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All about the money: Redskins ranked near bottom in 2016 defensive spending

All about the money: Redskins ranked near bottom in 2016 defensive spending

Redskins fans can blame departed defensive coordinator Joe Barry all they want for the team's disappointing 2016 finish, but looking where the team spent money in 2016, it becomes obvious that Washington did not invest enough in their defense. 

How little did the 'Skins spend on defense in 2016?

At a little more than $36 million, Scot McCloughan's team ranked 31st out of 32 NFL teams in defensive spending, only ahead of the New Orleans Saints. Considering how little money was spent, one could argue Barry's unit actually outperformed expectations, as the team finished 19th in points allowed per game. 

Conversely, the team spent more than $78 million on the offensive side of the ball.

Look again, the Redskins spent more than double on offense than they did on defense, and that's with the free agent addition of Josh Norman.

Remember, Norman did not become available until very late in free agency, so if the squad had not signed him, their defensive spending would be far and away the lowest in the league.

Drawing a conclusion from the data is not as simple as assigning blame.

McCloughan made clear he would not spend recklessly in free agency, instead wanting to build the core of the team through the draft. By and large, he's stuck to that, enough so that the 'Skins actually finished the 2016 season $15.6 million under the cap. 

RELATED: REDSKINS' MOST IMPORTANT FREE AGENTS

McCloughan also has nine draft picks at his disposal this year. Expect many of those selections to go towards rebuilding the Burgundy and Gold defense. Improving the defense, however, cannot stop at the draft. 

Washington must spend some money on that side of the ball this offseason.

That does not mean the team needs to go after the biggest names on the market, whether that's Eric Berry or Dontari Poe, but they also cannot only shop from the bargain rack either. Mid-tier free agents and perhaps one or two larger contracts must be in play for the Washington defense this season, or it won't matter what coordinator comes in to run the unit. 

Dropping dead cap money will be a big help for Washington this offseason. Last year, the Redskins had more than $16 million in dead money on their books. In 2017, that figure drops just below $7 million, with a $4.5 million chunk removed after finishing Jason Hatcher's 2016 contract. 

It's also worth pointing out that defensive spending is not an automatic entry in the playoffs. The Falcons took the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs and hardly outspent the Redskins. That said, of the seven clubs that spent the most on defense, four made the playoffs.

The Redskins should have well north of $60 million under the salary cap available to spend this offseason. A good portion of that will be used up if the team agrees to a new deal with Kirk Cousins. A long-term deal would spread the cash out over the years of the contract, though if Cousins signs another franchise tag, that's an instant $24 million gone from the possible cap spending. 

Even with a Cousins deal, Washington will have money to spend.

The team cannot only look to shore up its defense, but it must be the offseason priority.

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

Ed. Note: Salary Cap data provided by Spotrac.com.

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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#RedskinsTalk Podcast Episode 40 - Seriously, when will the Redskins pick a coordinator?

#RedskinsTalk Podcast Episode 40 - Seriously, when will the Redskins pick a coordinator?

As the Redskins settle into the offseason without both an offensive and defensive coordinator, JP Finlay and Rich Tandler debate who will get the jobs, and when they will be announced. 

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0: CORNERING THE MARKET

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Redskins defensive coordinator resume: Jason Tarver

Redskins defensive coordinator resume: Jason Tarver

The Redskins have interviewed some high-profile candidates for their open defensive coordinator position. When it was reported that they will meet with former Raiders defensive coordinator Jason Tarver, the reaction among the fans was, “Who?”

Let’s take a look at what Tarver’s qualifications are to get the job of running the Redskins’ defense.

Before becoming a coordinator: At the age of 22, Tarver took a coaching job at West Valley College in California, and did that while earning his bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Santa Clara. After that he was a graduate assistant at UCLA for three years before getting into the NFL in 2001, when the 49ers hired him as a quality control coach. Tarver worked his way up to outside linebackers coach in 2005 and did that job until 2010, when he was let go went Mike Singletary was fired as the head coach. After a year as the defensive coordinator at Stanford, Dennis Allen hired Tarver to run the Raiders defense in 2012.

More Redskins: Early first-round draft possibilities

Note: If you want more complete stats on Tarver’s defenses check out his page on Pro Football Reference. DVOA stats via Football Outsiders. A negative DVOA percentage is better than a positive number. Zero is average.

For players, * designates Pro Bowl selection, + designates first-team All-Pro

2012 Raiders (4-12)

Rankings: Yards 5,672 (18th), points 443 (28th), takeaways 19 (26th), 3rd down 39.1% (20th), DVOA 12.5% 29th
Notable players: DT Richard Seymour, DE Lamarr Houston

It should be noted that Allen had a defensive background so he had a hand in these numbers. This team just wasn’t very good as indicated by the fact that Seymour, at age 33, was one of their best defensive players.

2013 Raiders (4-12)

Rankings: Yards 5,918 (22nd), points 453 (29th), takeaways 22 (21st), 3rd down 43.1% (28th), DVOA 10.3% (26th)
Notable players: S Charles Woodson

They did make an effort to shore up the defense by bringing back Woodson and drafting cornerback D.J. Hayden in the first round. But Hayden only played in eight games and Woodson could only contribute so much at age 37. The pass defense struggled, ranking 29th in DVOA.

Related: Redskins offensive coordinator resume: Matt Cavanaugh

2014 Raiders (3-13)

Rankings: 5,721 (21st), points 452 (32nd), takeaways 14 (30th), 3rd down 38.5% (14th), DVOA 6.3% (26th)
Notable players: LB Khalil Mack, S Woodson

Allen was fired after an 0-4 start and Tony Sparano took over as interim head coach the rest of the way. Sparano has an offensive background so perhaps Tarver is more fully accountable for these results than those in other seasons. They did draft Mack with the fifth overall pick but his impact as a rookie was limited as recorded four sacks. Hayden again missed half of the season and, again, the defense was near the bottom of the NFL.

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page www.Facebook.com/RealRedskins and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.