Ben Standig

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Josh Norman's status for the Redskins in 2019 comes down to dollars and sense

Josh Norman's status for the Redskins in 2019 comes down to dollars and sense

Josh Norman’s former defensive coordinator will not join his former pupil in Washington. What’s left to wonder is whether the cornerback stays with the Redskins for the 2019 season.

On the surface, that premise seems flawed. Why ponder releasing the team's best cornerback especially with several uncertain slots elsewhere on defense including safety? 

Follow the money. 

Norman, 31, is now three years into the five-year, $75 million contract he signed in 2016. His salary ate up huge chunks of the team’s salary cap in each of those three years. 

Norman accounts for a mere $9 million in dead cap space over the final two seasons. That includes six million in 2019, but the number reaches $14.5 million if he remains on the roster. 

For a team with $16.6 million in total salary cap space –24th in the league according to Spotrac – finding ways to free up more room becomes a primary topic this offseason.

What remains at corner should Norman exit explains why he may and likely should stay. 

Quinton Dunbar proved viable in his first season in the starting lineup, though the former wide receiver missed nine games with leg injuries and finished the year on injured reserve. 

Beyond Norman and Dunbar, Washington’s corner depth chart includes four players who enter 2019 with a combined five years of NFL experience. 

Fabian Moreau, a 2017 third-round pick, received valuable playing time in the slot. Moving him outside creates a need inside.

Greg Stroman, one of two seventh-round selections last season, played more than anticipated during his rookie season because of Dunbar’s injuries. 

Same with another rookie, undrafted free agent Danny Johnson. Both showed positive traits, but likely not enough for the coaching staff to believe they could enter the starting lineup Week 1. 

Adonis Alexander, added in last year’s supplemental draft, mostly had a redshirt rookie season. 

Maybe there’s a scenario where the Redskins believe in this unit’s upside and think they could cobble together a viable group with a basic free agent addition joining the mix. That seems like a dicey proposition at the moment.

The real concerns in the secondary exist at safety. Washington may need two new starters. The team released another talkative defensive back, D.J. Swearinger before Week 17. The other starter, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, is a free agent. 

Second-year safety Montae Nicholson went to the bench after the Redskins acquired Clinton-Dix from the Packers during the season. Nicholson’s year ended on the reserve/non-football injury list following his December arrest for assault and battery, and being drunk in public. 

Swearinger’s release added to a lengthy list of projected team needs, including inside linebacker, guard, wide receiver, edge pass rusher and likely quarterback depending on Alex Smith’s recovery. 

Cutting Norman puts cornerback on the list.

Though he has not received Pro Bowl honors since signing with Washington or performed at the high level achieved during his final season with Carolina, Norman delivered a solid 2018 campaign. He believes there’s more he can do on the field particularly rushing the quarterback in select moments. Perhaps a rumored defensive coordinator change unlocks more. 

Whether that coaching switch occurs or not, swapping Norman for salary cap space is among the considerations this off-season. On the surface, such a move causes more uncertainty for a defense already appearing needy in some key spots. 

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That time Antonio Brown and Kyler Murray practiced together

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That time Antonio Brown and Kyler Murray practiced together

Thanks to Antonio Brown, we have the hopes and dreams of a splashy off-season for the Washington Redskins in one tidy four-second video.

Brown, the NFL’s best receiver, is angling for a trade out of Pittsburgh.

Kyler Murray is the reigning Heisman Trophy quarterback and a projected 2019 first round pick.

During the NFC Championship game, the Steelers wide receiver tweeted out a clip of him hauling in a deep pass from the University of Oklahoma product. Yes, that’s going to draw some eyeballs, perhaps especially from fans of a team with quarterback uncertainty and lacking offensive playmakers.

Another OU standout, wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown”, joined his cousin Antonio and Murray for the workout. This isn’t the first time all three shared a field.

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The best rolled thru today, appreciate you @ab 📞

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Marquise Brown, a true speed threat, could become the first wide receiver selected in the 2019 draft.

There’s no way for the Redskins to land all three. Even two seems highly unlikely considering the two prospects are projected first-round selections and acquiring Brown would cost a No. 1 and plenty more. It’s still cool to dream. Considering the quarterback concerns with Alex Smith, Jamison Crowder entering free agency and the need for more pieces regardless, even landing one of them would work.

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If All-Star selections were based on play alone, Bradley Beal would be a starter

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If All-Star selections were based on play alone, Bradley Beal would be a starter

Bradley Beal’s stellar play ended the debate over whether the Washington Wizards leading scorer deserved a second consecutive All-Star berth – and started a new one: Should he start in the game?

Now, based on the latest batch of fan results, Beal will not in fact start. Fans account for 50 percent of the vote with current players and Beal ranked 10th among Eastern Conference guards. Current players and selected media members each receive 25 percent of the vote. Beal’s case is not so overwhelming that those factions would stuff the ballot box on his behalf.

Those future results remain fascinating regardless.

Beal’s performance throughout the season and particularly since John Wall went out with season-ending surgery to repair bone spurs in his left foot pushed him into the starter conversation.

Voting for the 2019 NBA All-Star Game, set for Feb. 17 in Charlotte, concludes Monday. Televised announcements for the starters (Thursday) and reserves (Jan. 31) come later this month followed by the draft on Feb. 7.

Boston’s Kyrie Irving is the runaway leader among the East guards in the fan vote followed by Dwyane Wade (Miami), Kemba Walker (Charlotte), Ben Simmons (Philadelphia), Victor Oladipo (Indiana) and Kyle Lowry (Toronto).

Unless Wade’s career achievement candidacy gains momentum among players and the media, the future Hall of Fame is not in the running for the other starting guard spot. The other five including Beal have the numbers.

Lowry, named a starter in 2015 and 2016, is second in the NBA with 9.4 assists, but this is not the steadiest of seasons for Lowry (31.1 percent on 3-pointers).

Oladipo continues his rocket ride toward the top of the NBA’s best guards, but the two-way threat missed 11 games for 30-15 Pacers.

That leaves Beal, Simmons, and Walker, who will represent the hosting team in the big event. Walker ticks ahead of Beal in scoring as the Hornets do the Wizards in the NBA standings. Comparing on-off numbers gives Washington’s leading man the edge.

The lengthy Simmons, one of the league’s most unique players, veers close to averaging a triple-double. There is also the weirdness of the 6-foot-10 point-forward attempting literally zero 3-point attempts.

Beal’s numbers, strong throughout the season outside of a 3-point shooting dip, zoomed upward after Washington lost Wall in late December. Overall he joins James Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo as the only players averaging at least 24 points, 5.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists, and 1.4 steals. The Wizards, in the midst of their best collective work this season, are feeding off Beal’s vibe and all-court game.

Again, the lack of interest from the fans – surely in part of Washington’s struggles this season -- dooms Beal’s starter hope. The recognition from the players and media members might offer a different take on a player performing as well as almost any guard in the league.

That remains true whether Beal starts or not. He will not, but there is a strong argument that he should.

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