Aug 11, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Washington Redskins strong safety DeAngelo Hall (23) in action against the Atlanta Falcons in the first quarter at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
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The Washington Redskins have a big hole at the safety position. Here is a look at some of the players that they could target in free agency to fill the void.
Ever since the untimely passing of Sean Taylor, the Washington Redskins have had troubles at the safety position. They have never been able to find a truly dynamic player despite their best efforts. Last season was no different, as they cycled through five or six different starters over the course of a 16 game season. The Redskins need to get safety help in the offseason, and the free agent market may help them out.
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The 2017 crop of free agents is pretty good, and there are some young safeties on the market that could help the Redskins. Not all of them will come cheap, but if the Redskins want a major upgrade, they could choose to spend big at that position.
With that in mind, here is a look at how the Redskins may look to address their need at safety in the offseason. Here are some of their potential top targets.
Dec 12, 2016; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots free safety Duron Harmon (30) waits for the snap against the Baltimore Ravens during the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Bargain Bin: Duron Harmon
Duron Harmon was widely considered a reach when the New England Patriots selected him in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft. However, in the years since coming into the league, he has steadily developed into a solid player and is likely to look for a starting job in the coming years.
Since the Patriots already have Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung at safety, they may elect not to re-sign Harmon if he asks for too much money. That said, Harmon’s lack of starting experience (12 games started over four years) will drive his value down as teams look into signing him. For this reason, he qualifies as a potential high upside bargain.
The Redskins have to be interested in a player like Harmon. They have had so many issues at the safety position over the past decade, and a high upside guy like Harmon could really help them. They could give Harmon a chance to start with Su’a Cravens and create a nice tandem. If the Redskins find themselves looking for cheaper options at the safety position, Harmon certainly would fit the bill.
Dec 4, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Washington Redskins running back Robert Kelley (32) is tackled by Arizona Cardinals safety Tony Jefferson (22) at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Redskins 31-23. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Young Talent: Tony Jefferson
Since coming into the league as an undrafted free agent, Tony Jefferson has developed into one of the better safeties in the league. For the Arizona Cardinals last year, Jefferson was one of their best defenders. He has the versatility to play both safety spots, the linebacker position, and a little nickel back if necessary.
In 2016, Jefferson was able to establish himself as a terrific tackler, logging a total of 92 throughout the course of the season. He has great instincts when breaking towards the ball carrier, and that would greatly help the Redskins woeful run defense.
The only real knock on Jefferson is that he does not have the greatest ball skills. He has only defended 11 total passes in his four year career and has two interceptions. Those are not bad numbers, but he just simply is not a ballhawk. He will hold up fine in coverage, but whichever team signs him needs to know that he is a hard-nosed tackling machine, not a playmaker.
Jefferson will likely command a good amount of money, but he should still be affordable for the Redskins. He just turned 25 in late January, so he could still have some time to improve and develop into a really great safety with the Redskins.
Jan 15, 2017; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs strong safety Eric Berry (29) reacts to a play during the first half in the AFC Divisional playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Arrowhead Stadium. The Steelers won 18-16. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
High Price Talent: Eric Berry
There is no doubt that Eric Berry is one of the best defensive players in the NFL. He was a big time leader for the Kansas City Chiefs defense last season, and he really helped to get them to the postseason. I talked about the merits of adding Berry in a piece about the Chiefs free agents from last week:
Berry is arguably the best safety in the league. After surviving cancer, Berry has had an unbelievable comeback and has put together a couple of terrific seasons with the Chiefs. He was a Pro Bowler in 2015 and 2016, and he was a defensive catalyst for the team this past year. He really is a transcendent player and at age 28, he is still very much in his prime.
The fact that Berry is in his prime means that he is going to command a hefty deal. He has already told the Chiefs that he will not play the season on the franchise tag, so the pressure is on the cap-strapped team to figure out a way to fit him into the budget. If they cannot do that, the Redskins could dole out a lot of money to bring Berry in as a big piece in their secondary.
If the Redskins could land Berry, that would be huge for their offseason. He and Josh Norman would be a dynamic duo and it would allow the Redskins to address their other defensive deficiencies in the draft.
Jan 8, 2017; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers defensive back Micah Hyde (33) celebrates a play during the game against the New York Giants at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Dark Horse: Micah Hyde
Micah Hyde may be one of my favorite players in the NFL. Hyde is a versatile defensive back for the Green Bay Packers who seemingly plays every position. He has seen action at both safety spots, the corner positions, nickel back, and he is one of the league’s best return men. Hyde is a football player by trade, and his versatility is a huge weapon.
Given that the Redskins have so many needs on their defense, it would be really nice for them to be able to add a player like Hyde. Granted, he may not have a definitive position, but that could be an advantage for the Redskins. They can figure out what their bigger weakness is between safety and corner after the offseason if they add Hyde. Since he can play any position, they would be free to draft the best players on the board. They will not have to reach based off of positional need.
It also helps that Hyde is the type of guy who leads by example. He always is playing hard when on the field, and he never takes a play off. The Redskins defense could use a guy with that sort of boundless energy. Hyde may be an under the radar type player, but do not be surprised if Scot McCloughan goes after him in the offseason, provided that the Packers do not re-sign him.