AP NEWS

Redskins can benefit from busy safety market

March 7, 2019

The Baltimore Ravens cut veteran safety Eric Weddle earlier this week, just hours after the news that the New York Giants would not use their franchise tag on All-Pro safety Landon Collins and allow him to hit the open market.

Weddle and Collins joined a free-agent market littered with safeties old and young likely welcome news for the Washington Redskins, who are thinner at safety than at almost any other position.

Remember how 2018 ended: D.J. Swearinger a 27-year-old Pro Bowl alternate was cut before Week 17 after criticizing the coaching staff and its decisions one time too many.

The Redskins also traded for Ha Ha Clinton-Dix from Green Bay at the deadline last October, but he did not have much of an impact and his contract is now expiring. Its doubtful he will be back.

That leaves Washington with Deshazor Everett, Troy Apke and Montae Nicholson. Washington liked Apke enough to use a fourth-round draft pick on him last year, but he missed most of the year with a hamstring injury. And Nicholson, who began the season as a starter but lost that role, was arrested in December on assault charges.

In short, it wouldnt be hard to upgrade this unit.

Collins, 25, could prove to be the prize of the safety market. He was a first-team All-Pro in his second NFL season and, at his age, he has his career in front of him. But that likely will come with an expensive price tag, and the Redskins dont have much wiggle room with $16.97 million in cap space, according to overthecap.com.

In the same category as Collins are Earl Thomas and Tyrann Mathieu. Thomas, 29, was a perennial All-Pro during the heyday of Seattles Legion of Boom, but his time with the Seahawks came to a messy end last year when he broke his leg just weeks after ending his holdout.

At 26, Mathieu is a bit younger than Thomas. The player known as the Honey Badger in college set career-best marks in tackles and sacks for Houston last year, making the most of his one-year deal there and ensuring a bigger payday to come.

If the Redskins cant sign someone at that level, the free agent list doesnt end there. Weddle would only need to take a short trip down I-95 to join Washington. It came as a surprise that the Ravens cut him because of his presence in their locker room, but at 34 years old hes lost some of his athleticism and productivity.

Johnathan Cyprien (28 years old) from Tennessee who missed 2018 with an ACL tear and Glover Quin (33) from Detroit represent even more options.

The Redskins can use upgrades at both strong safety, focused more on stopping the run, and free safety, the defensive backfields last line of coverage. But several of these free agents have played both during their careers which ultimately means the Redskins have a wealth of options when free agency begins March 13.