Looking at the way things stand right now, the performance of the 2016 Redskins’ defense may be the difference between them being a middle of the pack team and a playoff threat. They took a couple of steps towards improving that defense on Tuesday.
In the afternoon, they signed safety David Bruton, formerly of the Denver Broncos. Bruton, who will turn 29 before training camp starts and has just eight NFL starts in seven years in the league, is not the long-term solution at safety that the Redskins have been searching for since losing Sean Taylor in 2007. But he played almost 500 snaps for a championship defense last year and he certainly can lend a hand to the Redskins’ safety unit.
Assuming the safety group stays the same, it’s possible that Bruton will start and play alongside DeAngelo Hall. We could also see Duke Ihenacho starting and Bruton playing a substantial amount coming off of the bench.
Bruton was the Broncos’ special teams captain each of the last three years and he certainly will contribute there. Better special teams means better field position and that benefits the defense as well.
Quarterback sacks also help field position and the defense and getting those will be the job of Junior Galette, who agreed to a one-year deal last night. Everyone knows about the combined 22 sacks he racked up for the Saints in 2013-2014, the last two years he played. What gets overlooked is his playmaking ability—in those two years he also had four passes defensed, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and was credited with two safeties.
If he can add that kind of playmaking ability to the Redskins’ defense they could get closer to being the kind of unit needed to make a deep playoff run.
In the big picture, this adds to an interesting scenario for the team this year. It is said that players are at their best when they are in a contract year. Among the players who will play on either one-year deals or on the last year of multi-year contracts in 2016 are Galette, Kirk Cousins, Jordan Reed, Pierre Garçon, DeSean Jackson, and Chris Baker.