General Manager Scot McCloughan
On his level of surprise when CB Josh Norman became available:
"From the standpoint of an All-Pro coming out of an All-Pro year and a Super Bowl, very, very surprised. The thing that's good about this organization and my personnel department is we always try to be one step ahead. We're always on to stuff, and there's possible cap casualties, there's possible stuff with the franchise tag. Very lucky to be the first ones in there. A lot of teams got involved. We got him here ASAP. We were the first team he visited. That's huge, because he's in the prime of his career. And I understand the contracts and all that, but that's part of the process. That's part of the business. But we're getting a really good football player that's going to help us win games."
On the signing:
"I think I'm pretty accurate here – it's the first player ever to be named All-Pro and become a free agent… ever. So, no, we were excited. He's a good football player. He's a good person. I followed him throughcollege, I followed him through the league. He brings a sort of chemistry and culture that I'm looking for and we're looking for. It's a position that's hard to find. Like I said, he's going to help us win games. And that's the bottom line – this organization is about making us better each day and he made us better."
On his comfort with signing Norman so quickly:
"We did talk [amongst the staff] during the season. I had my pro guys, and they each have their own teams and they grade everybody every year. Like I said, I know him. I knew him coming out and I've known him since he's been in the league. I was shocked to see what happened and how it shook out, but like I said, we're adding a football player that we need in a position that's very important. In my personal opinion, he is in the prime of his career right now. There's a reason why he was named All-Pro last year."
On Norman's reported $20 million cap hit next year and how that affects future plans:
"We're always game planning ahead. We always want to be ahead of the curve. I don't want to get into the numbers right now, but we have an idea. We're going to take care of our own and that's the most important thing. We're going to draft well, and we're going to go forward."
On his philosophy on quarterbacks and if it is possible to have too many in the building:
"There's never too many quarterbacks. Not saying first round, fifth round, seventh round, a college free agent… Who knows? The thing that we're going to do is identify, have a value for that position and that player, and that's when we're going to take him."
On how Norman's signing changes his plans for the 2016 NFL Draft:
"It doesn't really change. The thing that's cool about it is that it gives us another good football player on the field. You can never have enough corners… ever. As you're well aware, I want to build through the draft, and I want to build with young guys. So no, it doesn't hold us back, because you can never have enough. There's injuries that happen, and there's trades that happen. Stuff like that happens. You can't just say, 'OK, we're great there. Let's just forget about it.' No, I've been in situations like that. All of a sudden a guy gets hurt or two guys get hurt, and you're like, 'Son of a gun, we had that really good player that we passed on because of a need.' We're going to take a football player. A corner? We'd love to."
On how much Norman can help against NFC East receivers like Odell Beckham Jr. and Dez Bryant:
"It helps a lot. You've got him, you've got Cully [Chris Culliver], [Bashaud] Breeland, the bigger body guys that can play against the bigger body guys. As you guys are well aware nowadays with the league, it's a pass-happy league majority of the time. It's about scoring points. Now if we add another piece to the puzzle to help us cover them – and they're both really, really good players – then we've got another piece to help us."
On the pass rush:
"We're going to be getting a guy back that's healthy in Junior [Galette]. With Preston [Smith] and [Ryan] Kerrigan and Murph [Trent Murphy], we have some talent. Now, we need to add to it – as we need to do at every position. We're going to be OK in the pass rush, and he [Norman] is one of those players that doesn't just survive because there's a pass rush; he knows how to play. And he's a competitive guy, he's a big guy and he's a tough guy."
On if he has seen enough from LB Junior Galette to believe he'll be ready for the season:
"I've already seen it. He's still rehabbing, but he looks excellent. Excellent. His explosion's back.
On if he's confident Galette will be the player McCloughan thought he was upon his signing last year:
"Yes. Healthy, yes."
On how he's feeling about the competitiveness and cohesiveness of the team:
"I feel really good, you know, and when I got here there were already good players here, good coaches here. You know, I have a vision and a culture that I want to see, and it's coming around. I think you saw in the second half of the season, you know, we had a tough time winning on the road early and being together, but what I want to build is a family atmosphere, and it's going in that direction. You can see all the guys that are here now working out – we've got a positive thing going in the right direction."
On CB Chris Culliver and DB Kyshoen Jarrett:
"I'm anticipating they're both going to be healthy. It's hard right now – we've got a ways to go before we get to [training] camp. Both were significant injuries, I understand that, and that happens – that's a tough part about this. But, you know, they're both here, they're both working hard, so it's a process. And you can't pinpoint it – the doctors can't even do it, the trainers can't do it. You just see improvement, and that's what you're looking for."
On how long it took the Redskins to be "all-in" on signing Norman:
"Well, to be 'all-in' is a little different. How long did it take to get to him? Ten minutes [laughter]. Because we knew – and I don't want to mention the amount of teams that were involved, but it was a lot – so we knew we had to get him right away and just get him on an airplane. And that's what we did."
*On if the skillsets of safeties and cornerbacks are starting to merge together: *
"No, they're different players. What you look for in characteristics are different. With the corner you want more speed, you want more quickness, you want more flexibility in his hips and all that. The thing that's nice about the guys that you mentioned is the fact that they can maybe play both. And it's tough on them, especially a young guy like Kyshoen [Jarrett], because you're asking him to do a lot of things during the week and all of a sudden and also go out there and say, 'OK, you're going to play some nickel corner, you're going to play some strong, we might put you outside at corner. They're different characteristics, but again, when it's all said and done, they have instincts and they have intelligence that we look for, and the character that we look for, that's what's cool about a Blackmon moving back to safety, and he has no problem doing it. They're different positions, that's for sure."
On reconciling the Norman signing with his philosophy of building through the draft:
"Again, like I always say, free agency is a tool you use. It's something a lot of teams use more than others. I'm not a big proponent of it. I think you saw we signed a lot of our own guys back, signed a couple on the street. It's one of those things where this kid's coming off an All-Pro season, he's 28 and he matches all the characteristics we look for in a football player. So it's something you delve into. I wish I got him when he was 22, but that's not the case. But still, I feel he's in the prime of his career. But we're going to build through the draft no matter what."
On if he has a player he is ready to select with the No. 21 overall pick:
"Hopefully we've got a couple of them [laughter]. But yeah, it's a strong draft, it really is on both sides of the ball. Of course I'm not going to say names or anything like that. My personal opinion, there will be a handful of guys in the first round but also second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh that are football players and there's a value for each one of them. It gets lesser and lesser, but I'll take the lesser height/weight/speed guy for the more consistent football player, that you know exactly character-wise, toughness, competitiveness that they bring to the Redskins."
On if any teams have approached him about trading draft picks:
"Not yet, no. I would love to have more picks, every year I would. It's going to be a draft day thing like it was last year."
On the trades that have already occurred prior to the draft this year:
"It's unique. There's a lot of stuff going on. I don't want to comment on other teams but, yeah, there were two big trades."
On his evaluation of Norman prior to the 2012 NFL Draft:
"The thing about it, is it's much easier with a college player coming out, because with the coaches, being able to sit down with them face-to-face and all that… Once they're under contract with another NFL team, of course you can't have any contact, no touch, whatever. But that's what's cool being around as long as I have and some of the guys I have with me upstairs, to recall his character, to recall the person he was and all that kind of stuff, you know? Yeah, then, of course, bringing him in here and sitting him down in front of me and sitting him down in front of the coaches and even some of the players, and, you know, I saw the same exact guy coming out. You know, quality. Quality character, and a really good football player."
On how the draft process has been different this year:
"You know what, it's smoother now because I know the college scouts, I know the pro scouts. I know the characteristics and what they look for and they know what I look for, so it's been easier. Now it's never easy when it's all said and done, but it's been smoother for me just because I know the people, you know, and they know I'm looking for, and that's important."
On why there are fewer tight ends available in the draft:
"It's simple – because of the spread offense. It's simple. You know, we've got a Y and a U. The Y is the inline, blocking, receiving blocking tight end, and the U is more like the receiving tight end. The Y's aren't there anymore. It's the spread offense. The U's are playing flexed out as a receiver, and they're not going with the tight end inline, you know? So it's tough. It makes it hard, but that's why I thought it was very important to get Vernon Davis this offseason to add to the mix, Derek [Carrier's] working his tail off, Carrier trying to get back. Of course, Jordan [Reed] is excellent. But it's a dying breed. It really is. And you can't invent them, you know? You see what you see, and that's what you get."
On if he sees a day in which blocking tight ends are phased out:
"Well, I think you saw last year what we did with [tackle] Tom Compton, trying to make him a blocking tight end. You know, it's tough. But the game is of trends – it'll trend back again at some point."
On contract talks with quarterback Kirk Cousins and if McCloughan is confident a deal can get done prior to the deadline:
"Yeah, I think so. We're still in discussions, and they're positive. You know, it takes both sides to get to an agreement, but no, it's a positive thing and he has a positive feeling here about him. He's here. The whole thing, I mean, it's a big contract. It's negotiation. It's back and forth. But we're in contact – we would love to get something done prior to [the deadline]."
On if there is more optimism about where the team stands in his process:
"There's more optimism for sure because I think you saw what happened the second half of the season. You know, we've done some nice things so far in this offseason, and we're going have a good draft. So we're adding young players that are going to help us win games. The optimism is there. I mean, just seeing the guys out there, how hard they're working, how excited they are to be here. It's going in the right direction. Who knows – this year, next year, whatever. But we're getting better and the organization is getting stronger."
Cornerback Josh Norman
On how he expects his transition with this defense to go:
"Well, I think it's going to go well. For me, I don't know, this is football. I don't put too much emphasis on anything. It's X's and O's. Their player against our best player. We're going to see who's going to win."
On the similarity in defensive systems between Washington and Carolina:
"Yeah, there's a lot of similarities, but when you've got a corner that can do pretty much everything in the system, it's kind of refreshing to go somewhere else that's a bit similar. Everything that the DC [Defensive Coordinator Joe Barry] asks of me, that the position coach asks of me, I'm going to do 110 percent. We've got a couple things that we did over in Carolina here with the Redskins, so I'm looking forward to it and looking forward to helping some of the guys out here, help us to our ultimate goal."
On how crazy the last week has been for him:
"It's still surreal. It's kind of crazy. Now I'm sitting up here talking to you guys on another team, another colors. It's kind of still surreal, but I'm blessed. I'm very, very fortunate enough to be here with this magnitude of an organization. I can't say enough great things about them. The history here is 84-years-plus, so this is the golden age of football when you come down here to the NFC East. So I'm loving it right now."
On when he realized Washington was the place for him:
"Well, it was a family decision, I would say. It wasn't so much my decision, it was a family decision as well because, shoot, once I got on that plane, they didn't let me out the building. I went around and I asked all of my brothers, my mom and pop, it was either here or New Orleans. Sean Payton, who is my long, good friend wanted me out there but I asked and I went around the room and it was like, 'Hey man, what do you guys think?' Each and every one of them gave me my spiel, gave them their spiel, the pros and the cons – we weighed that – and they started to speak and I said, 'OK, N.O. [New Orleans].' Maybe one or two raised their hand. Then I said, 'Redskins.' I don't know what the President did, the Owner and the GM, but everybody raised their hand and I looked at it like, 'Well, here we go. This is done, sealed, signed and delivered me over.' So I was here. I loved it every step of the way. Every time I stepped in the building, it was like a family feel. It was welcoming, and their hospitality, it just sparked into my family and that's kind of how I got here. And I'm so blessed and fortunate enough to be a Washington Redskin."
On how the Redskins first contacted him:
"First, I think 30 minutes after the whole thing went down, I was still shell-shocked. I think the President [Bruce Allen] sent me a picture of a jersey and I didn't see it until a day-and-a-half, maybe two days later after everything went down. I saw it and the text he wrote me and I just looked and I smiled. I was like, 'Wow.' This felt pretty cool to have a team send you actually something like that and really, really want you that bad. It showed me that they're willing to do anything to make it happen because I never really… all my life I wasn't recruited by any big-time organization or anything like that. Coming through high school, there was no big one other than Georgia but I went up there – they didn't come see me. College, I walked onto Coastal Carolina. Coming out of Coastal Carolina to the Carolina Panthers, there wasn't no big hoorah, but now on the biggest stage in the world and I get to be a free agent, geez, it was like a party. So I kind of got a feeling of how those first-rounders and everybody felt when all the glitz and glam started coming. So I enjoyed it, man. I was very appreciative of it."
On being among the highest-paid cornerbacks in the NFL
"I don't know, man. I guess you've got to know yourself, know your worth. So I guess I know my worth. I know myself."
On facing Odell Beckham Jr. and Dez Bryant twice a year in divisional play:
"Well, you know, I'm looking forward to a competitive game, hard-nosed competition. Best on best. You see me, I see you. Nothing more, nothing less. Make a good play? Cool, let's go to the next one. If you don't? Cool, let's go to the next one. At the end of the day, after them four quarters, we're going to see who's standing."
On if the events of the last week add to his motivation:
"Oh my goodness, I carried a big bag with me when I came up here. I've still got that bag with me and it's on the back with now. You can't see it, but when I step in between them white lines, I'm going to drop it. When you see it, it's going to be pretty, pretty heavy, and I can't wait until that time comes. Right now I'm just getting acclimated with my new teammates and showing them how much I care about them, loving up on them and getting to know them. Back in Carolina, they are my guys, my teammates, my brothers – I love each and every one of them – nothing has changed from that perspective of me. I'm human, you know? This happened kind of like overnight in a way. I still have got those feelings but at the end of the day you've got to understand that this is a business. For me, I just looked at that and went on and took it as I'm here to help someone else. I'm here to pay it forward and give back as much as I can to show someone else. I took that approach and now I'm a leader for a team, a team that really wants me and truly [does] value me and what I can bring to the table. I'm ready to give everything I've got to them so this is why I'm here."
On how he learned of the Panthers rescinding the franchise tag:
"I got the news coming up the road from a funeral. The agents called me and told me about it and right then my phone just started blowing up out of nowhere. I talked to my marketing guy, Ian, for a good minute and then I cocked back and just – I don't know, man – sat in my room for a while. I was just starring at the wall. I really didn't want to be around nobody or deal with anything. I was trying to deal with it in my own way. When you play for somebody and been there for 28 years of your life and just kind of by night get snatched up out of there, it's kind of a shaken feeling. It's kind of shaking the foundations of what you know and your normal every day going throughout life. Now there's a ram in the bush, and in that ram, God saw it for me to come up here to the Washington Redskins and be here because somebody valued me. And I'm not in my comfort zone, but how can you grow if you're not in your comfort zone? So I took that pledge and I decided I was going to do something great and magnificent here, and bring everything that I have got and give it to these guys because this fan base is so strong. They're looking for a championship here and that's all I'm going to bring them, man – 110 percent, full-out effort and whatever I can't do I'm going to ask and see if I can help them. They believed in me and I'm going to give everything back to them."
On facing Beckham twice a season:
"God has got a way of smiling at people, huh? Geez, he's got jokes. He really do. But no, It's going to be fun. I don't know, he's a competitor. I'm going to play, I'm going to give it everything I've got, just as well as he is, and any other competitor. I don't look at it no other way. Whatever happens that day, it will happen. I don't hold the future. But what I do know is I'm going to work my tail off until I see somebody that's different and that's all I'm bringing here, man, just work. Work, work, work. Dedication, determination to my craft. Everything else is pretty much irrelevant, man. That's what they believed in, Mr. Snyder, Mr. Scot, Mr. Bruce, everybody that was here, man, OC/DC, just the Coach, man – Mr. Gruden, he's just so 'want to win' – and that's what I bring here."
On Owner Dan Snyder's message to him during their meetings:
"Hey, be myself. Be myself. Take the team, show them, lead them. Bring what you know, everything you've got in you, man, give it your all. Don't feel pressured into anything, just come out and do what you have to do and be yourself. When I really looked at it like that, it really made me respect him even more, just having that one-on-one personal relationship. I know I had an owner like that in Mr. Richardson, it was pretty cool. Mr. Snyder, it's just wow, it's just great. I can't say enough good things about him. He's a wonderful, wonderful man, and I'm so glad to be a part of his team."
On the importance of joining a playoff team:
"Well, it was everything, I think. When I went around, everybody asked that question. It was pretty much, 'You know, we went to the playoffs. We've got some pieces in place.' I looked it at, the quarterback, franchise left tackle [Trent Williams], I mean, D-ends, defensive backs, wide receivers, I mean, running backs. They've got pieces in place to be successful. Even linebackers, I mean. One here and there, I mean, give or take. But they've got pieces in place to make a deep run. Then you've got Junior Galette coming back, so I'm super excited, you know, for what this team can do. And that was a huge part of making my decision to come here because of that. And they have tasted that so I just want to go deeper into the playoffs and, hey, see what happens. That's what we did in Carolina and I know we can do it here. It's no difference. Pedigree and everything is the same and I'm just loving it up right now and can't help to be a part of something that's special and great because we on the rise, man. Get on the train or not."
On if he anticipated visiting multiple teams:
"Nah, I really didn't, you know? My agent, Ryan Williams, was like 'You've got to take this flight.' I was just like 'I really didn't want to do nothing,' to be honest with you. I really just wanted to stay in my room and look at the wall. But I knew I had to get up, I had to get up. And I did, and I heard whispers that once they let you in, they ain't going to let you out. And I was kind of thinking to myself, 'Man, I don't know if that's true or not,' but I started to go online and looking up Redskin colors, started doing a little bit more research. And I did and I came here and got my family. Gosh, just the whole recruiting thing, it's just so much real, man. Got here, started seeing everything, started talking to the coaches. It just felt right, it just really felt right. I started to look at it, and, man, we're really here in Tiffany's right now. This feels mighty nice."
On Mr. Snyder:
"Hey, he wants to win. It don't matter what the cost, he wants to win. If you've got it, you've got it. If you don't, you don't. It is what it is, man. It's black and white. He got it. I'm here, plain and simple. I mean, shoot, he pulled it out. He showed me. I looked around. I scoped. I did my homework and my research. And this team, I'm telling you, is on the rise. That's what really ultimately made my decision. I mean, it wasn't about all that other stuff. I mean, yeah, it's great to set your family up for life. I mean, I did that along with coming to a championship team, man. I mean, the blessings are in both hands. Like, what's the odds in that? You know what I'm saying? You don't have a job. You've got a job for like two days, a day-and-a-half, hours. And then you come here on a plane and they don't let you out of the building? It's like, geez, what would you do? You know what I'm saying? For me, it was kind of like God sent one of those angels to come through and just make my situation even brighter. For me, my core values has always been God, la familia and football. Everything else is secondary to none. That's kind of how I looked at it and that's kind of how I took this whole process. Shoot, my hands was tied and he just led me in the way."
On his journey from being a walk-on at Coastal Carolina and if he reflected on it during the flight:
"I'll be honest with you, I did in a way but I kind of stopped myself because I'm not done yet. I'm not done yet. I haven't really gotten to the point where I feel like I made it. I haven't. I don't feel like I made it. I feel like there is still work to do just because, I mean, I even get chill bumps right now telling you all and talking to you about it because I have got so much more to accomplish. I'm just starting, to be honest with you. All my life I've been doubted, counted out and cast away. But now, I have got a chance to make those doubters and anybody who said anything about me reflect back and make that wrong a right, show them something different, man. And that's what I'm going to bring here, I'm going to bring to everybody else, man, because I really don't care about that. I really don't. You talk about me, I'm just going to put that extra luggage in my bag. And when I drop it on the field between them white lines, I'll show you differently."
On playing with CB Bashaud Breeland and DB DeAngelo Hall:
"Oh my gosh, man, I couldn't believe it. D-Hall, getting to work with him… Shoot, I think he could even be a future Hall of Famer how he's been playing. Then you've got Breeland, he's coming up. He trained with me. He just… I love the way he plays. And they've got pieces here to be successful – you know what I'm saying? – in the back secondary and I'm just a part of something that's special that I can call my own, in a way. I really can. I can just use that to be and take this team to a whole 'nother level because to be honest with you, we go hand-in-hand. Front to secondary, secondary to front. Linebackers play off of us and we just do our thing. I think we've got something special here that can do that. We've just got cats that can lock up and go and do however coaches want us to do, and I'm just so appreciative of DC [Defensive Coordinator Joe Barry] and my position coach so much because they allow me to be myself and allow me to do the things that I've done. I can't speak enough about that and I really do appreciate them for not trying to put me in no bubble or box but let me do my thing. I can't speak enough about that. So have my other coaches when I was at Carolina, but here I'm going to really show you something different."