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DJ Swearinger feels like he's in position, literally, to solve Redskins' safety issues

DJ Swearinger feels like he's in position, literally, to solve Redskins' safety issues

DJ Swearinger signed with the Redskins back in early March, but the former Cardinals safety had a feeling he'd end up in Burgundy and Gold long before that.

"Last year for sure, me and my guy Tony Jefferson was looking at this roster like, 'For sure, one of us going to the Washington Redskins,'" Swearinger said Wednesday after finishing another offseason practice in Ashburn. "It just happened to be me. I told him I wanted to come here."

When watching a few games worth of film of the Redskins defense last year, the two players saw plenty of issues in the back end of the secondary, according to Swearinger. The tape showed the same missed tackles and errors in pass coverage that Redskins fans have become accustomed to from the team's safeties since football was invented for the past decade or so.

Coming into this season, the 25-year-old understands Washington's longstanding problem in the defensive backfield. He also thinks he can be the player to end it.

"I'm definitely aware of it," Swearinger said. "I'm looking forward to just playing my game, doing the things that have gotten me here, being the best pro and best teammate I can be, and I can for sure be that guy." 


Coach Jay Gruden sounds confident in the veteran, too, even though he's already on his fourth NFL team since being drafted in 2013.

"DJ has been great," Gruden said. "He’s been to every meeting, every practice and practices hard. He's got a great attitude for the position. You can tell he's got a mindset to play safety. He can do a little bit of everything."

So, why does Swearinger believe that he'll be part of the solution at safety for the Redskins, and not join the list of failed attempts that includes (but isn't limited to) names like OJ Atogwe, Bacarri Rambo, Duke Ihenacho, Brandon Meriweather, Madieu Williams, David Bruton, Reed Doughty, Ryan Clark, Chris Horton, LaRon Landry, Dashon Goldson and Jeron Johnson?

Well, in his opinion, the Redskins will be using him in a way that's similar to the way the Cardinals used him in 2016, which was the best year of his career. And that hasn't always been the case.

"In Houston, I just never got the chance to play in the middle," Swearinger said. "They played me at strong safety and played me at linebacker. So, I never had the opportunity to show off my range ability. Just last year, I got the opportunity to play free safety, something that I'm comfortable with and I was able to show my range."

If Swearinger can stay comfortable and produce for the Redskins in 2017, then opposing offenses will feel uncomfortable and — just maybe — he and Su'a Cravens will prove to be the pair that stops the never-ending rotation at the pesky spot.

There's been nothing safe about Redskins safeties for the last handful of years, but with Swearinger, at least it sounds like coaches are planning on (literally) putting him in the best position to succeed.​


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Martavis Bryant could make sense for the Redskins, at the right price


Martavis Bryant could make sense for the Redskins, at the right price

A 2017 midseason trade for Martavis Bryant made no sense for the Redskins. A 2018 offseason trade for Martavis Bryant, however, might make sense for the Redskins. 

Bryant is on the trade block, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, and will be an intriguing prospect for receiver-needy teams across the NFL. In parts of three seasons with the Steelers, Bryant has 17 touchdowns and a 15.2 yards-per-reception average. 

A big play threat from any place on the field, Bryant would immediately make the Redskins receiving unit more athletic and explosive. 

It's not all good news with Bryant, though.

He was suspended for the entire 2016 season after repeated drug violations and caused some distraction for Pittsburgh during the 2017 season when he asked for a trade via social media. 


Is the talent enough to overcome the off-field distractions? Many would say it is. 

Last year, in just eight starts, Bryant grabbed 50 catches for more than 600 yards and three TDs. In their lone playoff loss to the Jaguars, Bryant caught two passes for 78 yards and a TD. 

Remember, too, the Steelers have an explosive offense, and Bryant is coupled with Antonio Brown on the receiver front along with Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback and Le'Veon Bell at running back. The Pittsburgh offense is loaded. 

Washington's offense is not nearly the prolific unit that the Steelers send out, but Jay Gruden does design a good offense. 

The real question surrounding any talk of trading for Bryant is the cost.

The Redskins are not in a position to send away any more draft picks this offseason after giving up a third-round pick, in addition to Kendall Fuller, to acquire Alex Smith. Bruce Allen and the Redskins front office need to improve their team in plenty of spots, and the team's draft picks are quite valuable. 

Bryant only has one year remaining on his rookie deal, and it's hard to balance that sort of short-term investment with the value of adding a rookie committed to the team for at least four years. Perhaps a late-round pick would make sense, but it would need to be a sixth-rounder. 

This could be one of those rare situations in the NFL where a player for player swap could work, though pulling that type of maneuver requires a lot of moving parts. 

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Need to Know: The most overrated Redskins events of 2017

Usa Today Sports Images

Need to Know: The most overrated Redskins events of 2017

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, February 23, 19 days before NFL free agency starts.

I’m out this week so I’ll be re-posting some of the best and most popular articles of the past few months. Some may have slightly dated information but the major points in the posts still stand. Thanks for reading, as always.

The overrated Redskin moments of 2017

Originally published 12/30/17

Sometimes in the NFL, something happens that grabs headlines and appears to be a momentous event that has ripple effects that will last all season and perhaps beyond. Other times something that is greeted with a yawn by fans and the media turns out to be something with lasting impact. Yesterday we looked at three events that were underrated at the time they happened. Here, in no particular order, are three overrated events from 2017.

Beating the Raiders—At the time, the Raiders were 2-0 and they still had the status of being one of the favorites to get to the Super Bowl. The Redskins whipped them 27-10 and the prevailing view was that the Redskins were on their way to a special year. But that loss started a four-game losing streak for the Raiders. They are currently riding a three-game skid and at 6-9 they are contenders for a top-10 draft pick, not for the Super Bowl. The win became less impressive for the Redskins as the year went on.

Signing Terrelle Pryor—There was plenty of excitement when the Redskins signed the Browns wide receiver, who had 1,000 receiving yards catching passes from a sub-mediocre group of quarterbacks in Cleveland. Imagine what he could do with a quality QB and a good offense around him. The hype grew when a fan captured him making this catch in training camp:

But the production was not there. In nine games before going on injured reserve with an ankle injury, Pryor caught 20 passes for 240 yards and a touchdown.

Su’a Cravens departure—There was a lot of concern about issues both on and off the field when Cravens abruptly let it be known to teammates that he intended to retire just after the Redskins finalized their 53-man roster on September 2. All offseason Cravens’ name had been written at the top of the depth chart at strong safety in Sharpie. When he walked away and was put on the Exempt/Left Squad list (and eventually on the Reserve/Left Squad list, ending his season), there was plenty of speculation about whether the organization botched the situation and, of more immediate importance, what would happen at safety without Cravens. We’re still not sure about what happened but Montae Nicholson and Deshazor Everett did a respectable job at safety.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.


Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 6
—NFL Draft (4/26) 62
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 198