WASHINGTON — Redskins cornerback Bashaud Breeland is a polarizing talent.
Breeland has shown flashes of ability in his first three seasons, starting 43 games, but inconsistency on the field and stubbornness off it have become a concern.
Now entering a contract year, the 25-year-old is balancing improving his game with leaving outside perceptions about his personality alone. Breeland frequently uses his Twitter account to interact with fans or just get his own thoughts out to the public.
“I show people who I am. People are going to have their opinions regardless,” Breeland said. “They look at me like I’m a dirty rock. But at the end of the day, I’m a hard rock. I do my job. I am who I am.”
That probably won’t change anytime soon. Breeland was clearly annoyed last spring that the Redskins felt the need to go out and sign Josh Norman when he unexpectedly became a free agent. But it’s not like Breeland had come close to reaching Norman’s level yet.
Some critics saw last season as a step back for Breeland beginning with a rough opening night against Pittsburgh and star wide receiver Antonio Brown, who caught two touchdown passes in that game. The Redskins believe Breeland is ready for a fresh start in 2017.
“He’s grown up a lot just from his rookie year to now,” Washington coach Jay Gruden said. “I think last year we had some ups and downs, so to speak, in the whole defensive secondary and everywhere on defense – really the whole team in general. I think he’s grown from what he’s learned. He’s becoming more confident in his abilities also. You can see that.”
Breeland will note that the Redskins have drafted a cornerback in the third round each of the last two seasons. In 2016 it was Kendall Fuller, who became the primary nickel corner last year, and this spring it was UCLA’s Fabian Moreau, who is out until at least August with a torn pectoral muscle.
The need for depth at corner was clearly in play with those decisions, but it also provides the Redskins with possible in-house replacements if Breeland struggles this season and they decide to move on.
In preparation, Breeland fired his previous agents at the agency CAA and hired Joe Flanagan and Brad Leshnock of BTI Sports Advisors. He says he wanted a closer relationship with the people representing him instead of a major firm like CAA.
Breeland clashed at times with former defensive backs coach Perry Fewell – he was far from the only one – and said he’s looking forward to working with new defensive backs coach Torrian Gray, who has spent the past decade as a college position coach.
Breeland will have the opportunity to make a splash this season. His starting spot isn’t in question. Moreau will miss almost all of training camp and Fuller had his own issues as a rookie. Corner Quinton Dunbar is still adjusting to the position after switching there from wide receiver during training camp in 2015.
The question is, does Breeland put together a good enough year that the Redskins commit to him long term? They have already done that with right tackle Morgan Moses, who was chosen one round ahead of Breeland in 2014 and signed a contract extension this spring. They chose not to do so with Breeland this offseason, even though he is eligible for one.
Related: Moses Inks Contract Extension
“I’m not talking about any contract. I’m talking about what I can do to help the Redskins win in 2017,” Breeland said. “That’s all I’m focused on. No pressure. Not anxious to get to this point, get to that point. We’ll cross that bridge when we cross it.”
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