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Corner backup plan

Corner backup plan

I've been having an online discussion with some friends of mine about the Washington Redskins cornerback position and I thought it was worth bringing up here.

The Redskins have nine corners on their roster:


Eubanks, John


Holt, Cedrick


Jackson, Eddie


Rogers, Carlos


Smoot, Fred


Springs, Shawn


Torrence, Leigh


Tryon, Justin


Westbrook, Byron


Richardson, Matteral

Springs and Smoot should start the opener if Rogers isn't yet fully recovered from the knee injury he suffered on October 28 (more on that in a bit).

Jackson and Holt have bounced around the league for a few years; they're hoping to get enough good time on film in preseason games to be able to latch on as injury fill-ins either here or elsewhere. Richardson's highest realistic aspiration as an undrafted rookie free agent is to make the practice squad.

That's where Westbrook spent last year and he'd like to make the 53-man roster this year. The team likely will keep five corners so if Rogers starts the year on the active roster (again, more coming on that subject) that means there are two jobs for Westbrook, fourth-round pick Tryon, and Eubanks and Torrence, who finished up last year as the dime and nickel corners, respectively.

Some of my friends look at that and are scared witless. At a minimum, this line of thinking goes, the Redskins needed to expend one of their second-round draft picks on a corner. Perhaps they should have pursued a free agent corner such as Drayton Florence more aggressively.

Suppose Rogers is on the shelf until October and something happens to the "injury prone" Springs. That probably leaves Torrence as the starter and Eubanks as the nickel. That's a recipe for disaster, they say.

And it may well be. I do think, though, that such a scenario involves some worst-case speculation that isn't likely to take place.

The first factor here is Rogers. We don't know that he won't be ready for the start of the season or not. It's being taken as a given by many that he won't be, given the nature of his knee injury.

Ten years ago, even five years ago, his absence for the start of the season would have been a given. Advances in surgery and rehab, however, have been dramatic. We saw Carson Palmer go down with a devastating knee injury in the playoffs in January of 2006. It was thought for a while that his career could be over. He was back under center for the Bengals the next September.

Just because Palmer made it back doesn't mean that Rogers will. Injuries are different and different players have different healing powers. But it's possible that Rogers will be ready for at least nickel back duty for the start of the season.

If he's not ready, the team will have to make a choice. Assuming that he doesn't participate in training camp because he can't pass a physical, the Redskins could put Rogers on the Physically Unable to Perform list. If that happens, he wouldn't count against the 53-player limit and he would be sidelined for a minimum of six weeks. After that, the team would have a three-week window during which Rogers could be activated. If they don't activate him during that time, he would go on injured reserve for the rest of the year.

If Rogers does go on PUP, the Redskins could choose to fill his spot with one of the younger players and start the year with essentially the same group of corners that got them through the playoff run last year and bring Tryon along in spots.

Alternatively, they could try to pick up an experienced corner who was a late roster cut and go with that player in the nickel spot as a stopgap measure.

But what if something happens to Springs?

I'm not going to say that's not a legitimate concern, but I did put "injury-prone" in quotes above for a reason. Springs' fragility is overblown.

He's been in Washington for four years. In 2004, he played in 15 games. He played in the same number in '05. Last year, he appeared in 16 games. Only in 2006, when he had a sports hernia, a hamstring injury, and, finally, a broken scapula, did he miss significant time and even that year he was in the lineup for nine games.

Springs' track record doesn't exactly qualify him for iron man status or anything, but by the same token it's inaccurate to portray him as a china doll of some sort.

Still, he's 33 and increased issues with injuries often accompany advancing age. Counting on him to stay on the field does carry some risk, just not as much as some imagine.

And if Springs is sidelined for more than a game or two and Rogers is on the PUP list, the defense will struggle, no doubt about it. You can't name more than a few teams in the NFL that wouldn't have problems if two of their three top corners were out.

All that being said, I certainly would have voiced no objection had the Redskins expended one of those three second-round picks on a corner.

In addition to providing insurance this year, a high draftee could start developing to be a replacement for Springs in the near future.

In 2009 Springs will be a year older and he will be carrying a cap number just shy of $8.5 million.

Still, I don't see the cornerback position as one that's in extreme need. Should the Redskins suffer from some misfortune, some younger players will be called on to step up.

If they have to get by for a game or two with Torrence as the starter and Tryon playing nickel, so be it. Coaches get paid six-figure incomes to figure out how to do just that without getting torched.


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Need to Know: Five Redskins who must step up in 2018

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Need to Know: Five Redskins who must step up in 2018

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, February 25, 17 days before NFL free agency starts.

I’m out this week so I’ll be re-posting some of the best and most popular articles of the past few months. Some may have slightly dated information but the major points in the posts still stand. Thanks for reading, as always.

Five Redskins who will have to step up in 2018

Originally published 12/26/17

WR Josh Doctson—This list is in no particular order but if it was, Doctson would be right here at the top. The watchword for Doctson is consistency. He makes some incredible catches and then there are throws that he drops or doesn’t quite seem to make enough of an effort to catch. There is promise there. The first-round pick has shown his ability and his teammates say he has a chance to be elite. But the potential must translate into production on the field, week in and week out.  

RB Samaje Perine—There is plenty of chatter about the Redskins’ need to sign or draft a top running back. But a look at this team’s recent history tells us that they are unlikely to invest major assets in the position. That means that Perine, a fourth-round pick in 2017, will have to become a more consistent runner. It’s not all his fault that he hasn’t done much since he had back-to-back 100-yard games in Weeks 11-12; tough defense, offensive line issues, and game score situations have slowed his production. But he needs to be consistently productive in 2018 no matter who he lines up against.

CB Josh Norman—Unless he gets a pick against the Giants, he will go through the year without any interceptions. Sure, they don’t throw his way all that often and INT’s don’t give you the complete picture of his play. But a CB taking up $20 million in cap room needs to get a couple of picks almost by sheer accident. Norman battled some injury problems and if he wants to justify the final two years and $23 million of salary remaining on his contract, his age 30 2018 season needs to be more impactful.

OLB Preston Smith—The third-year player started strong, with at least half a sack in the first five games. And he’s finishing strong, with three sacks, an interception, and a forced fumble in the last two games. But in between, he had a total of just half a sack in eight games. This follows the pattern he displayed his first two years in the league of being dominant in some games and invisible in others. If he can develop some consistency in his 2018 contract year, he could cash in huge in free agency the following year.

Head coach Jay Gruden—Normally I only include players on lists like this one but if Gruden doesn’t do something to get the Redskins out of their near-.500 rut then nothing else will matter. He needs to change up something, whether it’s pushing the players hard in training camp or perhaps fine tuning his friendly approach to the players. Sure, better luck regarding injuries and a schedule that right now appears to be a bit less challenging will help. But Gruden needs to look at what he can change, too.

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


Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 4
—NFL Draft (4/26) 60
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 196

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Need to Know: The five highest-paid 2018 Redskins

Usa Today Sports Images

Need to Know: The five highest-paid 2018 Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, February 24, 18 days before NFL free agency starts.

I’m out this week so I’ll be re-posting some of the best and most popular articles of the past few months. Some may have slightly dated information but the major points in the posts still stand. Thanks for reading, as always.

The five highest-paid Redskins in 2018

Originally published 1/12/18

This is how the five highest-paid Redskins per their 2018 salary cap numbers stack up as of now. The list could change, of course during free agency and if a particular quarterback returns. Cap numbers via Over the Cap.

CB Josh Norman, $17 million—The Redskins do have a window which would allow them to move on from Norman. His $13.5 million salary for this year doesn’t become guaranteed until the fifth day of the league year so it would be “only” a $9 million cap charge to move on from Norman, who turned 30 in December. Don’t look for that to happen but the possibility is there.

OT Trent Williams, $13.86 million—He is one of the best left tackles in the business. Those of you out there who have advocated moving him to left guard should look at this cap number, which is way out of line for what a team can afford to pay a guard. At his pay, he needs to be playing on the edge.

OLB Ryan Kerrigan, $12.45 million—He has delivered double-digit sacks in each of the two seasons that his contract extension has been in effect. That’s good value in a league that values the ability to get to the quarterback.

TE Jordan Reed, $10.14 million—The Redskins knew that he might have a year like last year when he played in only six games when they agreed to Reed’s five-year, $50 million extension. They can live with one such season. If he has another one in 2018 they may rethink things.

G Brandon Scherff, $6.75 million—The fact that a rookie contract is No. 5 on this list is a good sign that, as of now, the Redskins’ cap is not top heavy like it was last year. The top three cap hits from Norman, Williams, and Kirk Cousins totaled $59 million, which was about 35 percent of the cap. This year the total cap numbers of the top three come to $43.3 million, 24.3 percent of the estimated $178 million salary cap.

Next five: OT Morgan Moses ($5.4 million), TE Vernon Davis ($5.33 million), DL Stacy McGee ($4.8 million), DL Terrell McClain ($4.75 million), S D.J. Swearinger ($4.33 million)

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


Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 5
—NFL Draft (4/26) 61
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 197