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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.

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Opposite extremes, but loss of Chris Thompson, Terrelle Pryor tell Redskins story in 2017

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Opposite extremes, but loss of Chris Thompson, Terrelle Pryor tell Redskins story in 2017

The hype train escalated for Terrelle Pryor as soon as he signed in Washington. Folks looked at his 2016 production - 77 catches for more than 1,000 yards - and immediately saw huge potential paired with Kirk Cousins. 

The hype train barely moved when Chris Thompson signed an offseason extension with the Redskins. Despite a breakout season in 2016 - 700 total yards and five touchdowns - most Redskins fans expected similar production from Thompson in 2017.

Once the season started, however, it was obvious both men were on opposite trajectories. In fact, looked at a bit more carefully, it started to show during training camp.

RELATED: WEEK 11 NFL POWER RANKINGS

While fantasy experts predicted monster stats for Pryor, it became clear he and Cousins were not exactly on the same page. Cousins is a precise passer, wanting to know when and where his targets will break off routes and where he can throw the ball to hit an open man. Pryor, for all of his size and physical prowess, is still learning the receiver position, as he played quarterback almost exclusively in his career. 

Watching practices under the Richmond sun, it was obvious Josh Doctson was the team's best wideout. Still, the praise and hype mounted for Pryor.

By Week 1, expectations far outpaced reality, and on the first offensive play of the year Pryor could not find a deep pass from Cousins. In the moment it was just one play. In hindsight, it was a microcosm of everything that was to come. 

When Jay Gruden announced Pryor would go to injured reserve and miss the remainder of the season on Monday, it almost seemed like a fair way for things to end for all parties. Pryor has talent, and maybe in a system less exacting and more volume oriented (like 2016 in Cleveland) he can accel again. It wasn't going to happen in Washington, and as his playing time and targets dwindled, there was no reason for Pryor to play through ankle pain. 

Losing Pryor shouldn't make much of an impact on the final six games of the Redskins season because, well, Pryor didn't make much impact on the first half of the season either.

Losing Thompson is another matter entirely. 

RELATED: NFL APOLOGY LITTLE MORE THAN HALLOW FOR COUSINS

The five-year veteran was in the middle of a career year, leading all NFL running backs in receiving yards and likely on his way to being named the Redskins Offensive MVP. It's hard to overstate Thompson's value to this team. He is the best runner, receiver and pass blocker the Redskins had at running back, and one of the few game-breaking talents on the field. 

Washington likely needs to run the table, win out their final six, to make the playoffs. Doing that without Terrelle Pryor won't be too difficult.

Doing that without Chris Thompson, that's going to be very difficult. 

The 2017 season will be remembered by many as a year where injuries buried the Redskins chances. Early on, Washington looked like a possible contender. 

Losing Thompson, and Pryor, tell that story, but in very different ways. 

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Need to Know: How bad are the Redskins late in each half?

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Need to Know: How bad are the Redskins late in each half?

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, November 21, two days before the Washington Redskins play the New York Giants on Thanksgiving Day at FedEx Field.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Jay Gruden press conference and open locker room, 11:45 a.m.; the team will conduct a walkthrough instead of a practice.  

Days until:

—Redskins @ Cowboys Thursday night (11/30) 9
—Redskins @ Chargers (12/10) 19
—Cardinals @ Redskins (12/17) 26

Quantifying the problem with giving up late points:

Anyone who has watched the Redskins this year knows that they have had problems keeping other teams from scoring points late in the first half and at the end of the game. How bad is the problem? Let’s look at the numbers.

The Redskins have given up 266 points on the season. That’s 31st in the NFL. Of those points, 96 have been scored in last three minutes of the first and second halves. Opponents have put up 12 touchdowns, eight one-point conversions, two two-point conversions, and four field goals.

For comparison, the average NFL team has given up around 40 points near the end of each half. Looking at defensive scores allowed only (two of the late touchdowns against Washington were on returns), the Redskins have allowed 10 touchdowns while no other team has allowed more than seven. The average is 3.96 touchdowns given up late by each team.

You can look at it this way. In the first 27 minutes of each half of their 10 games, the Redskins have given up 170 points, or about .31 points per minute. In the other six minutes of the games, the final three of each half, the Redskins give up 1.6 points per minute played.

How have the Redskins done scoring points late in each half? They have put up five touchdowns and three field goals, a total of 44 points.

How does this affect the big picture? On the season, the Redskins’ net point differential is minus-28. If you take out the late scores, they are at plus-24. It usually works out that the teams that have positive point differentials have winning records and those with negative performances are under .500.

We saw that big picture up close on Sunday. At the end of the first half, it looked like the Redskins were going to get at least a field goal as they had a nice drive going. But the drive stalled, a false start forced them to abandon even a field goal try and the Saints put together a quick drive for a field goal as time in the half ran out. Then, of course, there was the touchdown and tying two-point conversion with just over a minute left in regulation. That’s minus-10 in the last three minutes of a game they lost in overtime.

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

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