With free agency looming, it’s time to take a look at the Washington Redskins situation as it pertains to the open market. After placing the exclusive franchise tag on Kirk Cousins the Redskins now have 12 players from the 2016 roster that will not be under contract as of 4:00 pm EST on Thursday. Once a team places the franchise tag on a player, the salary is automatically deducted from the cap, which means after Cousins $23.94 million dollar hit the team now has $34,600,921 in space remaining.

The franchise can free more space up by releasing some players, although they may have to wait to designate some of those roster cuts until after June 1 to avoid paying some roster bonuses, meaning the team would still be stuck with the contracts for now.

Take care of your own first

Before the Redskins can move forward with free agency, they must first sign their own guys who fit the scheme/movement the team has put together the last two seasons. Having only $34.6 million (keep in mind $6-$7.5 million of that will go to draft picks) in which to do everything with may prove extremely challenging in the inflated free agent market 2017 will bring. The team has several key free agents that will receive ample attention from several other teams.

Who should stay and who should go

  • Pierre Garcon WR – It’s no secret what Garcon brings to the Redskins. He has been, without argument, the best and most dependable receiver the Redskins have had over the last few years. Problem is the team is cash strapped after having to dump tons of money into keeping Cousins, and may be forced to push Josh Doctson into Pierre’s role whether the second year pro is ready for it or not. Expect the team to make an offer, hopefully Pierre wants to be stay in Washington because he’ll see other potential suitors that will offer more.
  • DeSean Jackson WR – While losing DeSean may actually be the toughest out of everyone else this year it’s become completely clear that his asking price will be way out of the Redskins league. The only way Jackson will return is if he’s willing to take less money.
  • Chris Baker DL – It’s only a matter of time until the Redskins offer Baker a new deal, but you can expect several other teams to be interested in him including Denver and Tampa Bay. He wants to return to Washington and the team wants him back, hopefully they can get something worked out.
  • Vernon Davis TE – Davis has already said he wants to come back to Washington, his hometown, and the team has expressed the same desire to have him back as well. He's still in great shape and proved his football skills are just fine last year.
  • Greg Toler CB – Toler could possibly be brought back for a small deal as depth in the secondary.
  • Terrance Garvin LB – Garvin meant a lot to the special teams unit, and will likely find his way back on the Redskins roster as a low-priority signing.
  • Ziggy Hood DL – Hood played okay despite being asked to play out of position at nose tackle most of the season. He could possibly be back with Washington for a cheap contract but expect him to play defensive end if he does.
  • Kedric Golston DL – The longest tenured Redskins player won’t be back with the team in 2017 as they look to go younger.
  • Duke Ihenacho S – Ihenacho never quite panned out into a starter while in Washington. It’s possible he could return on a cheap contract, but not a given.
  • John Sullivan C – Sullivan filled in well for Spencer Long last year when he was injured and could find his way back on the roster.
  • Cullen Jenkins DL – At 36 Jenkins is simply too old for the Redskins to build anything around on the defensive line.
  • Donte Whitner S – The Redskins are looking for more production out of the safety position from younger players. It doesn’t help Whitner’s case that he seemed to miss more tackles than he made in the open field last year.