Answer: An association you never expected on Washington Redskins’ exit interview day
Question: Who are Josh Norman and Alex Trebek?
The morning after the regular season concludes for non-playoff teams is primarily about two things: Packing and saying goodbye. The level of finality in both cases isn’t always precise. That’s true even for players still under contract. Life in the NFL rarely offers guarantees. Roster turnover is inevitable.
“It's like watching Jeopardy,” Norman said Monday, invoking the long-running television quiz when asked about watching players come and go during his three seasons with the Redskins.
The arbitrary answer hung in the air initially without further explanation. A reporter asked for clarification. Norman, just like contestants on the game show hosted by Trebek, answered in the form of a question.
“You watch Jeopardy?” Norman responded.
Sometimes, the reporter said.
“When you watch it, do you see the same people?”
The answer: Different contestants.
“OK, so…,” Norman concluded, his voice trailing off.
Usually asking Norman about possible roster changes means receiving an outsider’s perspective. That’s perhaps different the day after he concluded the third season with Washington. When it comes to an uncertain future, Norman isn’t alone.
Answer: Familiar names are in jeopardy of not returning to the Redskins locker room next season
Question: Who are Josh Norman, Zach Brown, Adrian Peterson, Jamison Crowder, Preston Smith, Robert Kelley?
“The last day is always a day,” Brown said. “Sometimes you might not see half these guys again. Most of us might be going to a new team, might not. It’s just been crazy. You never know what might happen.”
Brown spent much of what might be his final time in the locker room searching for packing assistance.
“I need a bag!” the inside linebacker yelled to nobody in particular.
Brown, who lost his starting job in Week 14, and Norman are part of the subset of players under contract the organization might decline to bring back. Factors being salary cap, performance, and chemistry considerations.
For free agents like Crowder, Smith, and Kelley, the situation is more direct, yet still unsettling.
“It’s a little weird,” Crowder said. Washington's starting slot receiver missed seven games with an ankle injury and the Redskins have a potential replacement on the roster in Trey Quinn. “Just waiting to see what happens.”
The offense overcame the loss of several running back injuries thanks to Peterson’s remarkable rebirth after he signed with Washington during the preseason. With Derrius Guice returning from a torn ACL, there might not be room for the 34-year-old Peterson next season.
Kelley is further down the running back depth chart. Washington’s leading rusher in 2016 only played two games in 2018 before landing on injured reserve with a toe injury.
“Do they think you’re in position to help this team next year or do they want to change the profile of the team? They’re all types of stuff that plays a part,” Kelley said of any future interest from Washington.
As for packing, the New Orleans native primarily focused on personal effects and a single pair of soft cleats for workouts. “If they decide to split ways I guess they’ll send the stuff to you,” Kelley said.
A member of the PR staff eventually handed Brown a large trash bag. “My guy!” the linebacker exclaimed.
Norman required at least two full-sized cardboard boxes. He and other high-profile players have two locker stalls. More space means more stuff including football gear, grooming supplies, jerseys from opposing players and, in the case of Norman, a two-foot-tall Batman figurine.
Norman, 31 went from a Super Bowl team in Carolina to three postseason-less seasons in Washington. He told reporters Monday that he’d retire if he won a championship.
“If that happens you can kiss my [expletive] goodbye,” Norman said. “I’m out.”
It’s unclear whether the ring-chasing chance next season comes with the Redskins or another team. Washington could save $8.5 million against the salary cap next season and $12.5 in 2020 by releasing their top cornerback this offseason.
“Whenever they decide to have a meeting, we'll see,” Norman said about his future. “And we'll go from there. Like I said, contract, I'm here. Five years. Like I said, I think it's one of my best seasons yet, and we don't grow on trees. So we'll see what happens.”
The Redskins are only beginning their offseason. Eventually, the organization will form plans and execute. Until then several players remain in various forms of limbo. What and how much they packed on exit interview day offers some insight into the perception of their roster jeopardy. For Norman, the answer lies with whether Batman makes it inside one of those boxes.
“He (typically) stays here,” Norman said, “but he may go with me this time.”
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