As the NFL lexicon slowly morphs into everyday language, more and more Redskins fans want to know if the team will do anything before June 1.
The NFL allows for some salary cap relief if a team releases a player from his contract after June 1. In fact, the league allows teams to designate two players as “post June 1” cuts even before free agency opens. That designation lets a team split the dead money remaining on a released player’s contract over two years rather than taking the immediate dead money hit on that year’s salary cap, freeing up money in March for free agency.
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On a local level, despite some ballooning contracts for veterans, the Redskins did not release any players with a post-June 1 designation prior to free agency. And now, as the calendar turns to June, there appear to be no cuts on the horizon.
There has been some speculation that veteran cornerback Josh Norman could be a June cap casualty. Checking in with one team official, the word was there had not been discussions about releasing Norman.
The 31-year-old corner is slated to count $14.5 million against the cap this season, and none of it is guaranteed. If the Redskins released Norman in June, they would save $11.5 million against the cap and eat $3 million in dead money this season and next. Had they released him before June, or without the June 1 designation, those numbers would have been less advantageous for the club, including the full $6 million dead cap hit this year.
But, for all the fans that question if Norman has lived up to his Redskins contract, ask this question instead:
What do the Redskins look like at cornerback without Norman?
He might not be the best corner in the NFL, but Norman has been good in Washington. He accounted for seven turnovers last season and has missed just two games in three years with the ‘Skins.
After Norman, the Redskins have Quinton Dunbar, Fabian Moreau, Adonis Alexander, Greg Stroman, Danny Johnson, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Jimmy Moreland. All have promise, some much more than others, but also have questions.
Dunbar - Looked great early in 2018 before a mysterious nerve injury ended his season. Has not been seen running full speed since though Redskins officials say he's in good shape for Richmond. Moreau - Played well at times in 2018, but doesn't look like a natural slot CB. Could 2019 be a breakthrough year? Alexander - Showed little in 2018, but has every measurable for a star CB. Lottery ticket. Stroman - Good games and bad last season as a rookie, smart player. Johnson - Started strong, ended poor. Hardly a roster lock. DRC - Last seen retiring from football in Oakland. If he's all the way in, versatile veteran presence the 'Skins could use. If he's not, probably doesn't last through Richmond. Moreland - 7th-round pick out of JMU. Has shown nose for football in OTAs. Also a 7th-round rookie out of JMU. Small, needs to show the same ability in full contact as he does in non-contact drills in May. Real chance for roster spot and maybe more if his level of play doesn't drop with pads on.
After reading that, it’s easy to understand why team officials in Ashburn aren’t talking about cutting Norman. Put simply, if the Redskins were going to cut Norman, they would have months ago and already reaped the post-June 1 cap advantage. They didn’t.
That doesn’t mean the situation won’t change. Things change in the NFL.
After losing Reuben Foster to injury, the ‘Skins might look for help at inside linebacker. Should a quality veteran come available, maybe Bruce Allen does look to create salary cap space.
If that happens, a veteran like Norman or tight end Vernon Davis could be in a different situation. Davis is set to count $6.3 million against the Redskins salary cap in 2019, and if the team cuts him in June, they would free up nearly $5 million in cap space.
Inside linebacker isn’t the only spot Washington could look for a new player or an upgrade. If a veteran pass rusher or free safety popped up, that could be intriguing. There are also the unforeseen situations that pop up from time to time.
Nobody saw the Redskins landing DeSean Jackson in 2014, but they did. And nobody saw the Redskins landing Josh Norman in 2016, but they did.
That brings things full circle to Norman, and to the June 1 cuts.
If Washington wanted to cut Norman and get the salary cap advantage of a post June 1 designation, the organization could have done that already.
Sources say it’s not happening now either.