Redskins' needs analysis: Safety

Redskins' needs analysis: Safety
March 7, 2014, 1:30 pm
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If you’ve read any Redskins related articles lately, you’ve no doubt encountered the phrase “lots of needs to address.” Indeed, the team has many holes, ranging from wide receiver to punter, that it must fill between the start of free agency on March 11 and Week 1 in September.

In the coming days, Redskins Insiders Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will indentify those needs and present various ways the team can fill them.

Position: Safety

On the roster: Phillip Thomas, Bacarri Rambo, Jose Gumbs and Trenton Robinson. Thomas showed promise last summer before suffering a season-ending Lisfranc injury in the preseason. Considering the lengthy recovery involved and the missed playing time, it would be too risky to count on him as a starter in 2014. Rambo got his opportunity, starting the first two games, but poor tackling relegated the rookie to the bench. Can he improve? Sure. But considering how badly he struggled last season—he did not play on defense at all in seven games—he’s a long way from starter material. Gumbs, who re-signed this week, and Robinson are special teamers who can also provide some depth.

Pending free agents: Brandon Meriweather and Reed Doughty. Due to injury and suspension, Meriweather has appeared in only 14 out of 32 regular season games for the Redskins and 25 out of 48 dating back to the 2011 season. The 30-year-old has proven that he can be a different maker when he’s on the field. But has he been consistent/available enough to warrant an extension? A strong argument can be made against bringing him back. Doughty, meantime, is a good reserve and a solid special teamer. He told CSNWashington.com on Thursday that he’s had discussions with the Redskins about an extension but expects to hit the market March 11.

Free agent possibilities: As we mentioned in our Free Agent Fits series, Buffalo's Jairus Byrd and Cleveland's T.J. Ward are the best options expected to hit the market. But because the Redskins chose to franchise Brian Orakpo and have so many other holes to fill, the cost of signing Byrd or Ward might be too expensive. We’re also going to stand by the “best fit” we suggested three weeks ago – 28-year-old Chris Clemons of the Dolphins. Clemons is an affordable and reliable type who could provide a bridge to Thomas and/or Rambo. Some others the Redskins might eye: Carolina’s Mike Mitchell, San Francisco’s Donte Whitner and Indianapolis’ Antoine Bethea and Louis Delmas, formerly of Detroit.

Draft possibilities: Northern Illinois’ Jimmie Ward stood out from the crowd at the Senior Bowl and told CSNWashington.com that his interview with the Redskins was memorable because of the number of front office members who attended. According to NFLDraftscout.com, the next group of prospects available after the first round includes Louisville’s Calvin Pryor, Florida State’s Terrence Brooks, Washington State’s Deone Bucannon, LSU’s Craig Loston, Baylor’s Ahmad Dixon and USC’s Dion Bailey. Considering that safety has been, and still is, a major need for the Redskins, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the team spends another pick at the position, just a year after using fourth round and sixth round selections on safeties.

Prediction: After inside linebacker, this is arguably the Redskins’ most pressing need this offseason. And because Thomas and Rambo can’t be penciled in as starters, the time is now to sign a quality free agent -- or even two -- depending on Meriweather, who could be an option to return for the right price.

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