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Redskins have plenty of cap space, but can easily free up more

The Washington Redskins, for a change, don't have to create cap space by cutting players or offering pay cuts this offseason. They have about $60 million in cap space. But if they need to create more, there are a few players whose contracts make them vulnerable, including veteran defensive back DeAngelo Hall.

Not all of these players will be cut, or take less money, but here are some who would represent a savings if the Redskins did make a move. Remember, quarterback Kirk Cousins might take $24 million of cap space if he plays again under the franchise tag:

S Hall

2017 cap hit: $5.06 million

Contract expires: 2017

Savings if cut: $4.25 million

Why they might make a move: Hall has missed 31 of his past 48 possible games because of various injuries. He turns 34 in November, an age when it's much tougher to recover from this much missed time. Hall was playing more strong safety before he got hurt; the Redskins are moving Su'a Cravens there this offseason. Hall can still play free safety (again, as always, the safeties here need to play both). But the Redskins also have others there, including Will Blackmon, who are much cheaper and handled the position just as well. Hall was still transitioning from cornerback and getting used to how he must play when hurt.

Why they wouldn’t: The Redskins like his leadership qualities and still need depth at safety. They can find more help in free agency or the draft, but with so many needs it’s hard to fill them all. Hall said he’d be open to a pay cut and that’s a wise decision. He’s not a guaranteed starter, but his cap hit currently ranks 15th among free safeties.

C Kory Lichtensteiger

2017 cap hit: $4.05 million

Contract expires: 2017

Savings if cut: $3.5 million

Why they might make a move: Because he has only played eight games combined the past two seasons and his salary is not that of a backup. Only 13 centers count for more against the cap in '17 than Lichtensteiger. The Redskins also like how Spencer Long handled the starting center job and view him as their guy for the future. Lichtensteiger will turn 32 in March. The Redskins liked what he added when he was starting, but the injuries have left him as a backup. There’s a chance he’ll retire.

Why they wouldn’t: It’s really hard to see Lichtensteiger on the roster next season, but the only way is to take a pay cut and be a backup. Not sure that’s an option.

TE Niles Paul

2017 cap hit: $2.3 million

Contract expires: 2017

Savings if cut: $2 million

Why they might make a move: Paul missed all of 2015 and eight games in ’16 because of injuries. The Redskins want to re-sign Vernon Davis and also have Jordan Reed and Derek Carrier under contract. The Redskins would be wise to bring in another young tight end, given Davis' age (33) and Reed's durability issues.

Why they wouldn’t: Because he can still help, whether on special teams or as versatile player on offense. Paul was just starting to be more effective blocking from the fullback position when he was hurt. He’s a respected voice, on special teams in particular, and he doesn’t turn 28 until August.

G Shawn Lauvao

2017 cap hit: $5 million

Contract expires: 2017

Savings if cut: $4 million

Why they might make a move: Because he wasn’t quite as effective as he was early in the 2015 season. The Redskins do have some interior depth with Arie Kouandjio, and if they determine he could handle the position, then Lauvao could become expendable. Lauvao will turn 30 next October.

Why they wouldn’t: It would be wise for them to see where he and others are in the spring -- what sort of jump will Kouandjio make, for example? -- before deciding how to proceed. But the coaches do like Lauvao and they can also see if, with another year removed from his foot injury of 2015, he feels and plays better. If so, he can be a big help. They could give Kouandjio another year to develop, and maybe draft another interior linemen to improve depth.

DE Ricky Jean Francois

2017 cap hit: $4 million

Contract expires: 2017

Savings if cut: $3 million

Why they might make a move: Jean Francois is getting paid starter money (albeit not a high-level one; 17 ends in a 3-4 will count more). The Redskins will seek plenty of defensive line help this offseason, whether in free agency or the draft. So the starting lineup could look a lot different next season. Jean Francois would count a lot for a backup. He turns 31 in November.

Why they wouldn’t: Because he remains someone who can be part of a rotation. If the Redskins want to still use a lot of one-gap, then that’s where he fits best. Yes, the Redskins want to upgrade the line, but they still need bodies and Jean Francois could be useful. He has a history with coordinator Greg Manusky (San Francisco and Indianapolis) and new line coach Jim Tomsula (49ers). That can be good or bad, however. Depth is always needed along the front. The Redskins have three other lineman who are free agents (Chris Baker, Ziggy Hood and Cullen Jenkins).