With it becoming quite clear that CB Carlos Rogers has played his game for Washington, the Redskins need to seek out a starting caliber corner on the free agent market. While much of the attention will be focused on the big names, Nnamdi Asomugha, Johnathan Joseph, and Antonio Cromartie, Wilson should be Washington's top target.
There is little doubt that Asomugha, Joseph and Cromartie are very talented corners and among the best in the game (with Asomugha perhaps the very best), but that talent and perception comes with a price. Joseph could be looking at a low 8 figure yearly salary, and I think he will pretty easily get it. Cromartie, might not make as much as Joseph (though it could be close), but he will likely average $8.5-9.5 million a year. Asomugha though will blow them all away as he should get at least $15 million a year.
Now let's be honest the Redskins could afford those salaries if they really wanted to, but by doing so it would mean there would be less money for other positions. And while the Redskins could just back load the contracts as they have in the past, that will mean they will have a salary cap crisis when the rebuilding is done, potentially making it harder to resign our own players like Orakpo and Hankerson. If anything the Redskins should look to front load contracts, guaranteeing a lot of upfront money so as to entice the player, and free up extra cap room down the line.
That leaves the Redskins looking at the 2nd tier of corners, and of that group Josh Wilson is the best of the bunch. He might not have the numbers of some of the more elite corners, but he has showed himself more than capable of starting in this league.
Why Josh Wilson:
There are potentially quite a few 2nd tier starting corners, but I feel that Wilson makes the most sense. He is a great combination of cover and playmaking ability. Wilson allowed just 46.9% of passes to be complete, while adding 3 interceptions. Wilson in 4 years (54 games) Wilson has 9 interceptions including 4 returned for touchdowns, Carlos Rogers by comparison has just 8 interceptions and only 1 returned for a TD (in 78 games).
Wilson hasn't always dominated though, and he for his first couple of years looked to be just an average cornerback in Seattle. He came to Baltimore in an offseason trade and started out the season as their nickel back. By the 2nd half of the season though, Wilson not only took over a starting role, but he was arguably Baltimore's most productive CB down the stretch.
The biggest knock on Wilson is the fact that he is under 5'10", and while his height is an issue, Wilson makes up for it with his exceptional speed and work ethic. Wilson has the speed to run with anyone (hint hint DeSean Jackson), and closes on the ball very well. He is also the son of a former NFL player, Tim Wilson (FB Houston Oilers) so he does have some pedigree as well. Wilson grew up in Maryland, and stared at the University of Maryland as well.
What will it cost:
Another reason I like Wilson is his price tag. While it isn't quite clear what he is looking for, I'm guessing his limited time in Baltimore and mixed bag performance in Seattle will keep his price relatively low. My guess is he gets somewhere between $5-5.5 million a year, over 4-6 years. For me this is a case where his potential exceeds his price tag. Wilson is just 26 and entering the prime of his career, making this potentially a steal in terms of value.
Given the fact that the Ravens drafted two corners, and have Dominique Foxworth returning from injury (they are also likely to bring Chris Carr back over Wilson), I don't see them making much of an effort to resign him. That could work well in the Redskins favor, as Wilson might enjoy staying home, rather than signing elsewhere for equal or slightly more money.
I would make Wilson an aggressive offer of 6 years $33 million, with a fair chunk of change paid out in the first two years. Wilson should team up with Hall to give the Redskins two CB's who can catch the ball and take it to the house. He doesn't have the greatest overall track record, but I'm a big believer in him and think that he can be a very good corner for years to come.
What do you think: Is Josh Wilson a good fit for Burgundy and Gold?
Steve Shoup has been a Redskins fan his entire life and dreams of the day they get back to the glory days of his youth. In addition to his regular piece on Hogs Haven, you can find his daily writings at Fanspeak.com.