As the Washington Redskins head into free agency after nearly clinching a playoff spot for the second-straight year, we will look at some of Washington’s key players and grade their 2016 performance.
Player: Josh Norman
Contract status: $75 million/5 years, expires in 2021
Preseason buzz: On April 20, Josh Norman's life changed forever as Carolina rescinded his franchise tag. Two days later, Norman was a Washington Redskin with a huge bump in pay. As an All-Pro from the previous year, the expectations for Norman were sky high coming into training camp.
Ended 2016 like: Norman started in all sixteen games of the Redskins season and had a fine showing beyond the box score. The corner did not make it to the Pro Bowl but was never a liability on an otherwise shaky defense. Norman finished with 67 tackles, 19 passes defensed, three interceptions, and two forced fumbles.
Season high: In a year where Norman missed multiple opportunities for interceptions, he did not let the chances slip away against the Chicago Bears. In a five interception performance from Matt Barkley, Norman came through with two turnovers to triple his total on the season.
Season low: Norman's debut in London against Cincinnati was a forgettable one. The corner was called for five penalties including a mind boggling four illegal use of hands to the face infractions that continues to confuse Redskins Nation. A close runner up was his two penalties against Odell Beckham Jr. in the season finale against the New York Giants in a win or stay home scenario.
All in all, Norman was easily the best player on the Redskins defense. Some will still question if he is worth $75 million including $50 million guaranteed, but Washington would have lost at least two more games without his services this season. In a year where opposing offenses moved the football at will, Norman was one of the few bright spots.
2017 expectations: Washington will not have to worry about their top cornerback position as an area of need this offseason. The Redskins will hope for more shut down coverage from Norman in 2017 and the rest of his contract with a touch less of penalty yardage and an uptick in turnovers forced. Norman's style of play may make the former tough and the latter could also be difficult if quarterbacks continue to avoid throwing in his direction.
Follow Neil on Twitter @NeilDalal96.
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