Why Washington's overspending on offensive personnel is troubling for 2019
As teams settle into their training camp routines across the country, the stench of true competition permeates the air. Done are the days of fighting for free agents and trying to outsmart other front offices when it comes to the draft. In are the days of proving how well the team has actually been put together on the field.
The Washington Redskins will be looking to improve on a unit which ranked just 29th in the league in DVOA in 2018, a metric that looks at how well they perform over league average on a play-by-play basis.
In the NFL, the accounting and the athletics are almost always directly related. It's too brutal of a sport, with too many moving parts for the business side not to be directly related to the performance on the field. Unfortunately, the Washington Redskins have always been able to make a splash in the offseason but success on the field, getting bang for their buck, has proven difficult.
Even though it was a relatively quiet offseason for Washington, they did major shopping in years past.Still, it's surprising to look at the salary cap reports for each team and see the Redskins atop the heap of spending on the offense in 2019. They certainly don't have one of the best offenses in the league.
Of the $188 million teams can spend on the salary cap, Washington is dishing out $118 million towards their offense.
Washington's $30.4 million spent on the quarterback position is fifth-most in the league. Most of that is spent on Alex Smith, who won't take a snap this season.
Their $9.9 million spent on the running back position ranks 13th, while their $16.1 million spent on wide receivers ranks a lowly 28th. It's not the notable skill positions that are the problem.
No, thanks to the big deals given out to Jordan Reed ($9.7 million) and Vernon Davis ($6.3 million), Washington leads the league in spending on the tight end position at $18.25 million.
Finally, the offensive line group, thanks to the big deal given to Trent Williams ($14.7 million) and the $12.5 million fifth-year option of right guard Brandon Scherff, they rank fifth again, at $44.3 million.
Are they getting the right returns on investments?
Clearly the Smith money couldn't be avoided, that was just a freak injury which cascaded into them not only spending a first round pick sooner than they wanted, but also in the acquisition of Case Keenum. Keenum and Colt McCoy make roughly the same amount, $3.5 million and $3.375 million respectively. Dwyane Haskins' rookie deal slaps at $2.6 million.
The Washington offensive line, another high expense area, finished just 26th in adjusted line yards - a Football Outsiders metric that looks at how much of rushing yardage is attributed to the offensive line's play. When it comes to the more important metric of pass protection, they ranked just 24th in adjusted sack rate, giving up a QB takedown on 8.5% of their drop backs.
A lot has been made of Bill Callahan as the OL coach, but if one is looking for where the value is being drained from the roster, the offensive line is the first place to look. With Williams holding out and demanding a trade, this inequity might be even more drastic in 2019, and directly impact the money invested into the QB position.