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Unfair Salary-Cap Penalty Plagues Redskins



The Washington Redskins have performed well below expectations. Many people are starting to point fingers at coaches, players, and schemes. Perhaps the salary-cap penalty could be the real cause for the Redskins struggles?
The NFL is regarded as one of the most competitive professional sports in the world. Competition rages on every team and franchise, from starting Quarterback to water boy. The level of physical talent and mental aptitude in the NFL is almost unrivaled in sports. Franchises are in a constant struggle to find not only the best, most talented players but also have to find special role players, who fit specific mental and physical skills sets for the role they are to perform. Even the smallest of disadvantages could be catastrophic.

Prior to the 2012 season, the NFL handed down a harsh 36 million dollar cap penalty, to be evenly distributed over two seasons for contract dealings during the uncapped 2010 season. The penalty, thought by many in the sports world to be quite excessive and unfair, was upheld after attempts to appeal the decision.

Both the 2012 and 2013 season started slow for the Redskins. The Redskins finished the 2012 regular season strong but have yet to locate that same spark this season.

At a cost of $18 million a year, could most of the Redskins issues be a direct result of the cap penalty?

The cap problem was certainly amplified by the trade with the Rams to acquire the draft pick to draft Robert Griffin III, an issue voiced by critics of the trade. They had a point. Without ample draft picks, some roles would likely have to be filled via free-agency, something the cap penalty made nearly impossible. Though most would agree the Redskins still have plenty of talented players, human nature makes you wonder what this team would look like without the cap penalty.

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Recently, Washington Redskins Head Coach Shanahan even cited the cap as a reason for the Redskins short-comings this season. Though even he will admit there is much more to putting together a winning football team then cap room, most agree that cap penalty certainly deserves some of the blame.

To really get an idea of the impact of the salary cap penalty, lets examine some of the 2013 free agents that the Washington Redskins missed out on.

The Offense is talented and more then capable, regardless of the cap penalty, but here are a few guys that would have been nice upgrades:

WR, Mike Wallace – The Redskins have been hunting for a legit deep-threat receiver for years. You have to think if the wallet had been thicker, they would have taken a stab at Wallace.

T, Jake Long – Long was looking for big money this offseaon. When the Dolphins failed to offer enough, the Rams stepped up and signed him and have been pleased with the investment.

T, Andre Smith – Smith decided to resign with the Bengals, but if the Redskins had good money to tempt him, he could have ended up in Washington.

RT, Gosder Cherilus – This former 1st round pick by the Lions has really solidified the Right Tackle spot for the Colts, something the Redskins would have really loved to have done.


Here are a few defensive free-agents that could have helped bolster that struggling Redskins defense:

CB, Sean Smith – There is no doubt that the Redskins could use some upgrades in the secondary. Smith has performed very well in his first season with the Chiefs.

CB, Dominique Rodger-Cromartie – The Bronco’s have relied on Rodgers-Cromartie heavily this year and he has come through. The Redskins are desperate for a guy who can play consistently.

SS/FS, Dashon Goldson – I was surprised when the Redskins chose not to chase after this hard-hitting safety, despite a tight budget and Goldson’s history with league fines.

MLB, Daryl Smith – This aging linebacker was cut by the Jaguars but has since proved that his career is far from over, playing handsomely for the Ravens (replacing Ray Lewis).


One of the biggest areas affected by the cap penalty seems to be the Redskins Special Teams, underperforming in almost every statistical category. After losing LB and ST Ace Lorenzo Alexander to free agency, it was evident that there was not cap room for those key Special Teams contributors.

For once, though, the Redskins could not afford to overpay for a player, something that will pay heavy dividends in 2014 when there is no cap penalty to deal with…expect the Redskins to be fairly active in 2014 Free Agency.
  • Charles Barr likes this



11 Comments

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Seth Keysor
Nov 23 2013 01:02 AM

Some really solid points.  I sincerely doubt the Redskins would've stood pat the way they did on defense had they not had penalties imposed.

 

On the plus side of that, next year they'll have almost as much money as the Raiders to spend.  Could be major players.

    • Charles Barr likes this
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Charles Barr
Nov 23 2013 01:16 AM

It kind of protected them against "Haynesworth" deals too!  Next year should be a wild free agency too.  

    • jhutch likes this
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John Wenker
Nov 23 2013 02:39 PM

Good article! There is a reason why they are called Cap "Penalties" I guess.

 

One of the things I find really interesting in sports are advanced metrics. With baseball being a favorite sport of mine as well, and the sabermetrics that have emerged since the Moneyball A's days, I have been very intrigued by how people have calculated how much a team should pay a player based on how many wins that player brings to a team.

 

Football is lagging a little in advanced stats, but they are making up great ground. I assume the Redskins have someone advising them on how much to pay per win added. Like Charles Barr mentioned above me, they should be able to avoid crippling contracts like the one they gave Albert Hanyesworth years ago.

 

The Redskins figure to be one of the more active teams in free agency this season. Hopefully they learn from the past, and avoid future penalties.

    • Charles Barr likes this
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Charles Barr
Nov 25 2013 01:47 PM

We are paying the piper...but I like our positioning into the next 2 or 3 seasons...there is a silver lining.

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John Wenker
Nov 25 2013 04:01 PM

We are paying the piper...but I like our positioning into the next 2 or 3 seasons...there is a silver lining.

 

The Redskins are set up well. Now it is up to their front office to execute.

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Seth Keysor
Nov 25 2013 07:50 PM

Good article! There is a reason why they are called Cap "Penalties" I guess.

 

One of the things I find really interesting in sports are advanced metrics. With baseball being a favorite sport of mine as well, and the sabermetrics that have emerged since the Moneyball A's days, I have been very intrigued by how people have calculated how much a team should pay a player based on how many wins that player brings to a team.

 

Football is lagging a little in advanced stats, but they are making up great ground. I assume the Redskins have someone advising them on how much to pay per win added. Like Charles Barr mentioned above me, they should be able to avoid crippling contracts like the one they gave Albert Hanyesworth years ago.

 

The Redskins figure to be one of the more active teams in free agency this season. Hopefully they learn from the past, and avoid future penalties.

 

Do you think advanced statistics are going to have nearly the effect in football they have in baseball (and to a lesser extent, basketball)?  I just don't see it. 

 

Baseball is an individual sport for the most part.  You're at the plate alone and in the field alone.  It's much, much, much, much easier to come up with advanced stats because your play isn't nearly as affected by the guys around you.  How do you come up with a wins added stat for a running back without factoring in his offensive line, the defense he's facing, the quarterback and receivers he has taking pressure off the run, injuries to the opposing team and his own... and on, and on, and on.

 

I don't think it's possible, frankly.  Football is so much more team oriented than baseball or even basketball.  I don't think the pure stats approach works there.

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John Wenker
Nov 25 2013 09:10 PM

Do you think advanced statistics are going to have nearly the effect in football they have in baseball (and to a lesser extent, basketball)?  I just don't see it. 

 

Baseball is an individual sport for the most part.  You're at the plate alone and in the field alone.  It's much, much, much, much easier to come up with advanced stats because your play isn't nearly as affected by the guys around you.  How do you come up with a wins added stat for a running back without factoring in his offensive line, the defense he's facing, the quarterback and receivers he has taking pressure off the run, injuries to the opposing team and his own... and on, and on, and on.

 

I don't think it's possible, frankly.  Football is so much more team oriented than baseball or even basketball.  I don't think the pure stats approach works there.

 

I agree entirely. It will be so much more difficult to accurately quantify one player's production because he plays a small role in the grand scheme of things.

 

There are metrics available for how running backs perform based off the run blocking they receive, and metrics for how well quarterbacks perform under various pressures. However, there is so much else happening that they cannot be held to the same standard as the metrics used in baseball.

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Jason Henry
Nov 26 2013 04:32 AM

Take this with a grain of salt coming from a Cowboys guy, but I like to think that I'm objective.

At any rate, outside of RGIII's slow start and the team's "predictable" offense, the defense has been Rob Ford bad. They rank near the bottom in sacks and get no help from the defensive line.

I also think that the Redskins lived off of the big play last year, and that hasn't really happened for them much in 2013.

Not saying that the cap issues haven't hurt them but I think they would still have a below average record if the $18 million were there.

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Cyrus Naser
Nov 26 2013 02:24 PM

I'll have to echo Jason's warning as this comes from a fan of a division rival...

 

That being said, the Redskin's defense was supposed to be WAY improved this year just by getting some injured players back, not sure how many of those changes they would have made.  They ranked 22nd overall last year... and this year so far are ranked 31st.  Could some of those players have helped.... maybe... but DRC was thrust into a starting role by Champ's injuries, he wasn't supposed to be as good as he is.. Daryl Smith is old and the Redskins wouldn't have had their middle be London Fletcher and him.

 

I don't know... I see where you're going, but the Redskins had high hopes after they way they finished last year.  It's really been RGIII not coming back to form that has killed them more than anything else.  (Which is why a 2nd year QB needs an Offseason at full speed)

    • Charles Barr likes this
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Lucas Polglaze
Dec 02 2013 08:45 PM

With so much cap space for the Redskins, would you see them pursuing an Eric Decker-type player in FA?

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Charles Barr
Dec 12 2013 02:19 PM

I can definitely see the Redskins trying to find a legit #2 receiver this off-season.   They may sign and draft a guy to groom for that role...let them battle it out with Hankerson.  Hankerson just does not seem to be the #2 guy they hoped he would be...but he will get 1 more year to step up or else.

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