Our free agent profiles continue with the chance to tackle the cornerback position. Bashaud Breeland, please step under the microscope.
Breeland spent the past four years working in the Washington Redskins’ secondary after being selected in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft (he was selected just one pick ahead of Devonta Freeman). He’s ended up blossoming into a good, starting caliber corner in that time.
At the beginning of the offseason, it was a foregone conclusion that the Redskins would let Breeland test out free agency, but their sentiment in regards to that may have changed after they traded CB Kendall Fuller as part of the package to acquire Alex Smith. For argument’s sake, let’s assume that Breeland can test the market this spring.
Let’s take a look at if the Falcons should bolster their secondary with the big time signing of Breeland.
The case for signing Bashaud Breeland
Breeland is a very productive CB who possesses a lot of the tools needed to play the position effectively. He has quick feet and loose hips which let him fluidly shadow and mirror opposing receivers coverage, and he has aggressive instincts when it comes to stopping the run. His tackling form is also good.
The scheme fit with Breeland won’t be an issue, as he’s used to playing in a similar cover 3 defensive scheme which the Falcons like to run: the Redskins ran a variation of that cover 3 scheme this past season. His physicality and instincts make him suited for this type of defense.
The one time Clemson Tiger was impressive in coverage this past season: ranking fifth in the NFL in total passes defensed with 19. He also ranked eight among CBs in yards allowed per target with just 6.0.
Breeland could slide right into a nickel corner role without much issue, with Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford manning the outside. In 2016, Breeland yielded the lowest passer rating allowed among all DBs in the slot when he lined up on the inside (63.9), according to Pro Football Focus. He would prove to be an upgrade over Brian Poole in the nickel and could give the Falcons the most formidable cornerback triumvirate in the NFL.
At age 26, Breeland will also be in his prime over the life of his next contract.
The case against signing Bashaud Breeland
There’s been a common theme in this section of the free agent profiles thus far, and that theme is money. The Falcons don’t have acres of cap space to work with this offseason as the Browns or 49ers do, and all of these big time free agents will be looking for big-time paydays. Breeland is no exception.
Spotrac projects his market value to be 5 years/$34,922,732: broken up, that’s $6,984,546 annually. Desmond Trufant will be a $12,900,000 cap hit this season; Robert Alford will be a $9,600,000 cap hit this season. If the Falcons give Breeland that annual salary (and it would probably be higher following a bidding war but let’s just assume that it isn’t for a second), they would have $29,484,546 of cap space tied up on only three CBs this year: that’s around 16% of total cap space. That would be a very financially unintelligent situation for the Falcons to put themselves in.
Brian Poole is not as good as Bashaud Breeland. However, he’s proven to be a serviceable nickel corner, and he’s only making $630,000 this year before becoming a restricted free agent in 2019. Getting Breeland on the team to replace Poole would require paying him more than ten times what Poole is making, and that just doesn’t seem worth it.
Breeland isn’t without his blemishes on the field either. His eight penalties last season tied him for fourth among all DBs (Robert Alford had seven, as a reference point). He also has his fair share of bad games and has been susceptible to giving up big plays and big stat-lines in the past.
The Verdict: No to paying big money for Breeland, or any CB for that matter
This spring is going to be a good time for Bashaud Breeland in his life: he’s about to sign a contract that should financially take care of him and his family for the rest of their days. With so much money tied up in the CB position already, however, that contract should not come from the Falcons.
Breeland in a Falcons jersey playing alongside Robert Alford and Desmond Trufant is fun to think about in these dog days between the end of the season and free agency, but it’s just unfeasible. Cornerback is not a position of need for Atlanta, but if Dan Quinn believes it’s necessary to bring in competition for Brian Poole then drafting a CB on day two or three of the draft is the way to go.