The Redskins have more players with healthy bank accounts at OTAs this week than they did at this time in 2015.
Homegrown stars Ryan Kerrigan and Trent Williams received big-money contract extensions last summer. Jordan Reed, a 2013 third-round pick, got his lucrative extension a few weeks ago. Kirk Cousins will have the biggest weekly paychecks on the team on the team with his $19.95 million franchise tag salary representing a massive increase from his 2015 salary of around $660,000. And Josh Norman cashed in when he was unexpectedly made a free agent in late April and signed with Washington for five years and $75 million.
But none of the players with newly found wealth carried their fat wallets onto the field with them on Wednesday, when the team’s OTA practice was open to the media. Kerrigan hustled through drills knocking down tackling dummies like he was an undrafted free agent trying to make an impression. Norman competed hard during team drills and engaged in some friendly trash talking with Cousins. The quarterback obviously had put a lot of preparation work in for the OTA as he was sharp and in control. Reed went into a full dive in an attempt to catch a slightly overthrown Cousins pass down the sideline.
It’s no coincidence that the team’s highest-paid players are also among the hardest workers at Redskins Park. Such character has been an emphasis of Scot McCloughan, now in his second year in charge of personnel.
Other players on the team notice the pattern.
“I think they’ve done a good job of getting the right kind of guys around to build on the team,” said veteran cornerback DeAngelo Hall after an OTA practice on Wednesday. “It’s about winning, it’s about team first. You’ve got Josh, J Reed, Kirk, a lot of these guys are getting paid. You don’t see the mindset changing. You see Kirk, Josh working hard, J Reed working hard and that’s what it has to be.
“Just because you’ve got money, they can take it from you the next day. You keep grinding, keep your foot on the throat. These guys come out here ready to work every day.”
McCloughan’s hope is that rewarding players who work hard will start a cycle, with young players coming in and seeing the guys who do things the right way getting rewarded. They seem to be off to a promising start with the first part of the cycle, we will see if the payoff comes down the line.