensive tackle Chris Baker is also a free agent, as is tight end Vernon Davis.
Between those five, the Redskins will have to shell out some serious money if they’re going to retain their own free agents.
The good news for GM Scot McCloughan is he has done an excellent job of managing the salary cap, both in the past and for the future. Per the NFL Players’ Association, the Redskins will have more than $15 million in unused cap space from the 2016 season that they will be able to carry into the 2017 season.
As the NFLPA notes, it’s best to think of that money as rollover minutes one might use in a mobile plan. The Redskins had more than $15 million in unused cap space last season, so they’ll get more than $15 million to add to next season’s cap space.
That total is nearly $6 million more than the league average of $9.1 million, and it’s the fifth-most in the NFL. Only the Cleveland Browns ($50 million), Jacksonville Jaguars ($39 million), San Francisco 49ers ($38 million) and Tennessee Titans ($24 million) have more. Washington has more rollover cap than the other three NFC East teams combined ($12.1 million).
Spotrac lists the Redskins’ rollover money as $15,679,777 (a discrepancy of about $620,000). Added to the 2017 projected salary cap of $165-170 million, and the Redskins should have more than $180 million to work with for the 2017 season.
Per Spotrac, the Redskins have about $67 million in cap room for next season right now, before re-signing any of their own free agents or other teams’ free agents. Washington will also have to sign its draft picks to contracts, though those won’t break the bank; Keanu Neal, the 17th pick in the 2016 draft, carried a cap hit of less than $2 million this season.
In theory, Washington could re-sign Cousins, Garcon, Jackson and Baker, as well as all their own draft picks, and still fill out their roster. They’d just need to add a slew of players on cheap contracts, and possibly clear some salary off the books.
Still, McCloughan’s frugality in 2016 seems poised to pay significant dividends in 2017.