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Extending Ryan Kerrigan, other moves could give Redskins big cap space

ASHBURN, Va. — The Washington Redskins created more salary-cap space a week ago, releasing cornerback Josh Norman and receiver Paul Richardson.

That freed up an additional $15 million, giving the Redskins about $54 million in cap space. They could create more through cuts or extensions and become a bigger player in NFL free agency if they choose.

Here’s a look at several key players and their financial situations:

Jordan Reed, tight end

2019 stats: He didn’t play because of a concussion suffered in the third preseason game.

2020 cap hit: $10.3M | Dead money if cut: $1.8M | Cap savings: $8.5M

The Redskins will release Reed, it’s just a matter of when. He was finally cleared from the concussion protocol Wednesday, six months after a helmet-to-helmet hit by Atlanta safety Keanu Neal. The shame of it for Reed and the Redskins: He looked better in camp than he had in several years and was primed for a strong season. Instead, his football future remains in doubt because of recurring concussions. He was a matchup nightmare, and the attention he received created openings for other targets. Reed never played more than 14 games in a season.

Ryan Kerrigan, linebacker/defensive end

2019 stats: He saw a consecutive-games-played streak snapped at 139 last season and ended 2019 on injured reserve. In 12 games, he recorded a career-low 5.5 sacks.

2020 cap hit: $11.69M | Dead money if cut: None | Cap savings: $11.69M

Kerrigan is on this list because many questions get asked about him. But the reality has always been that an extension is far more likely than anything else. Washington owner Dan Snyder remains high on him, and has communicated that to Kerrigan. Multiple sources who know Snyder well have long predicted an extension. Kerrigan wants to remain in Washington, hoping to finally be here when the team is good. If the Redskins select Chase Young with the No. 2 pick in the 2020 NFL draft, pairing him at end with 2019 first-round pick Montez Sweat, it would be hard to justify Kerrigan’s salary. However, that’s where the extension enters: The Redskins could lower his cap hit this season, keep him around a couple more years and let him play in a role like pass-rusher Chris Long had in New England and Philadelphia.

Having pass-rush depth will always be pivotal. While San Francisco benefited from drafting Nick Bosa, it also traded for pass-rusher Dee Ford in the same offseason. Kerrigan’s return would allow flexibility with the draft. That way if the Redskins received a big haul in return for the No. 2 pick and passed on Young, they would still have a proven player in Kerrigan.

Trent Williams, left tackle

2019 stats: He held out for the first eight games and, after he reported, the Redskins failed his physical because his helmet didn’t fit following a surgical procedure on his scalp. He was then placed on the non-football injury list, ending his season.

2020 cap hit: $14.5M | Dead money if cut: $2.0M | Cap savings: $12.5M

The Redskins aren’t releasing Williams, but they could ultimately trade him. He was clearly upset with the organization about how his medical situation was handled, but two apparent primary targets of his anger — team president Bruce Allen and head athletic trainer Larry Hess — were fired. That cleared one hurdle. The second one involves money; after returning last season, Williams said he would have reported despite the issues had the team guaranteed the final two years of his contract. The Redskins declined. Now he has one year left, so they could either guarantee his $12.5 million base salary this season or extend him. The fact that new coach Ron Rivera has reached out to him suggests he has Snyder’s blessing to get something done. And that’s a good sign for those who want Williams back. Even if the Redskins traded Williams and received a late first- or second-round pick, he’d be hard to replace. They’re better with him, and Williams told ESPN in December that he still loves his teammates.

Quinton Dunbar, cornerback

2019 stats: He led the Redskins with four interceptions in 11 games.

2020 cap hit: $4.42M | Dead money if cut: $1.0M | Cap savings: $3.42M

Dunbar isn’t happy that he has no guaranteed money this season and threatened to sit out the voluntary spring workouts. He also requested a trade or to be released if the Redskins did not view him as a long-term solution at cornerback. Dunbar later walked that back, but he would like a new deal. One source close to him said there would be no negotiations once training camp begins. One talent evaluator felt Dunbar could be worth a third- or fourth-round pick in a trade. His length and speed — and the fact he’s only 27 — make him a desirable cornerback. He’s been solid for Washington, but has missed a combined 14 games the past two seasons — his first two as a full-time starter — which could limit his value or force him to take a contract with escalator clauses to protect the team in case he gets hurt again.

Morgan Moses, right tackle

2019 stats: He started every game at right tackle, but tied for the team high with 11 penalties.

2020 cap hit: $8.65M | Dead money if cut: $3.8M | Cap savings: $4.85M

While the Redskins would get cap relief, it makes no sense to create another potential issue on the offensive line by parting ways with Moses. With Williams’ situation uncertain — even if trending positively — and with two free-agent guards (Brandon Scherff and Ereck Flowers), why create another hole? Geron Christian, a third-round pick in 2018, has not shown that he could develop into a quality starter. Moses’ play improved in the second half of 2019 after a rough start, and he committed three penalties in the final six games. Moses, despite some health issues, has not missed a game since becoming a full-time starter in 2015. The key offseason for Moses will be 2021: If the Redskins wanted to move on, they could save $7.75 million if they cut or traded him.

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