When Josh Wilson signed with the Redskins late last July, the cornerback had roughly two weeks to familiarize himself with teams defensive scheme before the preseason opener.Wilson eventually got up to speed, but it took weeks, if not months, before he was completely comfortable starting on the right side opposite DeAngelo Hall.Familiarity, though, wont be an issue in 2012 and thats the primary reason the DeMatha and University of Maryland product expects to have a breakout season.Its going to be night and day, Wilson said Thursday. Being able have an offseason, a year under my belt in this scheme, Im going to be able to have an understanding, make calls for myself. I had to learn on the fly last season, so it was definitely tough.In 16 games, Wilson recorded 62 tackles (48 solo), two interceptions and defended 15 passes. Both of the 27-year-olds interceptions came in December as he spent less time focused on his responsibilities within defensive coordinator Jim Hasletts scheme and more time reading the opposing offense.I wont be reacting and figuring out what I have to do first and then figuring out how the offense is trying to attack me, Wilson said. Now, I come out of the huddle knowing where the weaknesses are, where my strength is, where my help is, and what I need to protect myself. By the time the offense gets to the line, Im already trying to figure out what theyre trying to do.Coach Mike Shanahan said hes noticed Wilsons growing confidence.It doesnt matter what type of formation, Shanahan said. You dont have to think. You can just react, and he has been able to do that.Wilson expects big things from himself. But he also knows that his success is inextricably linked to the play outside linebackers Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan and, more specifically, their ability to harass opposing quarterbacks.Its everything, Wilson said. When you have a good pass rush thats coming every down, with Rak and and Ryan coming off that edge, I know that quarterback has to get the ball out of his hand. He cant double-pump it or give me a triple move. If he does that, its a sack.Thats very comforting for a defensive back, he added. Because if I can hold my guy for five or six seconds, its over, that play is dead.Away from the field, Wilsons comfort level has also increased. Not only is he near his old stomping grounds, hes playing in the same city in consecutive years for the first time since suiting up for the Seahawks from 2007 - 2009. He played one season for the Ravens before joining the Redskins, the team he grew up cheering in the suburbs of Washington.Its definitely a little more comfortable, Wilson said before making a good-natured crack about the expense of purchasing tickets for games at FedEx Field. But it costs a lot on game day.Seriously, though, Wilson called it a blessing to be surrounded by friends and family on a daily basis. But, he quickly added, its almost as comforting to look at a familiar playbook each day.It says the same thing it said last year, he said with a grin.
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.