With teams now able to release players, I'll continue to take a look at some ways the Washington Redskins might free up salary-cap space through cuts this offseason. The Redskins are approximately $10 million under the salary cap -- though that's unofficial and does not yet account for adjustments based on earned incentives. Regardless, they can add to their cap room with a few moves.
Player: Adam Hayward
Contract status: Signed through 2016
2016 cap hit: $1.045 million
Potential savings: $945,000
Why they might cut him: He’ll turn 32 in June and is coming off a torn ACL, causing him to miss the entire season. Also, he missed the final five games in 2014 with a tibial plateau fracture in his knee. When you look at his age and contract and consider that the Redskins want to get younger with their backups, it makes sense that this might happen. The Redskins might bring back some players who are over 30 in backup roles such as Will Blackmon and Pierre Thomas if they can't find cheaper and younger alternatives. The same would logically apply to a player coming off consecutive years where injuries ended his season. It doesn’t represent a huge savings, but if you can find younger players to fill the role of a special-teams/backup linebacker then you can apply nearly $1 million elsewhere. They did draft Martrell Spaight last season -- he might never start, but he could develop as a special-teams player.
Why they might not: Because the Redskins don’t have a lot of depth at inside linebacker and Hayward remains a leader on special teams. The question is, of course, whether he has anything left. Overcoming two bad leg injuries at this stage of his career might be too much. But it’ll depend on how the team views its situation moving forward; its special-teams coverage units did fairly well so it’s not as if there was a glaring hole from Hayward's absence. Still, he made a living out of being a quality special-teams player. If the Redskins bring him back, they still believe he can fill that role. Or they’re not as confident they can find someone better. The reality is, however, that there are often young linebackers available who can become good special-team standouts for a couple of years.