On Wednesday, the Redskins made a few obvious roster moves – releasing Zach Brown and Stacy McGee – that cleared up a nice chunk of cap space.
Moving forward in free agency, the team still can make a couple of other similar transactions – names like Vernon Davis and Mason Foster come to mind – that would free up additional cash.
However, some fans are wondering if a surprise cut is coming, one that would involve a major player on the roster and really impact Washington’s budget for bringing in new talent. And the player mentioned most often for this type of decision is Josh Norman.
But is getting rid of Norman to save $8.5 million the most logical option for the Redskins? Perhaps not.
Here are three reasons why dropping the corner isn’t the best idea.
1) His contract can work this year
Between Norman and Landon Collins, the ‘Skins have an unusually high amount of cash allocated to the secondary. Still, that situation can function for 2019.
On the Redskins Talk podcast Wednesday, NFL financial expert J.I. Halsell explained that Collins’ $4 million cap hit means the Burgundy and Gold can handle both he and No. 24 together.
According to Halsell, the franchise doesn’t really have to make a call on Norman until 2020, when he’ll still be expensive, and Collins’ price jumps more than $10 million. In 2019, though, the arrangement is tenable, thanks largely to how cheap the defense’s front seven is.
2) He’s a playmaker and they don’t have many
Norman hasn’t fully thrived in D.C. in his three years since popping as a Panther, but he’s been pretty effective in two of his three seasons and is coming off what looks like his best campaign in Washington.
In 2018, the DB picked off three passes, forced three fumbles, and scooped up a loose ball, too. Those are valuable, game-altering plays for a unit that doesn’t contain many guys beyond him, and hopefully now Collins, producing those kinds of highlights.
While he’s being paid to be a top-level corner and hasn’t matched that compensation as of yet, he’s been a positive influence on the defense. Plus, who knows? Maybe new secondary coach Ray Horton can unlock more from the veteran.
3) Who would fill his spot?
The Redskins are already inexperienced on the outside with Norman. Without him? They’d be insanely young.
Quinton Dunbar is the second-most proven player on the depth chart, and he’s a once-converted wideout coming off a mysterious shin injury. After him is third-year pro Fabian Moreau and then three CBs who will all be entering their second go-round in the NFL.
Would it be nice to have $8.5 million more to use to address left guard or receiver? Absolutely. But is that money worth draining an already thin spot? Not really.
The best path for the Redskins is to keep Norman for 2019, see how he fits alongside his new All-Pro safety and then reevaluate next March. Cutting Norman now would likely do much more harm to the organization than good.
Now, trading him is another story, because at least they could justify getting rid of his skills to bring in another useful commodity. Yet an outright release would be a questionable end to his tenure here.