The Redskins have spent the two months since their elimination from the playoffs hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. Their plans for the worst almost got put to the test. On a couple of occasions they were hours or just minutes from having to pull the trigger on executing a series of restructured contracts and player releases that would have put them just under the scheduled cap of $94.5 million.
With the 30-2 vote to approve the new CBA, the NFL owners gave the Redskins more options for 2006. The cap went up to $102 million. More importantly, the Redskins can utilize their original plan to convert about a half a dozen players' roster bonuses into guaranteed money, spreading the cap impact of them out over the next several years. This maneuver would not have been possible to execute without a CBA extension without some other adjustments to those players' contracts.
Those conversions, LaVar Arrington's release agreement and some other player releases will get the Redskins somewhere between $10 and $15 million under the cap and able to start addressing some needs via free agency.
The first area the team is likely to address is locking up some of its own free agents. Starters safety Ryan Clark and tight end Robert Royal are considered to be priorities and neither should be tremendously costly to sign. Backup running back Rock Cartwright is close to resigning with the Redskins, but reserve defensive end Demetric Evans is likely to see if he can get an opportunity to start elsewhere before deciding on whether or not he will return to the Redskins.
While the positions the team would like to improve via other teams' free agents have been discussed, the details such as the players they would like to pursue have not. At wide receiver, the Redskins have been linked to both Issac Bruce, late of the Rams, and Antwaan Randle El of the Steelers. To bolster the defensive end position, there has been talk of pursuing a trade for John Abraham of the Jets.