With Seattle next, Washington made the right move by trading Quinton Dunbar

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Ethan Cadeaux
·3 min read
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Ron Rivera made the right move by trading Quinton Dunbar originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

The first major move that Ron Rivera made after taking over as the head coach of the Washington Football Team was when he traded disgruntled cornerback Quinton Dunbar to the Seattle Seahawks in March in exchange for a fifth-round pick.

Dunbar was coming off the best season of his career, hauling in four interceptions in just 11 games. Entering the last year of his deal -- one where his play outperformed his salary -- Dunbar wanted a new contract, and Rivera was not ready to give him one until he saw him play (the same went for Trent Williams, too, who was traded to San Francisco a month later).

On the surface at the time of the trade, it didn't seem Washington got fair value in return for a player who was one of the league's better cornerbacks last season. Sure, Dunbar having one year left on his contract brought down his value a little bit, but a third- or fourth-round pick seemed like a feasible return.

If nothing else, Rivera sent a message to his club by trading Dunbar: Either you're all in, or you're not. Dunbar clearly wasn't, and the head coach had no issues parting ways with him, even if all he got in return was a fifth-rounder.

Dunbar will face his former club on Sunday, should he be healthy enough to play, when Seattle travels to FedEx Field. The cornerback hasn't played since Week 9 but is expected to return to action this week.

If Dunbar plays, don't be surprised if Washington targets his direction a lot. That's not because the Burgundy and Gold are looking to prove anything specific or are seeking revenge, but because Dunbar simply hasn't been good in coverage this season. At all.

Out of 126 qualified cornerbacks, Dunbar has graded as the 113th best by Pro Football Focus. Of the 12 cornerbacks who have graded worse than Dunbar this season, only five of them have played more snaps than the 28-year-old.

For someone who's looking to earn a big payday, that's not going to cut it.

In free agency, Washington overhauled their cornerback unit by signing Kendall Fuller and Ronald Darby. Both have been excellent pickups. Washington currently boasts the third-best pass defense in the entire NFL.

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With the fifth-round pick Washington obtained in exchange for Dunbar, the team selected Michigan linebacker Khaleke Hudson. While the rookie has only played one defensive snap this season, he's been a core special teams player for Washington and coaches have raved about his potential, too.

By trading Dunbar when they did, Washington also didn't have to deal with the cornerback's legal issues this summer, when he and former Giants defensive back Deandre Baker were accused of armed robbery in May. Charges have been dropped for both players.

Since Rivera has taken over, Washington has changed its team name after facing serious corporate pressure, dealt with multiple sexual misconduct allegations that led to the firing of multiple former staffers, and currently has an investigation going on about the workplace culture. Having to deal with Dunbar's troubles would have been another headache.

At 28, Dunbar still has multiple years of football ahead of him. Who knows, he could still earn a nice payday this offseason, depending on how he performs down the stretch.

But between his off-the-field troubles, his declining play and his inability to stay healthy, Dunbar has not given the Seattle defense the lift they were hoping for. Seattle's pass defense is among the worst in the league, despite acquiring Dunbar and Jamal Adams to bolster the secondary this season.

Washington is riding a four-game winning streak entering this Sunday's matchup against Seattle, and Rivera is pressing all the right buttons. In reality, though, the head coach has been pushing almost all the right buttons since he took over, with the Dunbar trade another example of just that.