The Washington Redskins are a little short on cash at the moment. Entering the NFL Draft, it was estimated that the team had only $30,000 left to spend. This number is a little misleading, for reasons The Washington Post’s Mark Maske has already pointed out. However, the limited cap space has prevented the Redskins from bringing in any significant free agent signings. In an attempt to cut costs, the Redskins announced Friday that they restructured the contract of cornerback Josh Wilson, a move which has freed up $1.9 million in cap room.
Wilson would have cost the Redskins $5.3 million against the cap in 2013, with a base salary of $3.9 million entering the final year of his contract. After the pay cut, Wilson will receive a signing bonus of $1.3 million and count only $3.4 million against the cap. For the Redskins front office, it was a shrewd business power play. In addition to bringing in free agent E.J. Biggers in the off-season, the front office courted former Chargers defensive back Quentin Jammer in the days leading up to this announcement. Wilson was made to feel that his roster spot was insecure. Instead of being cut all together, Wilson was forced to take this modified deal.
Wilson is not the only member of the team to feel the screws tighten this off-season. Santana Moss, Adam Carriker, and Brandon Meriweather all accepted restructured contracts in March. While many commentators have suggested these players are acting selflessly for the sake of the team, it is always important to remember that NFL contracts are only as binding as the amount of guaranteed money attached. None of those players would have done better on the open market, and receiving some money is better than receiving none at all. It is also easier to stomach a reduction in salary (and certainly easier to pitch) when the team involved is the defending NFC East champions.
The Redskins now have plenty of money to sign their draft selections, but still have limited cap space with several glaring roster needs to be addressed. This means that the front office may not be done asking, or forcing, players to take a reduction in salary to remain on the burgundy and gold.