1. Poor Josh Norman. Wait...that came out wrong. Poor, rich Josh Norman. It's not his fault our franchise has had such a nightmarish recent history (think decade or two) with paying top dollar for free agent/veteran studs. It's not Josh Norman's fault that he finds himself staring into the abyss of what was--at one point--a RAGING dumpster fire. If names like Deion Sanders, Mark Carrier, Bruce Smith and Dana Stubblefield mean nothing to you, what about names like Albert Haynewsorth, Adam Archuleta, Jeff George and Antwaan Randle-El? What about Mike Barrow and Jeremiah Trotter? I mean, we once gave Donovan McNabb $40 million...GUARANTEED. The worst thing is that this list is hardly exhaustive. The average Redskins fan can spit this list out in his or her sleep. For better or for worse, this is the world that Josh Norman has entered, and it is what has colored many perspectives in Redskins Nation. The Redskins made "buying the high" their standard business practice for a stretch, to disastrous results, so watching them do it now brings back some terrible feelings. I doubt Josh is spending too much time worrying about Albert Haynesworth's legacy. By all accounts, he is concerned only with being a Redskin, and he has already won many fans over with his excitement to be in burgundy and gold.
2. Whenever you sign a player at the tippy-top of the scale, there is very little room for error. That guy has to perform at a high level--an elite level--or the money is all but wasted. No matter what any of us have seen on film, or heard from talking heads and other so-called experts, until Norman sees the field for us in September, we are all going to be guzzling Pepto Bismol. We want him to be great. We want him to be the savior of our secondary. Mostly, we just want to see the best possible team on the field that has the best possible chance of growing together year after year. What makes the Norman signing so tough for us is that when you commit that much money to one player, it shrinks your future ability to sign guys. If you get it right, all is good, and you gladly defend your payment to a player like Josh Norman. If you get it wrong, you have to watch your team lose its own young talent to free agency, paralyzed by the millstone tied to your neck. It's...uhhhhh...no fun.
3. I am not going to spend much time predicting or contemplating the failure of Josh Norman. I simply don't believe he is the kind of player who is going to get paid and then all of a sudden forget how to be an impact player. Mostly, I don't believe McLovin is the kind of general manager that targets that kind of player. Our personnel man has a Jedi-like feel for the kind of player he wants to add to our roster. He knows it when he sees it, and he sees it in Josh Norman. It might sound trite, but I fully trust that McLovin has signed the best possible player to our defense. Further, he has played the free agency period of the offseason to perfection, which allowed us to even be in position to make a play for the cornerback.
4. The Washington Redskins are the defending NFC East champions. That forces us to play a couple harder games than our divisional foes will have to play (at least based on last year's records). Antonio Brown, A.J. Green and Alshon Jeffery are just a few of the top wide receivers we'll face during the campaign next season. You could always use an extra All-Pro cornerback against players like that, but the real need for an amped up secondary exists within our own division. This is where I think the meat of the Josh Norman decision was made. This is where the true need for Josh Norman stemmed from, and why McLovin (and Dan Snyder) were willing to pay what it took to bring in the elite defender. We play six games in the division, against a trio of receivers that are good enough to dominate any defense in the league.
5. Dez Byrant, Jordan Matthews and Odell Beckham, Jr. are all tough outs. All three can get their numbers against just about anyone you throw against them. If all you have is one above average cornerback (Bashaud Breeland), offensive coordinators will figure out a way to get their top wide receiver on the opposite side of the field. We have seen where on that one play, we get toasted. Jordan Matthews and ODB are both entering their third years (you know, the year most receivers "turn the corner"), and Dez has six years of NFL experience at just 27 years of age. Simply put, the Redskins are in the business of facing top receivers, which makes the investment at cornerback position a top business priority. I love Quenton Dunbar. I can't wait to see what he develops into, but we have Bryant and ODB in the first three weeks of the season (plus Antonio Brown). Our best chances of repeating as division champion rest on being able to contain these three wide receivers (something we have not been able to do even remotely consistently). There is likely no player in the draft who could come in and perform at Josh Norman's level, and there is certainly nobody left on the street who can come in play the part of an All-Pro corner. The money we gave Norman will always be the hangup for so many of us, but this business decision seems rooted in wisdom and logic. Josh Norman is not a superfluous addition to our defense. He is not a luxury addition. When your goal is to repeat as division champion, you have to be able to match up with the best players in your division. Before we signed Josh Norman, we could not. It is time to revise our win predictions!
6. This leads me to the topics on The Audible this week. I am hoping to line up one of our esteemed authors to help us decide how many more wins Josh Norman is worth. I would love to incorporate your thoughts into this discussion, so please add them below. We'll also make one last run at predicting how the draft will go down. I think this week's "Plead the 1st" segment should be each of us (Kevin, Tim and I) telling you why our draft was so great by imagining what our perfect Redskins draft scenario would entail. As The Audible is the official Redskins podcast of Hogs Haven, it would be incomplete without the comments from the readers on a few important topics/questions:
1) Kirk Cousins and Bryce Harper look to lock horns for at least the next few years to see who the King of the DC sports scene is--who has the inside track, and why? (I love both equally and unconditionally, but these kinds of sports conversations are tailor-made for whiskey-soaked basement podcasts.)
2) What stat line does Josh Norman need to have in 2016 for you to be able to live with this contract? Let's focus on the first year of his deal and feel free to reference any stat at all--hell, make up your own stats. For $75 million, we have a lot of room here.
3) Will Trent Murphy be on this team in three years? It's a pretty loaded question, and is very much draft-related. Take it in any direction you wish, and definitely feel free to reference any of the million times I wrote that adding bulk to Trent's frame was the ultimate goal when we drafted him.