Tuesday, December 21, 2010 9:15 AM
By Rich Tandler
Redskins cornerback Carlos Rogers is going to be a free agent this coming offseason. Should the Redskins try to keep him? Or should they let him go? We examine that question in this weeks edition of the wildly popular Point-Counterpoint. Point Carlos Rogers is and I know some people cringe at the phrase a core Redskin. The Redskins drafted him with the ninth overall pick in 2005 and put him in the starting lineup soon after that. He has emerged as one of the leaders in the secondary and one of the better corners in the league.
That being said, I know a lot of fans will be happy to drive him to the airport to get him out of town when his contract is up. All they see are the dropped interceptions, which well get into later. But you wont find a lot of teammates or coaches who would be glad to see him go and if he hits the market a lot of teams would welcome him with open arms.
Counterpoint No doubt Carlos is a great guy. He is one of the best interviews in the locker room because he gives informative answers and not just the usual stock answers. And he has worked hard and hes been a great teammate. But its time to turn the page.
Rogers is going to be 30 before training camp starts. If the Redskins cant learn from their own mistakes, maybe they can learn from another teams bad contract. The Cowboys gave cornerback Terence Newman a six-year, 50.2 million contract with 22.5 million guaranteed a few months before his 30th birthday. Now, two years into the deal, Newman still is one of the top-paid corners in the league but he cant even hang with other teams second receivers. The Redskins, who probably will be rebuilding around a rookie quarterback, dont need to be spending a lot of money on a cornerback whose skills will be diminishing just when the team might be rounding into contending form. Point Lets talk about the dropped interceptions now. Who is this guys personal trainer anyway, Roberto Hands of Stone Duran? It goes back to his rookie year. In the playoffs in Seattle the Redskins had just taken a 3-0 lead midway through the second quarter. On the first play after the kickoff Matt Hasselbeck threw a pass right to Rogers. There was nothing in between him and the goal line but green field turf and white stripes. But he dropped it, the Seahawks drove for a touchdown, and the game swung Seattles way instead of the Redskins having all of the momentum. That set the tone for his career.
In 67 career starts over almost six seasons he has seven interceptions. Most starting cornerbacks can stumble into that many picks every couple of years or so. Maybe this was acceptable in years past but with the 3-4 defense being all about takeaways because, heaven knows, they cant stop anybody the Redskins need a corner who can catch the ball. That just isnt in Rogers skill set.
Counterpoint We could make the lame he catches the ball just fine in practice argument but the fact is that Carlos will never rack up a bunch of interceptions. Part of the reason is because opposing teams dont throw his way often. Remember when Jay Cutler said that he would throw at DeAngelo Hall all day again even through Hall picked him off a record four times? That sounded dumb, but part of that has to do with the fact that Rogers patrols the other side. Hes not a shutdown corner. There are very few of those in the NFL these days. He is, however, the closest thing the Redskins have to one. And while he doesnt make many big plays, he doesnt allow many, either. Remember on Sunday when Hall gambled for the interception and missed, allowing Jason Witten to walk into the end zone? Do you recall Rogers doing something like that? Keep thinking, and get back to me if you come up with one of the very few times he has made such a play in six seasons. Hall makes the big plays but Carlos is as fundamentally sound as they come. Point Yes, the Redskins are going to be rebuilding, but cornerback is one of those positions where you have to be very careful. If you have a weak link there that opposing quarterbacks can exploit it will be difficult to evaluate the rest of the players on defense. And look at the receivers in the division. The Eagles have Maclin and Jackson, the Giants have a few good, young receivers, and Dallas has the overrated but still dangerous Miles Austin and Dez Bryant. Thats no place to throw in a rookie.You could go after a free agent like Eric Wright, who is younger. Or they could go the other way and try to lure back Champ Bailey, who is three years older than Rogers and had his best years in Denver with Mike Shanahan. But why not invest in and reward one of your own?
Counterpoint This whole discussion is centered on what may be a false premise. We are assuming that Rogers even wants to come back and that he may give the Redskins a little bit of a hometown discount to stay. He may, however, want to get as far away from Ashburn as possible. He is one of the few who have been through all of the drama and soap operas, both real (Sean Taylors death) and manufactured (Albert, Donovan, coaching changes). One couldnt blame him if he wanted a change of scenery. Even if he wants to come back, though, the Redskins shouldnt show him a whole lot of money. They gave 55 million to Hall in 2009 and having two expensive cornerbacks puts a big crimp in the teams salary structure. They have been grooming Kevin Barnes and Byron Westbrook for the past couple of years. Barnes needs some polish in coverage but he can dish out some hits. Westbrook has good speed and is very coachable. Give the kids a shot and maybe take another one later in the draft. Point Good teams, the smart ones, know when to let a player go. There is no way in the world that the Steelers or Patriots would give a 30-year-old cornerback like Rogers the kind of contract that hes going to command. Maybe you cant cure stupid quickly but you can at least start in the right direction.
Counterpoint Pittsburgh and New England are great models but you cant start copying their methods right off the bat. They have been accumulating depth through the draft for years. I suppose you have to start somewhere but starting by blowing a hole in a critical position isnt necessarily the way to do it. You can reach Rich by email at RTandlerCSN@comcast.net and follow him on Twitter @RealRedskins. Join Rich Tandler for an in-game chat during the Redskins-Jaguars game on Sunday. Things will get underway on www.CSNwashington.com shortly before kickoff at 12:45 Eastern and continue all game long.