When free agency opens March 9, the Redskins will have some holes to fill on both side of the ball. In the coming days, Redskins Insider Tarik El-Bashir will examine the expected field of free agents, position-by-position, and evaluate who might be a fit in Washington. Today, we’re looking at cornerbacks.
Current situation: Bashaud Breeland took another leap forward last season and has proven himself capable of being a quality starter. After that, though, the Redskins’ depth chart at corner is riddled with question marks, such as: Can Chris Culliver return to form after another torn ACL? How much progress can wide-receiver-turned-corner Quinton Dunbar realistically make this offseason? Are 31-year-old vets Will Blackmon and Cary Williams viable options? What about untested youngsters Deshazor Everett , Jeremy Harris and Dashaun Phillips? As you can see, cornerback is a position that figures to command GM Scot McCloughan’s full attention in the coming weeks and months.
Best available: As is the case at many positions there’s no clear consensus, but Sean Smith (28, Chiefs) ranks near the top of many lists (after Josh Norman and Trumaine Johnson, both of whom got franchised). After missing the first three games due to suspension, Smith finished strong, recording 12 defended passes and a pair of interceptions to anchor Kansas City’s ninth ranked pass defense. The 6-foot-3, 215 eighth year pro carried a $7 million cap hit last season, however. And since he'll command even more next season, that probably puts him out of the Redskins’ price range given the team’s proximity to the salary cap ceiling and McCloughan’s preference to build through the draft.
Three more options: Janoris Jenkins (27, Rams) has racked up 48 passes defended, 10 interceptions and scored five touchdowns over the past four seasons. Like Smith, he’d be an ideal player to line up on the right, across from Breeland. But, like Smith, his cost will probably prove prohibitive. Casey Hayward (26, Packers) was one of the best slot corners in the game last season and ranks second on ProFootballFocus.com’s list of free agent corners. Meantime, Prince Amukamara (26, Giants) has been a consistent performer, and he’s familiar with secondary coach Perry Fewell. But the former first round pick has also struggled with injuries, missing three or more games in four of his five seasons.
Bottom line: McCloughan recently reiterated that he doesn't expect to be a big player in free agency and won't deviate from his build-through-the-draft strategy. But there's an exception to every rule. And given the Redskins’ need for an immediate infusion of talent and experience after surrendering 30 passing touchdowns in 2015 (only eight teams allowed more), and the uncertainty behind Breeland, it wouldn’t be a surprise if McCloughan pursues an established, younger corner on the open market. How much would he be willing to spend? That's unclear. But we know this much: he'll have options. Click here for Rotorworld.com’s list of the nearly four dozen corners expected to become available on Wednesday.
Previous free agent fits: