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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. 

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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.

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Need to Know: The five Redskins under the most pressure entering camp

Need to Know: The five Redskins under the most pressure entering camp

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, July 21, six days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 201 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 51 days.

Days until:

—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 20
—Preseason vs. Packers at FedEx Field (8/19) 29
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 43

Five Redskins who are under pressure going into training camp

QB Kirk Cousins–Going first with the most obvious. He’s under pressure to get this team back to the playoffs. Rob Kelley and Samaje Perine will help the running game and perhaps the defense will improve. But this team still will rise and fall by scoring points through the air. From his point of view, he’s on a one-year deal. If he is going to get a record long-term deal next year–or get the Redskins to cough up $35 million on the franchise tag–he’s going to need to play well.

WR Terrelle Pryor–He also is in the one-year contract situation so he needs to impress all 32 teams to drive up his value. He’s also being counted on to replace the 1,000-yard production of either Pierre Garçon or DeSean Jackson. Or maybe both. That’s a lot to put on the plate of a player in just his second full-time year at his position.

CB Josh Norman–Cousins has the highest 2017 salari on the team but Norman has the biggest contract on the team and he didn’t have the impact to match it last year. It’s not that he had a bad year but it’s reasonable to expect more interceptions and fewer penalties. It’s fair to give him a pass with it being his first year in the system. However, the Redskins have a window to release him without a debilitating cap hit after this season and if the value isn’t there you can’t rule out them pulling the trigger.

S Su’a Cravens–Everyone knows that Cravens is perhaps a step slow for a safety. He needs to make up for it with anticipation, which means paying attention to all the details in practice and doing a lot of extra film study. There is no questioning his work ethic but it’s a lot to absorb in a hurry.

OLB Preston Smith–When he is on, few are better. When he’s off, he can disappear for games on end. Consistency is the key for Smith this year. If he catches on and starts playing at his best all the time, he may be in line for a lucrative contract extension next offseason. If he falters, Trent Murphy, Junior Galette, and Ryan Anderson all will be waiting to lay claim to his snaps.

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.

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Rob Kelley hopes cutting out his favorite fast food restaurants means a better 2017

Rob Kelley hopes cutting out his favorite fast food restaurants means a better 2017

While his job and athletic ability separate him from most commoners, Rob Kelley is just like you and me when it comes to his diet. Well, when it came to his old diet, actually. 

Like many, the second-year Redskins running back loves him some crispy fried chicken, buttery, pillow-like biscuits and piping hot french fries. He also can get down with piles of nuggets, double cheesburgers and creamy milkshakes. 

But during this offseason, Fat Rob is looking less and less so, and that improvement is largely due to some new eating habits.

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"Changed the diet up," Kelley told CSN Redskins Insider JP Finlay this week at the former's youth camp (full video above). "Slowed down on the fast food and processed food and tried to eat more healthy."

When asked what places he's specifically cut out from his rotation, Kelley answered with a laugh. It wasn't a happy laugh, though — it was like one of those laughs people let out when they're feeling major pain but not trying to show it.

"Popeyes. McDonald's," he said. "Not trying to discredit those fast food places, but just, it's not working well for me."

Limiting trips to those establishments can no doubt be a difficult task (it's OK to nod your head in agreement) but it's also working for the 24-year-old. He told Finlay he thinks he's lost about six pounds since OTAs and now checks in at 229 thanks to his workouts and an increased reliance on Whole Foods, vegetables and his grill. 

But just because he's shedding pounds doesn't mean he's shedding the moniker that caught on during his rookie campaign. He may be trending closer to Svelte Rob than he is to Fat Rob these days, but No. 20 is going to keep his nickname moving forward anyway.

"It's always accurate," he said.

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