- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 2, 2018

ASHBURN — It would have been logical to assume with the Washington Redskins re-signing of cornerback Quinton Dunbar on Monday that cornerback Bashaud Breeland was good as gone in free agency.

Not so, Redskins coach Jay Gruden said.

“It has no effect on Bree whatsoever,” Gruden said.

Breland will be a free agent in March and the Redskins signed Dunbar to a three-year, $10.5 million contract ($5.25 million guaranteed). Both players are 25, but Breeland entered the NFL the season prior to Dunbar. Dunbar was facing restricted free agency before his extension.

Gruden said Dunbar has made progression at a “rapid rate” since switching from wide receiver in 2015. Dunbar, who played in all 16 games, started four times this season, filling in for cornerback Josh Norman, who suffered a fractured rib in Week 4 against the Kansas City Chiefs. Norman missed the next two games. Dunbar’s 371 defensive snaps were a career-high.

Gruden said letting Dunbar walk in free agency would have been a mistake.

“I think the skill set that he has with his length and his speed is a rare combination and he’s only going to get better,” Gruden said. “You can never have too many corners in your building, so whatever happens with Breeland happens, but I know that having another quality corner that can run and cover is a value.”

Still, the Redskins re-signing Breeland could be a challenge. Washington could see the majority of its salary cap room go to quarterback Kirk Cousins this offseason, depending on if the team applies a third-straight franchise tag or re-signs him to a long-term contract.

The Redskins will have 17 free agents besides Breeland and Cousins, including wide receiver Ryan Grant. Gruden said Tuesday that the Redskins would “try and do everything we can” to get Grant back in 2018.

After the Redskins’ 18-10 loss Sunday to the New York Giants, Breeland said he had yet to have a conversation with management about staying with the Redskins in the future.

Washington also drafted cornerback Fabian Moreau in the third-round out of UCLA and so he could be an option to replace Breeland in the starting lineup, if Breeland leaves. Moreau saw limited snaps as a rookie, mostly playing on special teams.

In December, Gruden said Moreau progressed nicely throughout the year in practice. Moreau missed most of OTAs and training camp recovering from a torn pectoral. He used most of his rookie season to learn the grind of an NFL schedule.

“I think next year in the offseason and training camp is going to be a great test for him, but I think he’s got the chance to be a true lockdown corner for us,” Gruden said. “He’s physical. He can run. He’s done great on special teams as a flyer, but like you said, he hasn’t gotten the opportunity because of Bree and Dunny and Josh. His opportunity will come and it will come soon.”

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