Quick Links

Redskins agree to terms with All-Pro CB Josh Norman

joshnormanfire.png

Redskins agree to terms with All-Pro CB Josh Norman

The Redskins signed former Panthers cornerback Josh Norman on Friday, making a bold—and costly—move designed to shore up a pass defense that ranked 25th in 2015. The move was reported by multiple media sources, including Rand Getlin and Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

CSNmidatlantic.com has confirmed the news.

Norman instantly becomes Washington’s best player on defense, having earned All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors last season while playing for the Super Bowl runners up. And, although precise figures have yet to emerge, the 28-year-old is expected to become the Redskins’ highest paid player on defense and the team’s second highest paid player behind quarterback Kirk Cousins, who will earn almost $20 million this season.

Norman is a feisty player known for his swashbuckling confidence. He's also known for backing up his brash talk with big plays and steady production. Last season, he notched career highs in passes defended (18), interceptions (4) and forced fumbles (3). His two interceptions returned for a touchdown were tied for the most in the NFL.

ProFootballFocus.com rated Norman, a 2012 fifth round pick who had spent his entire career in Carolina, as the sixth best cornerback in football a year ago.

Although Norman is changing teams, the learning curve is not expected to be very steep. He played a lot of zone coverage in Carolina. The Redskins play a lot of zone under defensive coordinator Joe Barry.

The Redskins could put Norman opposite Bashaud Breeland, giving the Redskins a top-tier veteran on one side of the field and an emerging star on the other. Assuming Chris Culliver returns to form after suffering a torn ACL in November, that could give the Redskins a trio of physical, productive and proven corners on the backend.   

For all the above reasons, the addition of Norman makes a lot of sense for a Redskins’ team that went 9-7 last season and is attempting to take the next step. But the signing doesn’t come without a couple of questions. For one, can Norman achieve the same level of play with different players around him and different coaches asking different things of him? And two, why did a quality team allow an All-Pro corner to walk out the door without any compensation?  

We don’t have the answers to either of those questions. But we know this much: if Norman can reproduce the season he had last year, he’ll be worth the price of admission…and then some.

Think about this Redskins fans: Norman will get to face his former team in Week 15 at FedEx Field, on Monday Night Football nonetheless. You’ll also get to see him match up against Odell Beckham Jr. and Dez Bryant two times each season.

MORE REDSKINS: Pursuit of Josh Norman looks a lot like chase for DeSean Jackson

Quick Links

Poll: How optimistic are you about the 2017 Redskins

Poll: How optimistic are you about the 2017 Redskins

Jay Gruden set out to dispell the "doom and gloom" that has overtaken many Redskins fans this offseason when he talked to the media earlier this week. To what extent do you agree with the coach that the feeling should be one of optimism and excitement? 

As always, hit the poll and then either reply on Twitter to talk about your answer or come back here and hit the comments. 

Quick Links

Jay Gruden loves Rob Kelley, but would also love drafting a 'special' RB

Jay Gruden loves Rob Kelley, but would also love drafting a 'special' RB

Redskins coach Jay Gruden has a very high opinion of running back Rob Kelley. He surprised many by making the 53-man roster as an undrafted rookie last year and when starter Matt Jones faltered, Kelley took over as the starter for the last nine games.

“Oh, man, I love Rob Kelley,” Gruden told reporters earlier this week at the NFL meetings in Phoenix.

“I thought he played great. You throw a rookie free agent into the fire like that and see him play and compete. Not one time did I feel like it was too big for him. Not once. That’s a hell of a thing to say for a kid out of Tulane who only had a couple of carries his senior year. He came right in, he competes on every play.”

Actually, Kelley had 65 carries as a senior at Tulane, for 232 yards and one touchdown.

But Gruden’s overall point about Kelley being a little-used back in college. In four years with the Green Wave he never had as many as 100 carries in a single season.

RELATED: UPDATED NFL MOCK DRAFT 6.0

Kelley got 168 carries in the NFL last year, gaining 704 yards. He scored six touchdowns, the same number that he scored in 49 games at Tulane.

Gruden was not done singing Kelley’s praises.

“He had some of the greatest two-yard runs I’ve seen,” the coach continued.

“He gets back to the line of scrimmage, he keeps his feet moving, he protects the ball. He’s going to get better in pass protection. Catching the ball, he did a nice job. He dropped a couple here and there but for the most part he catches the ball. I really think the vision he has he’ll be more patient as a runner this year. I think he’s going to be a good back, I really do.

“A lot of people think we need a great running back. I think Rob is a great running back, I really do.”

While that certainly is a ringing endorsement, Gruden wouldn’t shy away upgrading the position in the draft.

“There are some special players in this draft, if they’re available they’d be hard to pass up, quite frankly,” Gruden said moments after lauding Kelley.

MORE REDSKINS: JAY GRUDEN BULLISH ON 2017 REDSKINS

Two of the running back considered “special” who may be available when the Redskins make their pick in the first round are Dalvin Cook of Florida State and Christian McCaffrey of Stanford. In a separate interview with JP Finlay of CSN, Gruden talked about those two backs.

 “That’s the thing about those two guys, they can move around,” said Gruden. “They’re not just lining up in the I formation running the power play. They can line up outside at different spots, play receiver, catch the ball out of the backfield and they can also run it between the tackles. They’re not just one dimensional players, they’re very exciting.”

So to sum up the coach’s thought process here, Gruden thinks that Kelley is a “great” running back but the team would find it tough to pass on “special” and “exciting” alternatives. It doesn’t sound to me like Kelley should get too comfortable with the idea of being the lead dog at running back. And those Redskins fans who have earmarked that first-round draft pick for defense may end up being very disappointed.   

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.