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Redskins running out of cap room, but could create more

The Washington Redskins entered free agency with a lot of cap room, but that number dwindled after one weekend. It explains why certain players might not appeal to them. But there’s also a way they can create more room if needed.

According to the latest NFL Players’ Association figures, the Redskins have $14.2 million in available cap space less than a week into free agency; 24 teams have more room. The Redskins have been busy, signing four unrestricted free agents and re-signing tight end Vernon Davis. Those moves cost them approximately $16 against the cap in 2017, according to ESPN Stats & Information. They also placed the franchise tag on quarterback Kirk Cousins, which cost them another $23.9 million of space.

Before free agency, they had approximately $60 million in available cap space. Only the top 51 players count against the cap now. The Redskins have 68 players under contract. They also have 10 draft picks and typically sign 12-15 college free agents, so there’s not a lot of room left in getting to their 90-man roster. Of course, they can always sign more veterans and cut others.

Of their four new free agents, Terrelle Pryor will take up the most room. But his one-year deal will only be a $6 million hit. Safety D.J. Swearinger ($3.3 million) and defensive linemen Stacy McGee ($3.19 million) and Terrell McClain ($3.7 million) are near him.

For what it’s worth, the Redskins can get out of each deal after next season if none are helping them. Each could be released post June 1 to a solid savings (teams can only designate two with a post-June 1 release date). Each of the three would represent at least $3 million in savings, with the highest dead money occurring with Swearinger at $1.3 million.

Still, the Redskins have a little more work to do. They could re-sign some of their own free agents, notably corner Greg Toler, but there's a good chance that would occur after the draft, when they see what needs remain.

The Redskins still want to sign another defensive lineman, which is why they hosted Bennie Logan last weekend. But he signed with Kansas City on a one-year deal worth $7.7 million. They are interested in linebackers as well, though they have not been connected with any names as of yet. One league source said the Redskins, along with a handful of teams, had expressed interest in Miami linebacker Jelani Jenkins, an outside linebacker in a 4-3 who would shift inside in a 3-4. But to what degree the Redskins were interested remains uncertain as teams call on a lot of players. Visits and offers connote true interest.

The Redskins also will seek defensive help in the draft. It’s considered a deep draft for defensive players, though more so with pass-rushers (always needed) and defensive backs.

Regardless, if they want to free up more cash for more signings, it wouldn’t be difficult and would mostly involve two players.

DE Ricky Jean Francois. They could create another $3 million in cap space by releasing Jean Francois. With two newcomers along the line and a desire to develop some of their younger linemen, Jean Francois becomes expendable – and a costly backup with a $4 million cap hit. He has a history with new defensive coordinator Greg Manusky and line coach Jim Tomsula.

Safety DeAngelo Hall. He has a $5.06 million cap hit, a solid chunk of space for someone who is 33 and has missed a combined 31 games the last three years. He tore his ACL in Week 3 last season. By signing Swearinger and moving Su’a Cravens to safety (though he could still have a role as a linebacker in some packages), Hall's role is uncertain. They also have veteran Will Blackmon under contract. Like Hall, he transitioned from corner to safety and was progressing until getting hurt.

After last season, as Hall entered the final year of his contract, said he’d consider a pay cut to remain in Washington. He doesn’t have much market value because of the injuries. But the Redskins remain interested.

“I’d like to see how he does with the injury behind him,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said, “and see where he’s at mentally. He’s a great leader for us and our leadership is very important.”

Guard Shawn Lauvao. It doesn't appear he's going anywhere -- the coaches still like him enough to keep him around. However, he, too, is in the last year of his deal and occupies $5 million in cap space, which is why he's included here. But the Redskins won't be spending big, so they don't need to create that much room and could afford him for another year. I haven't heard anything about a pay cut, either.