ASHBURN -- The news broke moments after Landon Collins revealed a smidgen of information on his injured shoulder – and a fellow safety he hoped would become his teammate once again.
Collins became the seventh former player from the University of Alabama on the Redskins roster when he agreed this week to a 6-year, $84 million contract. Washington re-signing Ha Ha Clinton-Dix would make it eight and reunite the former Crimson Tide safety tag-team.
"I talked to Ha Ha today,” Collins told a small group of reporters near the end of an emotional first day at Redskins Park. “I don't know what he's going to do right now. I just tell him that we want him here. He's visiting Chicago right now, so we'll see what he's going to do with that. But we want him here."
The Bears also wanted Clinton-Dix. He never made it out of Chicago. The two sides agreed to a contract Thursday afternoon.
Doug Williams stood a few feet away from where Collins held court when he heard Clinton-Dix made a decision. For a moment, his eyes showed surprise and at least a tinge of disappointment.
The Redskins senior vice president of player personnel quickly recovered.
“You’ve got to keep working, go forward,” Williams said. “You can’t put on brakes. You got to go find players.”
In terms of a starter, that likely means adding a free agent or targeting a safety in the early rounds of the 2019 NFL Draft.
Williams provided updates on two in-house options, though both are more about depth for now.
Monte Nicholson opened the 2018 season as Washington’s starting free safety. Midway through the year, Nicholson went to the bench after the Redskins acquired Clinton-Dix from the Packers for a 2019 fourth-round choice. Nicholson’s year ended two weeks early following assault charges.
“We want Montae back. No matter who we sign we still want Montae,” Williams said. “It’s up to him. He’s got to get himself together. He’s doing that. We hope when the time comes he’s there.”
The Redskins drafted Troy Apke in the fourth round last season but received virtually nothing initially for their investment. The Penn State product only played in two games before a lingering hamstring sidelined him and eventually put Apke on injured reserve.
Williams said Apke remains in the team’s plans as they consider an overall safety plan.
“Oh, yeah. His [hamstring] is a lot better,” Williams said. “He was running when he was here. Apke is a big part of it.”
Collins underwent surgery in December for a partially torn labrum that cost the ex-Giant the final four games of the season.
Asked for an update, Collins said in the same breath “I’m way ahead” of the original 4-6 month recovery timeline and “It's definitely on schedule." As to whether that means he would be ready for any work in the spring, Collins said, “I don't know. I don't know yet.”
What’s clear is Collins provides the secondary with another weapon. The Redskins need more at safety. Maybe that help comes before the weekend or next week or later. Williams plans on practicing patience despite losing Clinton-Dix.
“You’re going to miss people anyway. There’s a whole lot of folks we missed out on already. Every team misses out on people,” Williams said. “I wish we could get everything we want. We’ve still got time. Free agency is not over until it’s over. There’s post-June (1) cuts, the draft. You just have to wait and see what falls your way. If there’s a guy you like and want, make a push at him.”
The Redskins hold the 15th and 46th overall selections. Safety in the first round seems unlikely this year, but several options are projected in the 30-46 range including Delaware’ Nassir Adderley, Washington’s Taylor Rapp and Alabama’s Deionte Thompson.
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