Bashaud Breeland might be back with the Redskins in 2018, but the cornerback will first get the chance to test free agency, per multiple sources close to the situation.
Drafted out of Clemson in the fourth round in 2014, Breeland has mostly been a starter for the Redskins the last four seasons. At times brilliant in coverage and at times a frustration for coaches, Breeland will likely find multiple suitors in free agency.
Asked on Thursday if the Redskins had engaged in contract talks yet this season, Breeland answered simply, "No."
"I'm not even sure what's going on," Breeland explained to NBC Sports Washington. "I'm just playing ball."
This year, Breeland has played in 14 of 15 games, registering 45 tackles, 16 passes defensed and one interception that he ran back for a touchdown. In an early December game against Los Angeles, Breeland was benched early, only to come back and grab a pick six late in the blowout loss.
Breeland has started 56 games to go with eight interceptions in four seasons with the Redskins. He has talent, size and physicality, yet Washington has repeatedly made moves to supplant their cornerback group.
In a late November press conference that might explain the Redskins' feelings about Breeland, Washington head coach Jay Gruden said that after some struggles the cornerback had, "bounced back and done some good things... I like the way he plays. I like the way he tackles. He’s a physical corner, so I think he’s in a good position to get a nice contract."
It's telling that the coach expects Breeland to "get a nice contract," but did not make it sound like that contract would come written in Burgundy and Gold.
In 2016, the team signed Josh Norman to a five-year, $75 million deal in free agency and drafted Kendall Fuller in the third round. In 2017, the Redskins added Fabian Moreau in the third round of the draft. Quinton Dunbar, a restricted free agent in 2018 with good range that the Redskins coaching staff likes, will likely cost significantly less to keep in Washington as well.
With that depth at corner, it's no surprise if Breeland plays on a new team in 2018.
"I'm just patiently waiting to see whether that's still with the Washington Redskins or with a new family," Breeland said. "I understand the business. There's no hard feelings. I just want to play ball."
During his tenure with Washington, Breeland has earned about $3.3 million. His payday in free agency could be much more, though he explained during an honest locker room conversation that his next deal will be about more than cash.
"It's not about the money, it's about the respect level," Breeland said. "Me playing, me leaving, it's about starting to become something that I wanted to be. My vision when I stepped into this league was becoming a dominant corner in this league, someone my team can depend on. I feel like that time is right around the corner."
Breeland switched agents earlier this year, though that's not uncommon for players in a contract year.
For many NFL players, a second contract in the league presents the opportunity to finally choose your own path. The first deal a player gets, a rookie contract, usually comes out of the draft and with a slotted pay scale.
"Coming into the league you don't really get the option to really pick where you want to go. Now the ball will be in my court," Breeland said. "It is exciting because this is the time you really find out who really wants you."
If those words sound familiar, it's because Redskins quarterback and possible free agent Kirk Cousins has said largely the same thing, a version of wanting to be wanted.
For Breeland, it's just about the same.
"If they want you, they'll make you feel wanted."
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