In my article last week about Kirk Cousins, I used the metric of of yards per target as a way to evaluate the Redskins’ receivers.. Cousins’ NFL leading 69.8% completion percentage increased the effectiveness of their short passing game and led to 7.3 yards per attempt, which was seventh in the NFL.
In all sports we know that contracts dictate playing. The more a player earns the more opportunity he will receive regardless of the the failures on the field. The money shapes the decision making process, often times for the worse. In Washington there is a unique situation where it’s the exact opposite. The player getting paid the most is sitting on the bench, not because he isn’t the best player but because there is the threat of having to pay him significantly more money next year. Washington is like a team that has a player very close to earning a large incentive where they are sitting the player to prevent him from earning it, except in those cases all you get is an upset player. The overall impact on a team isn’t tremendous since its usually just managing one game out of 16. With RGIII, however, the front office is impacting the overall results on the field because they refuse to even allow him to suit up to play football because of a potential $16.5 million cap charge looming over their head next season. Continue reading When Contracts Dictate Playing Time: Washington, Cousins, and RGIII »
Last year the Cowboys extended Tyron Smith to a contract worth $12.2 million a season that was the new standard bearer for the position. However, when looked at much closer, it really wasnt the market mover many thought as the Cowboys negotiated a contract that would trail Joe Thomas of the Browns in every key metric. While Washington pushed the bar much further with Trent Williams on his $66 million contract, there are still many similarities to the Thomas deal. That said we can expect this contract to become a new standard in negotiating a long term deal at the position. Continue reading Trent Williams Resets the Market for Left Tackles »
According to Dianna Russini of ESPN, Washington has made the decision to start Kirk Cousins over Robert Griffin III in the season opener.
Sources say the plan is not only to start Kirk Cousins tonight in Baltimore, but also week 1 against Miami.
— Dianna Marie Russini (@diannaESPN) August 29, 2015
So of course that now brings up the question of what is next for RGIII so lets take a quick look at his contract to see what options Washington has moving forward. Continue reading Quick Look at RGIII’s Contract »
Estimated 2015 Cap Space: $13.8 million ($140M cap limit)
Players Under Contract: 47
Pro Bowlers: 1
Unrestricted Free Agents: 13(4 with 50%+ playtime)
Draft Selection: 5
Salary Cap Breakdown
Free Agents to Re-sign
Washington is coming off a terrible season and while they have a number of free agents, none were particularly good. Roy Helu has a defined role on the team and is a good third down option. Running backs are not expensive so there is no reason for them not to pursue Helu, though it is possible that Helu will prefer a new home…Nobody can predict what Washington’s plan is with Robert Griffin III but having Colt McCoy as a $1 million or less backup can’t hurt.
Free Agents to Let Walk
Almost all of them…Washington continues to be one of the worst constructed teams in the NFL and they can help fix that by turning the roster over and rebuilding. Brian Orakpo can be a very good pass rusher but he is inconsistent and at this stage injured too often for this team. They can’t afford to keep him unless he takes a low priced one year contract…Brandon Meriweather isn’t terrible but he is a headache to deal with and one of the few players who seems to give no effort to observing the player safety rules changes… Santana Moss and Ryan Clark have had terrific NFL careers, but they are now at an end. Essentially Washington should let everyone walk unless they come back on a non-guaranteed contract for the minimum.
Contracts to Modify
Ryan Kerrigan is set to count for just over $7 million on the salary cap, which is a great value but Washington can use the cap space and there is no need to wait on extending him. He is a terrific pass rusher…Trent Williams may not be Orlando Pace, but he is certainly a good tackle. He is entering the final year of his contract with a cap figure over $13.5 million. He can be extended in the $9-10 million range with that cap number coming down…Pierre Garcon’s efficiency dropped tremendously in 2014 and is set to earn over $7 million next season. He has no guaranteed money left in his contract and would get lost in the free agent shuffle. He should be willing to take a pay cut.
Players to Consider Releasing
Stephen Bowen took a $2 million paycut last season, but after another unproductive and injury filled year it is time to cut ties. The team will create $5.5 million in cap room by releasing him…Though productive, DeSean Jackson should be put on the trade block as they need to shake the team up and he still has value that may not be there next season. Considering there was a team willing to pick up Percy Harvin’s contract someone should be willing to take on Jackson’s $7.5 million salary. If they can trade him they can save $5.5 million in cap space.
Unlike the other teams at the top of the draft, Washington is the first to not have tons of cap room to spare in 2015. Though some of the above moves can save the team anywhere from $12-19 million, Washington also has to prepare for an eventual franchise type tag on RGIII and a ballooning salary for Kerrigan. In the event the QB situation doesn’t improve they also don’t want to be bogged down with bad contracts for aging players, whose remaining prime years will go to waste while developing a quarterback. Creating cap space to find a short term band aid is going to hurt the team long term.
It is hard to make a case for the team to keep adding veteran players to a bad mix. That doesn’t mean they will not do it as ownership has shown time and time again the belief that the bad team can be fixed from outside, even though the end result is usually a more expensive bad team. There is no need for Washington to be signing 30+ year old defensive linemen and linebackers to multi year contracts but you can never rule it out. The two areas where they should consider free agency are right tackle and safety where you can usually find affordable players that can be very good right off the bat, though safety is a weak group this year.
But if they are ever to get back to being the dominant franchise they were in the past they need to start the process of focusing on the draft and clearing out some of the dead weight from the roster. Expect draft targets to be cornerback, interior O-line, linebacker, and safety. The Redskins are the only team in the NFL to have no contracts beyond the 2017 year so this draft class is really their future. If they have a strong draft and the QB play returns to where it was a few years ago that might signal turning the corner.
The Washington Redskins have benched Robert Griffin III, which likely indicates the end of the road for Griffin with the Redskins organization. Let’s look at the financials of his contract, what might happen in the future with him, and what a mess it was that got them to this point.
Releasing Griffin is not going to be a popular option for Washington next season due to the guarantees in his contract. Griffin was lucky enough to be drafted in the 2012 season when the concept of “no offsets” became a big clause in highly drafted rookie contracts. What that means is if the Redskins were to release Griffin, he would collect money from the Redskins and whatever other team in the NFL sign him. His fully guaranteed salary is $3,269,877 in 2015. That makes the Redskins preferred option is the trade of Griffin where the guaranteed salary will transfer to the new team and thus save the Redskins a $3 million charge.
Finding a trade partner might not be the easiest thing for Washington. It is already a given they will not get value for RGIII. Not only does he look like a broken QB, but he only has one more season under contract. A team can exercise an option for 2016, but the cost of that option is the cost of the 2015 Transition tag for QBs, which will likely be in excess of $15 million. A team only has until May 3 of 2015 to exercise the option and while it is only initially guaranteed for injury, Griffin’s injury history will likely make the price too steep.
So any team trading for him will almost certainly look at this as a one year marriage and not pick up the option. That means you need to have the confidence that your organization can spend the time “fixing” him and signing him long term to a reasonable contract if you do fix him. When Mark Sanchez was released by the Jets this season he found lukewarm interest in free agency, eventually settling for a low guarantee/cost contract from the Eagles who were willing to take that chance due to his potential upside. His most likely destination would be to a team with no quarterback that may not have the potential to draft one this season. Teams like the Jets, Rams, and Texans would be the most likely fits to take a one year flier on him. You might throw the Vikings and even Eagles into that mix, though I cant see another Washington/Philadelphia trade occuring.
Washington has come under a great deal of scrutiny for this decision. A number of people believe you should make him play through this and force him to learn while others realize he wasn’t playing at an NFL level and needed to be benched. The Redskins needed to make this move for the future of their team, as crazy as it sounds. They have 52 other players on that team to consider and the way Griffin acted at times after these games he likely alienated every one of them. It is one thing to believe in a young, potential superstar, but its another to have a failing player bring down a whole organization.
Playing him at this point was not going to help or hurt his trade value, but the threat of injury was real and that would destroy any trade value which made this move a must in my opinion. His lack of awareness was startling last week and there is almost no chance his body would hold up to that beating again. To get anything for him he has to be healthy and this is the only way to accomplish this.
Thats not to say Washington has handled him well. They are the most dysfunctional organization in the NFL and everything they did with him just added to the mess. The Redskins gave him the keys to the kingdom before he really ever took a snap in the NFL. Head coach Mike Shanahan tailored an offense to his skillset in 2012 and Griffin exceeded all expectations as he was clearly the most successful of the top QB’s drafted that season. But success seemed to go to his head and the Redskins protection of him just fed into that. Shanahan had a similar issue with Jay Cutler in Denver where his constant praise just added to an attitude that still follows Cutler to this day.
RGIII was injured and had a falling out with Shanahan that offseason. Washington’s handling of the QB at that point was ridiculous. Because of his shortcomings in running a pro style offense he needed a real offseason of work to continue to grow in 2013. The injury made that impossible, at least from a physical standpoint. They still decided he should be the starter at the opening of the regular season, a decision that seemed to come from the owner. Griffin didn’t look healthy and regressed, falling far behind fellow draft mate Andrew Luck who improved tremendously in year 2. Eventually RGIII got the coach fired.
Under new coach Jay Gruden, RGIII looked even more unprepared than he did under Shanahan. He looked terrible and these last few weeks looked as if he was mentally checking out of the games. His coach undressed him in a press conference after Griffin ripped the effort level of his team, in a bizarre scene that showed how far this rift had gotten. Gruden made a stand and had to have ownerships back at this point to keep the other 52 guys focused on a future that would include the coach but not the QB.
The trade for RGIII will likely go down as one of the worst draft trades in the NFL. Though I do think a fair argument could be made for the Rams not trading away that pick the fact was they fleeced the Redskins in terms of value. The trade illustrates the premium that teams put on the QB position as no other recent trades have come close to that kind of one sided nature. RGIII has now failed with two coaches, both of whom could not stand him by the end of the season, and rubbed most of his teammates the wrong way. Its a disaster. In the end the Redskins paid a huge price, got one playoff game, and two years of headaches and drama because of it.
[adsenseyu1] For those of you who enjoy the Power Rankings I do during the season here is a look at the efficiency rankings of all the Super Bowl champions. For those unfamiliar with the rankings what these percentiles measure is the percent a team either scores or prevents an opponent from scoring above or below their schedules average for the season. So for example a team with a scoring efficiency of 25% means that team scored 25% more points per game than their opponents gave up that season. A defensive score of 25% means that a team held their opponents to 25% below their normal scoring output on the season. The stats are for regular season only.
While most people consider the 1985 Bears the greatest team of all time they actually only rank 4th on this system. The top team is the little praised Redskins who really dominated the league in 1991. The team’s opponents allowed just 19 PPG while the Redskins scored over 30. It’s the top performing scoring unit in the history. The defense wasn’t a slouch either holding teams to 24% below their averages.
The 1996 Packers, who looked like they were going to be the next dynasty franchise, ranked second with a tremendous all around tea. The 73 Dolphins rank 3rd and were far superior to the undefeated team in 1972 that faced a much easier schedule. The 75 Steelers fill out the top 10. The worst SB champions have been the 70 Colts, 11 Giants, 07 Giants, 01 Patriots, and 87 Redskins, though it’s the bottom 4 that are teams that really surprise as being on the list of champions.
The most productive scoring came from the 91 Redskins, 77 Cowboys, 98 Broncos, 09 Saints, and 94 49ers. Only two teams had a below average scoring output and those were the 01 Patriots and 02 Buccaneers. The 90 Giants, 00 Ravens, and 81 49ers would round out the bottom 5. Defensively the best unit was not the 85 Bears or 00 Ravens but the 73 Dolphins who just edge ot the 02 Buccaneers, who I think people forget when discussing the great defensive teams. The 66 Packers, 85 Bears, and 75 Steelers are the other best ranking teams. At the bottom of the list are the 06 Colts, 11 Giants, 09 Saints, 07 Giants, and 98 Broncos, all of whom were below average.
Perhaps not so surprisingly is that no teams from the current era are close to the top of this list as the NFL is filled with parity and a lack of dominant teams that can run all the way to a title. The 2004 Patriots just cracked the top 10 and the next closest team is the 00 Ravens at 19 and 10 Packers at 22. Of the 13 lowest ranking teams, 6 are from 2001 onwards.
The current era will be represented better by either the Seahawks or Broncos either of whom would rank in the top 20. The Broncos would have the best scoring output of any team on this list but would also grab the “title” for worst defense and it would be by a wide margin. It would be unlikely to see either mark broken anytime soon. The Seahawks defense would rank 9th all time, which is pretty impressive considering the way the rules have skewed to the offenses in this era.
The table below should be fully sortable.
Super Bowl Champion Rankings
|2||1996||Green Bay Packers||45.84%||32.45%||78.29%|
|6||1984||San Francisco 49?ers||36.26%||28.10%||64.36%|
|7||1966||Green Bay Packers||18.57%||43.55%||62.12%|
|8||1999||St. Louis Rams||39.72%||22.12%||61.84%|
|9||1994||San Francisco 49?ers||48.21%||10.52%||58.73%|
|10||2004||New England Patriots||31.97%||26.73%||58.70%|
|11||1969||Kansas City Chiefs||16.30%||40.95%||57.25%|
|17||1989||San Francisco 49?ers||27.18%||25.88%||53.06%|
|22||2010||Green Bay Packers||12.70%||33.37%||46.07%|
|25||1967||Green Bay Packers||16.18%||28.73%||44.91%|
|27||2009||New Orleans Saints||50.80%||-6.76%||44.04%|
|29||2002||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||-2.94%||45.79%||42.85%|
|31||1986||New York Giants||13.39%||27.10%||40.49%|
|33||1990||New York Giants||1.17%||36.89%||38.06%|
|34||1968||New York Jets||33.21%||4.01%||37.22%|
|35||2003||New England Patriots||12.74%||23.67%||36.41%|
|37||1981||San Francisco 49?ers||6.42%||24.07%||30.49%|
|39||1988||San Francisco 49?ers||19.16%||8.88%||28.04%|
|44||2001||New England Patriots||-1.54%||12.58%||11.04%|
|45||2007||New York Giants||9.94%||-0.61%||9.33%|
|46||2011||New York Giants||15.29%||-7.09%||8.20%|
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