With all of the focus Thursday on the Redskins trying to sign cornerback Antoine Winfield (with an assist from RG3) and the Bills trying to sign away tight end Fred Davis, (who ultimately stayed in Washington) the signing of defensive end Darryl Tapp came out of the blue.
The Redskins announced the signing shortly after media reports of the deal came out and they introduced him as a linebacker. He will stand up and convert to an outside linebacker in the Redskins’ 3-4 defensive scheme. Tapp, who is 28 and headed into his eighth NFL season, has played in a 4-3 his entire career.
Tapp is a potential replacement for Chris Wilson, who played last year as a pass rush specialist and special teamer. The Redskins hope that if he fills that role he will be able to post more than the half sack that Wilson posted in 2012. That may be a leap of faith, however, as Tapp posted just half a sack playing 257 defensive snaps for the Eagles last year.
There could be opportunities for Tapp to prove his worth early in the season. Outside linebacker Rob Jackson will be suspended for the first four games of next season and Tapp could get some action taking his snaps. Right outside linebacker starter Brian Orakpo is recovering from a torn pectoral muscle and while he should be good to go by the time the season starts, Tapp should get some substantial time to learn the position during OTA’s and training camp.
It would not be surprising if Tapp had to fight off a draft pick in order to make the team. Tapp signed a one-year deal and four other top linebackers—Jackson, Orakpo, London Fletcher, and Perry Riley—also are slated to be free agents in 2014. Although the team would like to bring back most of those free agents to be they might draft a linebacker or two as insurance in case they can’t.