Rosenthal posted earlier today that Redskins tight end Chris Cooley believes he’s a casualty of the lockout, due to an inability to undergo knee surgery and rehab with team trainers in March instead of July. Setting aside for present purposes that, as late as April, Cooley was playing flag football, the bigger question is whether, come 2012, he’ll be a casualty of the salary cap.
Chris Russell of ESPN 980, which is owned by Redskins owner Dan Snyder, recently reported that Cooley most likely won’t be back.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation (and contrary to at least one other explanation of Cooley’s contract), Cooley has a cap number of $6.23 million in 2012. The team can avoid paying him a base salary of $3.8 million by cutting him ay any point before Week One of the regular season, and a $100,000 workout bonus by moving on before the offseason workout program commences. (The Redskins will still have to carry his base salary on the book until cutting him.) Cooley has a separate cap charge of $2.33 million from past bonuses paid by the Redskins, along with a bonus allocation of $1.83 million in 2013.
The CBA allows each team to cut at least two players before June 1 and to treat the move like a post-June 1 transaction, which for Cooley would result in a $2.3 million cap charge in 2012 and a charge of $1.83 million in 2013. The Redskins alternatively could choose to absorb the full amount of the dead money in 2012, cutting Cooley before June 1 and taking a charge of $4.16 million.
Either way, the Redskins will carry the $2.3 million in 2012 regardless of whether Cooley is on the roster. The question is whether the team is willing to pay him another $3.8 million (along with the $100,000 workout bonus), or whether that money will be used to re-sign Fred Davis, who has emerged as a younger, and possibly more effective, option.
Though Cooley says he’s confident he’ll be back with the Redskins next year, he may have to reduce his base salary by a million or two in order to make that happen.