The Redskins have avoided the restricted free agent tender process with safety Deshazor Everett by signing him to a multi-year deal. They still have some work to do at the safety position. Or maybe they don’t.
Everett’s role likely will be as a backup and special teams type player. However, he was supposed to have the same role last year and he ended up starting eight games and playing more snaps than any safety other than D.J. Swearinger. His expanded role was a result of injuries suffered by Montae Nicholson and DeAngelo Hall.
Hall is likely to retire and, in any case, he won’t be back with the Redskins. Nicholson is on the mend from a shoulder injury and a concussion that limited him to eight games. Jay Gruden has said that having Nicholson available in 2018 is as important to the defense as Jordan Reed is to the offense. His range and closing ability are special and the defense could rise or fall in 2018 based in large part on his ability to stay on the field.
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The wild card on the depth chart here is Su’a Cravens. Last week there was talk that a trade of Cravens to the Broncos could be imminent. We’re not sure if the deal fell through or if negotiations are still taking place, but for the time being he remains on the roster.
The Redskins have to decide if they are determined to trade Cravens for whatever they can get and cut him if they can’t make a deal or if they will keep him on the roster. If they keep him, they are in good shape at safety. Swearinger played well last year and if you believe Gruden, Nicholson is a potential Pro Bowler. Cravens was still learning the position last year when he was injured during the first preseason game and then left the team a week before the season started. With Cravens, they could throw a number of three-safety looks at the opposition and an area that was a chronic weakness for years, could turn into a strength.
But that may not be possible. There has to be trust among the players and coaches and the organization and Cravens leaving with the season a week away may have created an irreparable breach. If they do move on from Cravens, they will have to figure out if they are comfortable with Everett as their third safety, especially in light of Nicholson’s durability issues.
As usual, the free agent market at safety is very thin. It’s hard to get a guy in the draft and be sure he can be your third safety. What it boils down to is that the Redskins likely will need to hope that Nicholson stays mostly healthy and the Everett takes another step forward in his third season at safety.
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