Having a significant change to your roster one week out from the NFL draft will almost always impact your big board as your team needs and personnel plans adapt to the shift in dynamic.
Source: Free agent CB Josh Norman has a visit to the #Redskins tomorrow. They get first crack
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 21, 2016
With reports suggesting that the Washington Redskins may be on the precipice of signing Cornerback Josh Norman to a blockbuster contract, the term “significant change” fails to adequately summise the ramifications that such a signing would have on General Manager Scot McCloughan’s approach to the draft. Therefore, it’s only fitting that we take this opportunity to examine what the ripple effects of such a monumental signing would be.
Cap casualties and the draft
First and perhaps most importantly, the substantial pay day that would be involved in bringing Norman to the Redskins cannot be ignored. Depending on what pre-draft roster amendments are made in order to facilitate the necessary cap space to sign Josh Norman, the flow-on effects to day one of the NFL draft could be huge.
Washington has approximately $12 million in salary cap space at the time of writing. The Wide Receiver trio of DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon and Andre Roberts have a combined 2016 salary cap number of almost $20 million, and it’s clear that this combination of players does not represent the future moving forward to the Redskins. It seems likely that the Redskins will cut Andre Roberts and free up $4 million, but don’t be surprised if the Redskins also give strong consideration to cutting Pierre Garcon and looking to the first round of the draft to replace him.
At least a few of the 2016 receiving group of players such as Laquon Treadwell, Josh Doctson, Will Fuller and Corey Coleman are likely to be available when the Redskins find themselves on the clock, and releasing Garcon and replacing him with a young rookie weapon on a lower contract would certainly go a long way towards building the Redskins roster and give Redskins salary cap guru Eric Shaffer the necessary financial flexibility to bring in Josh Norman without leaving the salary cap hamstrung.
Focus on the defense
If the Redskins don’t release or restructure Garcon or Jackson, then it is likely that they would need to make changes on the defensive side of the ball in order to fit Josh Norman under the salary cap. The Redskins can free up $12 million in 2016 by releasing Chris Culliver ($8 million) and Perry Riley ($4 million). Combine that with the aforementioned likely release of Andre Roberts and you have $28 million in cap space for the 2016 season with which you can use on Josh Norman.
Releasing Culliver and Riley has impacts though. Obviously releasing Culliver to bring in Josh Norman means that the Cornerback corps are solidified nicely, but it puts a focus on the entire secondary as a unit. DeAngelo Hall, Kyshoen Jarrett and Duke Ihenacho form the foundation of the Safety unit at present, and that is a combination of names that is not without their own reasons for concern. Hall is 32 going on 33 years of age, and although he provides veteran leadership and a natural ability, he’s not a natural Safety. Jarrett is recovering from an injury that involves nerve damage, and his health going into the 2016 season is an area of huge concern for the Redskins. Ihenacho, who has flashed strong ability that is too often under-rated, hasn’t demonstrated the the ability to stay healthy reliably.
There are two Safeties in the 2016 draft who have been given first round grades by scouts; Karl Joseph from West Virginia and Keanu Neal from Florida.
Neither of these two young prospects are without their own set of issues; Joseph is undersized for his position at 5’10 and suffered a season ending knee injury during non-contact practice drills in 2015, and Neal is criticized for going for the ‘knock out blow’ too often, leading to missed tackles.
Regardless, having Josh Norman and Bashaud Breeland as your main Cornerbacks in a Cover 3 zone base scheme up front would be the absolute perfect environment for a rookie Safety to develop within, as the pressure that comes with blown assignments and Wide Receivers blowing past their defenders would be a rare issue.
In short, the likelihood of the Redskins using their first round pick on a Safety seems to only increase with the addition of Josh Norman on to the roster.
However you look at it, the addition of Josh Norman to the Redskins roster likely dramatically reshapes the big board currently sitting on Scot McCloughan’s office wall, but as the popular saying on Redskins Twitter goes; In Scot we Trust.
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