DeAngelo Hall expects Sundays game against the undefeated Falcons to be the stiffest challenge the Redskins defense has encountered in 2012.Its also a prime opportunity for the veteran cornerback to bounce back from an uneven performance against the Buccaneers.Definitely, he said, this is the biggest test we will have faced so far this season.Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan leads the league in passer rating (112.1) and is second in passing touchdowns (11). Wide receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones each have three touchdown receptions, as does tight end Tony Gonzalez. And then theres 247-pound running back Michael Turner, whos 15thin rushing yards with 257.Combined, they form a formidable offense thats scoring 31 points per game (3rd).Its going to take all of us, Hall said. Their offense is rolling. Theyre clicking. At certain points in the season, it happens like that, where everything goes right.It will be our offense being to sustain drives and our pass rush being able to get in Ryans face, Hall added. It will be us in the back being able to cover. Its the linebackers dropping into zone or playing man if they have to. Its not one guy shutting someone down.That all said, Hall knows the spotlight will be on himself and fellow cornerback Josh Wilson. Not only because of big-play ability that White, Jones and Gonzalez possess, but also because both got burned by big plays on Tampa Bay scoring drives Sunday as the Bucs rallied from a 15-point deficit. You can play 60 perfect snaps, then one bad judge of a ball and the sky is falling down, Hall said. Its part of it. Wilson gave up a play, hey, go out there and make a play. I gave up a play, hey, got to go out there and make a play now. Luckily, we were able to pull the game and so it didnt feel as bad coming out with the win. You can always critique things a little easier when you win.The consensus in the Redskins locker room is that the defense took a small step forward in Tampa. But there's clearly still much room for improvement from a unit that's yielded 11 passing touchdowns (32nd), 8.8 yards per pass attempt (30th) and 30.8 points per game (27th).We have to be better, Hall said. We all know that.
It still seems like a long-shot the Redskins trade Kirk Cousins, but if there is one persistent rumor, it's that the San Francisco 49ers want the Washington passer. The story is too familiar at this point: New Niners coach Kyle Shanahan was in D.C. when Cousins was drafted and wants the quarterback to come run his offense in San Francisco. With the second overall pick, the 49ers have a tremendous asset they can dangle in trade talks.
Whether or not any of this rumor is true, it sure makes for engrossing speculation. With the NFL Draft Combine next week in Indianapolis, NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah said he wouldn't be shocked to see the trade go down.
That's the backdrop. Beyond the debate of the merits of trading an established QB like Cousins, which is a very serious debate, there's also the notion of what player the 'Skins would select with the second overall pick.
MORE REDSKINS: 2017 top heavy Cap could be a problem
It's worth examining the impact players available to Washington with the second selection in the 2017 NFL Draft, and the options are varied, including perhaps a new QB. Check it out.
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It seems almost inevitable that the Redskins will put the franchise tag on Kirk Cousins between now and the March 1 deadline. This will set the Redskins up to have a very top heavy salary cap structure.
As the website Spotrac noted yesterday, if the Redskins do tag Cousins, giving him a cap hit of $24.9 million, he, Josh Norman ($20 million cap number) and Trent Williams ($15.1 million) will account for a total of $59 million against the cap or 35 percent of the estimated $168 million cap for the 2017 season.
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That’s a lot of money to go to 5.6 percent of the players on the roster. To compare, the top three players on the Cowboys’ cap account for 34.2 percent of the cap. The top three with the Giants take up 29.7 percent and in Philadelphia it’s 17.8 percent. In fact, a check around the league shows that none of the 2016 AFC or NFC playoff teams has a higher percentage of their cap expended on its top three than the Redskins have on theirs.
This caused some consternation among Redskins fans and while it’s something to keep an eye on it does not present a big issue for the team at this time.
For one thing, the Redskins still have a good amount of cap room. If you assume the Cousins tag, they still will have about $40 million in cap space with the ability to create perhaps $10 million more by releasing some veterans and/or redoing some contracts.
Also, it’s a temporary situation. Let’s say that the Redskins hang on to Cousins with a long-term deal and he has a $22 million cap number in 2018. If that the case then Cousins, Norman ($17 million), and Williams ($13.9 million) would still be the top three players on the cap number list and they would total $52 million. On a cap that is projected to be $178 million that would be 29.2 percent of the total. That’s still on the high side but certainly manageable.
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And if you are going to have three players taking up a high percentage of the cap they should be your quarterback, left tackle, and No. 1 cornerback. Those, along with an edge rusher, are the most important players on the team and it’s appropriate to have them among you highest-paid players.
Still, the Redskins must be careful. Signing another free agent with a cap hit like Norman’s is out of the question. And as key contributors like Morgan Moses, Trent Murphy, Jamison Crowder, and Brandon Scherff become eligible for contract extensions or for free agency over the next couple of years, the organization needs to be sure that there is room to retain their own players when the time comes.