Washington Redskins add QB Case Keenum to salvage 2019 season

The Washington Redskins traded with the Denver Broncos for veteran quarterback Case Keenum. How will he impact the team’s offensive production?

On Thursday, the National Football League had an influential trade. No, not one involving a petulant receiver moving to the desolate regions of New York. This trade was a bit more practical. The Washington Redskins acquired Case Keenum from the Denver Broncos in a deal that involved swapped draft picks. Keenum spent just one year with Denver after receiving a controversial contract. 

Alex Smith

Last season, Washington traded for Alex Smith from the Kansas City Chiefs and signed him to a long term deal with a large portion guaranteed for injury, about $71 million. This is noteworthy because Smith suffered a gruesome injury in a Week 11 game against the Houston Texans that ended his season. Officially he suffered a compound fracture in his leg, more specifically a spiral fracture, meaning the bone was broken due to rotational force.

At age 34, Smith faces a lengthy recovery process. To make matters worse, after numerous surgeries, his leg became infected. This led to more surgery. There are doubts Smith can ever make it back to the field of play.

Salary cap wise, Washington would be on the hook for $20.3 million against the cap if Smith does not play this year. This leaves them looking for a cost-effective solution to address the position. With Colt McCoy set to earn just over $3 million this season, the best solution seemed to be the draft.

Then John Elway stepped in to do what he seems to do best as an executive – save the day for another team.

Denver agreed to finance a portion of the Keenum contract and Washington will now only be on the hook for just over $3 million, essentially what they’re paying McCoy. The question remains, however. How big is the drop off between Smith and Keenum?

PFN’s Offensive Share Metric

The answer lies in PFN’s Offensive Share Metric. With OSM we can see just how much Smith contributed to the success of his offense, and the same with Keenum.

Smith ranked 6th among all quarterbacks in OSM. Out of the 39 quarterbacks measured, Alex Smith was the sixth most responsible for his team’s success, relative to the other skill position players on his team. He was neutral in completion differential. He forced aggressive throws due to lack of separation from receivers. 

The Washington offense finished ranked 28th in the league, but they declined steadily after the injury and were ranked higher through Week 11, although by a small amount. So Smith’s OSM indicates that he was carrying a lot of the load.

Case Keenum

Keenum, on the other hand, ranked 25th, with the 19th ranked offense. His OSM rating indicates that he was likely inhibiting the Denver offense. He was especially poor in completion percentage differential (-1.2). This was glaring because he only needed to be aggressive 16% of the time.

I still believe Washington addresses the QB position in the draft.  No one believes Keenum is the long term answer. I would also expect a significant drop off in play. Washington should beef up the run game to help Keenum. This will set-up the play-action passing game where he is most comfortable. However, at pick 15, I’m not sure there will be a QB worth taking. Possibly Drew Lock, but he struggles with accuracy just as Keenum does.

Yes, Washington made a trade for a quarterback, but I cannot imagine this is the last move. It will be very interesting to see how this situation unfolds. This was likely only the first domino.


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