With a new general manager in charge, new faces throughout the lineup as well as new assistant coaches bringing new ideas to the table, the Redskins are a team in transition. Between now and the start of training camp, CSNWashington.com reporters Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will examine the top questions facing Jay Gruden and Co. as they prepare for the season.
What will the cornerback depth chart look like?
Like many areas of the team, the Redskins’ cornerback group is in a state of flux. Chris Culliver came in as a free agent. DeAngelo Hall missed 13 games last year and the entire offseason program while rehabbing from a torn Achilles. David Amerson and Bashaud Breeland, the starters after Hall went out, are back. The coaches seem to be high on Tevin Mitchel, a sixth-round rookie. How will the depth chart shake out when the season gets underway?
Tandler: Take out a Sharpie and put Culliver at the top of the depth chart. He might follow the other team’s top receiver from side to side. Then put the lid back on the Sharpie and get out a dry erase marker for the rest of this.
I think that many will put Breeland down as the second starter without even giving it much thought. But I think that he could be pushed by Amerson, who suffered a horrible sophomore slump last year. The word is that he is taking the game more seriously this year and if he can match Breeland’s off-field work and study habits, his physical ability could earn him a starting job. In any case, if Amerson is indeed focused on football it’s hard to see him as anything worse than the third CB. He could come in and play the outside in nickel situations and have Breeland move in to cover the slot.
This brings up the question of Hall’s status. He is due a $4 million salary this year. It makes no economic sense to pay your fourth cornerback that much. They already made one adjustment to his contract in the spring, converting $1 million in guaranteed money to regular salary payable only if he makes the 53-man roster. That is not a move they would have made if he was a roster lock. Unless Hall surprises and can push past Breeland or Amerson on the depth chart he could be faced with a choice of taking a pay cut or getting let go.
Mitchel likely sticks around but he will learn on the scout team and on special teams. If Hall is not around, look out for Trey Wolfe, who spent some time on the practice squad last year. His ability to make spectacular, one-handed interceptions will earn him a good look from Perry Fewell and Joe Barry.
El-Bashir: Can’t really argue with anything Tandler wrote. Culliver will be the Redskins’ No. 1 corner, and everything after that is subject to change.
My focus in training camp will be on Amerson and Hall. There’s optimism at Redskins Park that Amerson has rededicated himself after a difficult sophomore season and can still blossom into the player they hoped he’d be. Can Amerson challenge Breeland? He's got the talent, but he’s got a lot of ground to make up. Throughout the offseason, Amerson worked as the No. 3 cornerback behind Culliver and Breeland. So that’s going to be his starting point when camp opens in Richmond.
I’m also really curious about Hall. As Tandler said, he agreed to a contract restructuring in February that removed a $1 million guarantee. That’s a sign that GM Scot McCloughan isn’t sure if the 31-year-old will successfully rebound from a twice-torn Achilles. And, from the sounds of it, there’s a chance Hall won’t be full-go at the start of training camp. That, obviously, wouldn’t be ideal.
Assuming Hall does make the cut, that presumably would leave one roster spot available. Right now, I’ve got to imagine it goes to Mitchel, a rookie who showed steady progress this offseason but still is expected to cut his teeth on special teams. If Hall doesn’t make the cut, that could open the door for Trey Wolfe, a camp hopeful with an interesting story, and/or Justin Rogers, who was used sparingly in three games last season.
Previously on Redskins offseason Q&A:
- Who will start at strong safety?
- Who will return punts and kickoffs?
- Who will be the third down back?
- Which rookie will have the most impact?
- How will the carries be divvied up?
- What will the QB depth chart look like?
- Who will the third running back be?
- Which free agent will have the most impact?
- Which new assistant coach will have the biggest impact?
- What team is the biggest threat to win the NFC East?
- Will Jason Hatcher live up to his contract?
- Who will be the training camp phenom?