Redskins still have little flexibility as conservative free agency approach continues

Mike Shanahan and the Redskins have little resources to work with in free agency. (Toni Sandys / The Washington Post)

Mike Shanahan and the Redskins haven’t made a splash in free agency. (Toni Sandys / The Washington Post)

The Redskins last week added cornerback E.J. Biggers to their roster, and on Wednesday, they are scheduled to host free agent defensive back Antoine Winfield. But neither move serves as an indication that Washington’s is now in better shape financially.

The Redskins remain limited by this year’s $18 million installment of the two-year $36 million salary cap penalty that the NFL imposed last season.

As of late Monday, the Redskins still had very little wiggle room under the league’s $123 million spending limit. Taking into account the salaries of the top 51 players (during the offseason, only those count against the cap) and the $18 million penalty, Washington is believed to be around $3 million under the cap, two league sources said.

But the team still needs to come up with more flexibility by either restructuring contracts or releasing players. The Redskins will need about $5 million to sign this year’s rookie class. If they were to sign a veteran defensive back like Winfield and/or re-sign tight end Fred Davis, who played under the franchise tag last season, the Redskins will have more finagling to do.

The Redskins have taken the conservative approach to free agency because of their situation.

After re-signing restricted free agents Darrel Young, Rob Jackson, Logan Paulsen, Nick Sundberg and tendering restricted free agent Chris Baker and unrestricted free agent Kory Lichtensteiger before the start of free agency, the Redskins restructured the deals of Adam Carriker, Santana Moss and Brandon Meriweather. Then they re-signed punter Sav Rocca, defensive end Kedric Golston and linebacker Bryan Kehl. The team also signed free agent tackle Tony Pashos in the first week of free agency.

Biggers signed a one-year deal last week that could be worth $1.5 million. A potential starter, he received a base salary of $635,000, a signing bonus of $365,000 and a roster bonus of $500,000. The same week, the team re-signed starting right tackle Tyler Polumbus to a two-year, $2 million deal that counts $900,000 against the cap this season.

Two weeks ago, the team signed right tackle Jeremy Trueblood to a one-year deal that carried a cap hit of just $620,000.

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