When the Washington Redskins were assessed $36 million dollars in salary cap penalties in 2012, the front office knew it would have to make serious changes to the roster. The team has been quiet in free agency the last two springs, a marketed change from a franchise that has historically liked to make a splash in the spring. Mainstay players have been forced to accept restructured contracts in order to stay with the team, and with the Redskins only $1.5 million dollars under the cap, more number crunching could be on the way.
Though the team would have been far better off with an extra $36 million dollars of space over the last two years, Washington returned to the playoffs in 2012 because of surprise contributors. For the first time in recent memory, the Redskins have a handful of players whose value far exceeds their cap hit. Here’s a look at the five best contracts the team has on the roster for the 2013 season:
2013 cap hits provided by SpoTrac
5) Ryan Kerrigan ($2,378,344): Kerrigan was a solid player for the Redskins in 2012, but was hurt by Brian Orakpo’s injury. Still, he recorded 8.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and an interception without “Rak” terrorizing the quarterback from the other side. He figures to have an even better year in 2013. $2.5 million is a small price to pay for a strong defensive anchor that excels in both the pass rush and run defensive.
4) Fred Davis ($2,500,000): Davis’ career was on the rise in 2011. He was well on his way to becoming one of the elite receiving tight ends in the NFL. Then he was suspended four games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy in December 2011, leading to questions about his work ethic and devotion to the game. In 2012, he suffered an Achilles that sidelined him for most of the regular season. After testing the free agency waters and coming up empty, Davis signed a manageable one year contract to remain in Washington. When healthy, Davis provides an athletic and reliable outlet for the Redskins offense. Even though he is a bit of a risk, compared to the salaries of other starting tight ends in the league, the $2.5 million cap hit is a bargain for a player with Davis’ potential.
3) Tyler Polumbus ($900,000): One of the top priorities for Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen in the off-season was to keep the Redskins’ offensive line in tact. When Polumbus signed a two year extension in March, it ensured that all five o-linemen would be returning to protect RG3. The consistency and health of the offensive line was one of the top reasons the Redskins won the NFC East in 2012. Polumbus is not a dominant tackle, but he is a solid all-around player and has a year of the zone-read scheme under his belt. Polumbus tested free agency, but ultimately returned to Washington for a very reasonable price.
2) DeAngelo Hall ($1,250,000): D-Hall certainly has his flaws. As a ball-hawking cornerback, he alternates between moments of brilliance and lapses in coverage. Before he was released by the team in the off-season, Hall was scheduled to count $8 million against the cap. After re-signing with the team, the Redskins starting corner is scheduled to make only a fraction of that amount. Regardless of what you think of him, Hall is certainly worth $1.25 million. He can still change the game with his aggressive style, and can mentor draft pick David Amerson.
1) Alfred Morris ($510,775): When you find a diamond in the rough (i.e. in the late rounds of the NFL Draft), you will have a player on your roster for years that is paid almost nothing. The best thing Mike Shanahan has done since taking over in Washington is selecting Alfred Morris in the 2012 draft. Morris rushed for 1,613 yards and 13 touchdowns during his rookie season, remarkable numbers for a player not expected to start at the outset of 2012. The Redskins get three more years of Morris before having to shell out for the raise that he undoubtedly deserves. At the money he is paid, Morris may be the best value in the entire NFL