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Gruden on unheralded CB Dunbar: 'He’s going to be a good one'


Gruden on unheralded CB Dunbar: 'He’s going to be a good one'

One of the biggest surprises of the Redskins’ 2015 season was, without a doubt, the emergence of rookie wide-receiver-turned-cornerback Quinton Dunbar.

But now that he’s established himself as an NFL-caliber player, the stakes will be even higher in 2016.

Coach Jay Gruden said recently that Dunbar got by last season thanks to raw athleticism, instincts and fearlessness. This coming fall, Gruden added, he must polish his technique and add another layer of sophistication to his understanding of the position in order to take the next step.

“When I saw him one-on-one against [Odell] Beckham [Jr.] and Dez [Bryant], the first couple times I kind of closed my eyes and just listened for the cheers,” Gruden joked about putting Dunbar on some of the league's top receivers. “But the more you watched him, the more confident he got and I think he was just raw enough to where he didn’t really realize who he was covering. He just went out there and covered them.”

RELATED: Can Redskins' Cousins become a top 5 quarterback

By the second half of last season, Dunbar wasn’t just getting spot duty at cornerback. He was playing a lot. In fact, his 267 regular season snaps ranked third among rookies on defense (behind only Kyshoen Jarrett and Preston Smith).

Dunbar played a pivotal role in one of the Redskins’ biggest wins of the season—their 20-14 triumph over the Giants in late November. He picked off Eli Manning in the end zone to preserve a 17-0 second half lead, and finished with a career-high two defended passes.

This offseason will be an important one for Dunbar, who transitioned from wide receiver to cornerback a week into training camp last summer. This year, he’ll be in the defensive backs’ meeting room from Day 1.

The Redskins’ roster at corner currently includes Bashaud Breeland, Chris Culliver, Will Blackmon, Dunbar and inexperienced players Jeremy Harris, Deshazor Everett, Dashaun Phillips and Al Louis-Jean. Culliver is recovering from major knee surgery and will miss the offseason, while Blackmon and Everett could get some time at safety. So, indeed, there’s a good chance Dunbar will get a ton of valuable reps over the next few months.  

“He’s obviously a very talented guy. He’s long and he’s disruptive and he can run,” Gruden said. “So I think he’s going to get better and better the more he learns the system. There’s certain things he still has to develop. He's got to know how to play the bunches and the clusters and all that stuff. And handle motions and communication, but for the most part I think he’s got the chance to be a really good one.”

As much confidence as Gruden has in Dunbar’s ability to keep improving, he still can’t quite wrap his mind around what the undrafted Florida product managed to do a year ago.

“For him to be thrust into action and play a significant amount of plays that he did, I think is unheard of,” Gruden said. “To never play corner in your life, now all of a sudden you’re playing on Monday Night Football covering Dez Bryant, I don’t think that’ll happen again. But we’re glad it worked out for him and he’s going to be a good one.”

MORE REDSKINS: McCloughan on Galette's recovery: 'It’s going to be interesting'

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As money skyrockets, don't expect Kirk Cousins to give discounts on open market


As money skyrockets, don't expect Kirk Cousins to give discounts on open market

Kirk Cousins repeatedly said his free agent decision will not be just about money. Be clear, however, that money will be a huge factor in this decision. 

After the Redskins traded with Kansas City to acquire Alex Smith before the Super Bowl, it became obvious Washington will move on from Cousins. Whether that means the quarterback simply walks away in free agency or the organization attempts a highly risky tag-and-trade scenario, regardless, Cousins will throw footballs for another franchise in 2018.

Cousins wants to choose where he will play via free agency, and might even file a grievance if the Redskins do deploy a third franchise tag to control his rights.

Assuming Cousins hits free agency, a new report out of New York suggests the Jets will pay "whatever it takes" to land the passer. That could even include a fully guaranteed contract, and will certainly get close to a $30 million a year price tag. 

A notion exists too that Cousins might take less to go to a winner, and many think that could be the Broncos. Denver won five games in 2017, same as the Jets, though the Broncos have a strong defense and have been getting particularly awful QB play. 

The important thing to remember for curious Redskins fans watching the Cousins saga unfold: Don't expect much, if any, discount. 

The quarterback himself made that clear. 

"There’s other quarterbacks that come after you and it would be almost a selfish move to hurt future quarterbacks who get in a position to have a contract," Cousins said last year on 106.7 the Fan.

The quotes came after the 2016 season but before the Redskins again used a franchise tag with Cousins for the 2017 season. Washington wanted to attempt a long-term deal with Cousins at that point, though the quarterback decided to not negotiate and instead play on the tag.

The point remains that Cousins, and his representatives, believe the quarterback has a duty to other players to maximize his earnings. 

"If you don’t take a deal that’s fair to you, then you’re also taking a deal that’s not fair to them and you’re setting them back as well. So there’s different reasons. You just do the best you can."

If he hits free agency, Cousins will likely sign the richest contract in NFL history. Those opportunities don't come around often, and the quarterback should take full advantage. 

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Need to Know: Could Ty Nsekhe be the Redskins' answer at left guard?

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Need to Know: Could Ty Nsekhe be the Redskins' answer at left guard?

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, February 19, 23 days before NFL free agency starts.

Monday musings

—One possible solution to the left guard spot is perhaps being overlooked. Ty Nsekhe played there some last year, starting the game in Dallas and playing there until Morgan Moses got injured, forcing him to move to right tackle. Nsekhe is slated to be a restricted free agent but his return is likely. In December I asked Jay Gruden if Nsekhe might move to guard in 2018. “I think Ty is a big man and a very good tackle, but in the offseason when we have more time, maybe we can feature him at some guard when we’ve got all our guys back,” he said. “Feature him some” doesn’t mean that they will make him a starter; perhaps they want him to be the top option to fill in at four of the five OL positions. But it’s something to keep an eye on if they don’t land a left guard solution in free agency or the draft.

—When I posted about Albert Breer’s report that Kirk Cousins would file a grievance if the Redskins put the franchise tag on him in an effort to trade him, I pulled up a copy of the CBA to see the language on which Cousins could base his case. I read through the Article 10, which deals with the franchise tag twice and I saw nothing of it. But Mike Florio found it in Article 4, the one that deals with player contracts. “A Club extending a Required Tender must, for so long as that Tender is extended, have a good faith intention to employ the player receiving the Tender at the Tender compensation level during the upcoming season.” Since the Redskins clearly have no intention of employing Cousins after the Alex Smith trade, this seems to be a fairly simple case. In reality, it never is.

—I tweeted this last week:

However, possible cap casualties from other teams are not included in that group. That won’t turn the pool of players who will become available to sign into a bunch of potential franchise changers. Still, there could be a number of players in whom the Redskins could be interested in like RB DeMarco Murray, WRs Emmanuel Sanders and Torrey Smith, edge rusher Elvis Dumervil, and DL Brandon Mebane. A plus to signing players who have been waived is that they don’t count in the formula that determines compensatory draft picks. The Redskins have never really paid attention to that in the past but with potential high comp picks at stake if they lose both Kirk Cousins and Bashaud Breeland, this could be a good year to start.

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) 10
—NFL Draft (4/26) 66
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 202

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