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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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Redskins Playbook: 3 under-the-radar players that could make big impact

Redskins Playbook: 3 under-the-radar players that could make big impact

Much of the Redskins offseason has been focused on players like Josh Norman and Kirk Cousins, or the addition of guys like Terrelle Pryor and Zach Brown. Further down the roster, however, is where games are won. Here's a look at three players that will have the opportunity to make a big impact in 2017.

  1. Kendall Fuller - Let's be honest: the second-year Hokie had a tough rookie year. He started the season injured, and probably wasn't all the way up to speed when he began playing Week 4. Early on he produced at a good level for a rookie, but quickly, the league saw how to beat him. In a November game against the Vikings, Fuller repeatedly got beat on the inside by Vikings wideout Stefon Diggs. After that, the Redskins coaching staff looked elsewhere for a slot corner. 2017 is a new season, and Fuller will be a full year removed from his knee injury. He still has good vision and hips, an NFL pedigree, and should have the first crack at the slot corner role. If he can produce like many expected from him in 2015 - when he was an assumed first-round pick - Fuller could make a big difference for the Washington defense. Third round draft pick Fabian Moreau might also push for snaps at corner, once he gets healthy. 
  2. Stacy McGee - A new addition to the defense, McGee might be the answer Redskins fans want at nose tackle. Last season was by the far the best of McGee's career, and he emerged as a strong run stopper in Oakland. With his frame, and Jim Tomsula's coaching, McGee might play a big role this fall. His biggest hurdle? Staying healthy. In four seasons in the NFL, McGee has only played 16 games one season. Last year, he was limited to just nine games.
  3. Spencer Long - A free agent at the end of the season, Long comes in to 2017 looking to prove he can be a top tier center in the NFL. He excelled in pass blocking and calling the assignments on the Redskins line, but his run blocking could improve this fall. The literal centerpiece of a strong, young 'Skins line, 2017 will be a big opportunity for Long. Don't forget Washington moved up to draft Chase Roullier from Wyoming in the 6th round, and he played center and guard in college. Life in the NFL always has pressure, and Long will be facing some.

Always something on social: Enjoy the weekend folks.

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Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN 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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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Who will surprise, who will play NT

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Who will surprise, who will play NT

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, May 27, 17 days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp on June 13.

Timeline

It’s been 146 days since the Redskins played a game. Their season opener against the Eagles at FedEx Field is in 106 days.

Days until:

—Redskins minicamp (6/13) 17
—Training camp starts (7/27) 61
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 75

The Redskins week that was

Here are some of the most popular post from the last week on www.CSNmidatlantic.com and on www.RealRedskins.com

How well will the Redskins' defense adjust to six new starters? The Redskins unquestionably got an infusion of defensive talent but as we have seen in the past that does not guarantee better results. Throw a new defensive coordinator into the mix and it could take some time for this unit to reach its full potential. I think that there will be struggles early in the season and a better (but not dominant) unit by the time November rolls around.

Which Redskins will surprise in 2017? Every player carries expectations into the season. Some will be better than we believe right now (think of what many thought Vernon Davis would do last year) and some will play worse (Josh Doctson). I take out the crystal ball to figure out who will exceed expectations and who will fall below them.

Don't count out 3rd straight franchise tag for Cousins—Yes, Bruce Allen said that he is willing to franchise tag Kirk Cousins for a third time next year, a move that would cost $34 million for one season. But I think that’s a total bluff; the Redskins’ salary cap situation for 2018 would make such a move very difficult for them to pull off. The best hope for Cousins being a Redskin in 2018 is getting him signed to a long-term contract by July 15 of this year. The tone of the conversation regarding a new deal has been positive lately but the team must come up with a serious offer for a deal to happen.

For Redskins, finding a nose tackle needs to be a priority—Well, it’s up to Jim Tomsula to “make” a nose tackle. Phil Taylor is a true NT and he will get a shot. But he hasn’t played a snap since 2014. Undrafted free agent Ondre Pipkins also has nose tackle size at 6-3, 325. But he is a long shot, as are the Redskins’ chances of being significantly better against the run if they don’t find someone, anyone to be an adequate solution as the nose tackle.

Did Vernon Davis make the NFL change celebration rules? Although I prefer the John Riggins way of celebrating a touchdown—hand the ball to the referee because you’ve been in the end zone before and you expect to be back again soon—elaborate celebrations don’t bother me. After a TD in a game I’m covering I’m focused on writing about the scoring drive. When I’m watching at home, my attention goes to Twitter or to the refrigerator. I do think that it was dumb for the Redskins to lose 15 yards of field position because Vernon Davis put a jump shot over the crossbar so that’s why I’m glad that the NFL changed the celebration rules.

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