If you ask Bashaud Breeland, the answer to his future with the Washington Redskins is simple. But he is not the one who has to make the call.
The cornerback is one of a handful of Redskins players set to become free agents this offseason, but unlike some of his counterparts, Breeland is expected to fetch a sizable contract offer.
So, with star defensive back Josh Norman already in the middle of a rich contract, the question becomes: Can the Redskins afford to carry two high-priced corners on their roster?
"I can't answer that. I'm not in the front office," Breeland said in a recent interview. "But I feel like, if there's a will, there's a way.
"If they want it, they'll make it happen."
The Redskins signed Norman to a five-year, $75 million deal prior to last season — a move Breeland initially took as a sign of disrespect. But the 2014 fourth-round pick's confidence never wavered, not with the arrival of a new No. 1 corner or the chorus of critiques about his game.
"I feel like I'm a top corner in this league," said Breeland, who has 16 passes defensed and recorded his first career pick-six against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 14. "It hasn't been shown, I haven't gotten that publicity, but I feel like with my confidence level and how I believe in myself, I feel like I'm a top corner in this league. I'm just not one of those players that's flashy, that's going to make the flashy play that you want to see, you know what I'm saying? Really, what I do, I bring a lot more to the table — physicality, tackling. I'm a tackling corner. And I play my guy. I make plays."
Coach Jay Gruden praised Breeland during Monday's conference call with reporters for doing "some great things" after being thrown into the lineup early in his career as their No. 1 corner because of injuries. And while Gruden conceded there have been "some ups and downs" in Breeland's game, he said: "For the most part I love the way he competes every Sunday. That's the one thing about Bree, we know we're going to get a very competitive player. And he's handled adversity from time to time very well, and he's been a consistent performer for us for the four years that we've been here."
To play cornerback in the NFL, one must be blessed with quick feet and a short memory. It's one of the hardest positions to play, Breeland points out, noting, "You're running backward and everyone's running forward at you, so you have to react to everything that's going on." The rule book, which forbids defensive backs from making contact with receivers beyond five yards from the line of scrimmage, also puts defenders such as Breeland at a disadvantage.
The critiques of corners, even the best in the game, also can be unrelenting. But Breeland is unfazed by the scrutiny. In fact, he welcomes it.
"I wouldn't say it's fair, but it's not frustrating," he said. "It's just like the quarterback position, you can make plays and your team loses and you'll still get the blame for it in some fashion. We're highly skilled at that position, so it draws the attention of the world."
The "Breeland Island" moniker took off after NBA superstar Kevin Durant tweeted the two words in all caps in October 2014, after Breeland, then a rookie, held his own against Cowboys star Dez Bryant during the Redskins' Week 8 win. But inconsistency remains Breeland's biggest issue.
He had a career-low 11 passes defensed and a career-high three interceptions in 14 games in 2016. Asked to assess his play this year, Breeland said he has had a "fair season" and acknowledged that there were "some hiccups" along the way. "But I feel like it was a strong season. Could have been better — could have had more turnovers — but it was okay," he added.
Each year, though, he has shown improvement. But it remains to be seen if the Redskins' season finale against the New York Giants on New Year's Eve will be his last game with Washington.
Breeland, 25, insists he is focused on the present, not the future.
"I can live with whatever happens," he said, adding that it's not his place to make a case for himself. "I shouldn't have to explain to anyone what I'm worth. The proof is in the pudding. I've got a body of work for the four years I've been here to back that statement up."
There's at least one person at Redskins Park who doesn't need convincing.
"He's another one of the key free agents that we have and we'd love to keep," Gruden said of Breeland. "At the end of the day, I know he's got an agent like all these other players. We'll have to evaluate what we're going to do with him once the season's over. But I've always liked Bree. I like his competitive nature. He can play zone, he can play man. He's long and tough."