Now in his first season as a member of the San Francisco 49ers, Rogers enters Sunday’s game against his former team with three interceptions through seven games. The Redskins’ cornerbacks have a total of two this season. Rogers’s replacement, Josh Wilson, has none.
“You always miss having a guy like Carlos Rogers around,” Washington cornerback DeAngelo Hall said. “He’s funny, he’s entertaining, he’s a good football player. He’s finally starting to catch the ball. We definitely could have used that. You definitely miss him.”
While the Redskins have struggled to create as many turnovers as coaches would like, Rogers has finally shown he can hold on to the ball. In six seasons in Washington, Rogers posted three seasons in which he had two interceptions. He never had three. Now, he’s tied for third in the NFC and eighth in the NFL.
“I think I’m doing pretty good,” Rogers said Wednesday. “Not even just talking about the interceptions — everyone looks at that — but I think just all-around play.”
Rogers said he was ready to leave Washington a couple of years ago, but he didn’t hit the open market as a true free agent until this offseason. “It was time for me to leave,” he said.
He’s apparently right about that. Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan said as much after practice Wednesday.
“If he was as consistent as we would’ve liked, then we would’ve signed him long term. . . . We decided to go in a different direction,” Shanahan said.
Rogers said he was ready to seek a new home shortly after former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams left Washington following the 2007 season. Rogers, a first-round selection out of Auburn in 2005, said he was well aware of the Redskins’ history of re-signing few of their own draft picks.
Since Daniel Snyder bought the team in 1999, the team has drafted 82 players, 19 of whom are still with the organization, playing out their rookie contracts. Only three of those draft picks were re-signed to long-term deals with Washington: Chris Samuels, LaVar Arrington and Chris Cooley.
“I didn’t think that the Redskins were going to re-sign me anyway,” Rogers said.
Instead, Rogers signed a one-year contract with the 49ers for $2,125,000 with a signing bonus also worth $2,125,000. The Redskins went after Wilson, giving him a three-year deal that pays $2 million this season, plus a $4 million bonus that is prorated over three years. Wilson’s base jumps to $3.4 million next year.
While Wilson received the better free agent contract, his production thus far hasn’t matched that of Rogers, at least not statistically. Wilson leads the Redskins with seven pass defenses, according to the team’s review of game film. While Hall has had a hand in 44 tackles, Wilson is credited with only 26. He hasn’t dropped interceptions as Rogers used to, but he also hasn’t had the opportunity to drop too many.
“Could be great, could be better,” Wilson said. “But we’re all right right now.
“You want to be the total package,” he added. “You want to be able to make the big play and also be a cover guy. I think when me and D-Hall go out there, we haven’t been able to make big plays. We haven’t really had as many opportunities to do that.”
Before he signed with Washington, Wilson had played four years in the NFL, the last three as a starter. He had four interceptions in 2008, two in ’09 and three last year with the Baltimore Ravens.
Wilson, Shanahan said, is a great fit for Washington’s system. “I’m glad we got him on our football team,” he said. “I think he’ll keep on getting better and better as he becomes more comfortable with our system. He’s been banged up a little bit. He’s fought through it. But I like what I see.”
The Redskins’ secondary as a whole hasn’t nabbed as many interceptions as they would like. The team is ranked 21st in the NFL with six interceptions: two by linebackers (London Fletcher and Ryan Kerrigan), two by safeties (Oshiomogho Atogwe and Reed Doughty) and two by corners (Hall and Kevin Barnes).
Hall said interceptions tend to come in bunches. A year ago, he had six total — four of which came in one game, Oct. 24 at Chicago.
“We haven’t had even opportunities to take those chances,” Hall said of this season. “That’s frustrating. You want to help your team win, you want to help make plays. You feel like if you’re not making plays or you're not doing something to help impact the game, you almost feel like you’re worthless. At some point, the plays will come.”
Rogers has noticed that out in San Francisco. It took six seasons and countless dropped balls before he did.
His three picks came in consecutive weeks. He returned the third one 31 yards for a touchdown against Tampa Bay on Oct. 9, the second touchdown of his career.
“I’m past the Redskins. I’m over them,” he said Wednesday. “I just want to go out there, have fun, play against my friends for bragging rights against them. I got no hatred toward the coaches. My mind-set already was to get out of Washington, and so they’re just our next opponent in our way of what we're trying to accomplish over here.”