Over the past few weeks, Insiders Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler have taken one more look at the Redskins’ depth chart, position-by-position, as the team prepares to head to Richmond for training camp. Some battles figure to be straightforward. Others could get complicated. This much, however, cannot be debated: A player is not on the 53-man roster until its finalized Sept. 5. So who’s in? And who’s in jeopardy? Up today …
Position: Free safety.
On the roster: Dashon Goldson, Trenton Robinson and Kyshoen Jarrett.
Likely to make the 53: Goldson and either Robinson or Jarrett.
Comment: Did the Redskins get the Dashon Goldson who earned Pro Bowl berths in 2011 and 2012? Or did they get the veteran that ProFootballFocus.com ranked as the second worst safety in football in 2014? (Interestingly enough, the only safety PFF ranked lower was Ryan Clark, the man Goldson is expected to replace.)
If the Redskins got the former, it could turn out to be GM Scot McCloughan’s shrewdest offseason move. If they got the latter, well, they’ll be looking for a starting free safety next offseason. Once again.
It’s far too early to know for sure which Goldson they got in the low-risk trade with the Bucs that also included swap of draft picks. But the early indications are encouraging. The 30-year-old worked as the first team free safety all offseason, and that’s not expected to change between now and Week 1.
“He’s an experienced guy [and] he’s tough,” Coach Jay Gruden said recently of the 6 foot 2, 200-pound ninth-year pro, who has a reputation for big hits. “He had some great seasons at San Francisco, went to Tampa Bay, might have been a little disappointing down there, I don’t know. But based on his tape and his career production, we thought it was worth it to go try to get him. Scot McCloughan did a great job to get the deal done and we’re glad we got him. [He] brings more experience, toughness to the secondary that we need.”
Assuming Goldson stays healthy and productive, he probably won’t come off the field much in 2015.
Battling for a job: Robinson and Jarrett.
Comment: Barring something unforeseen, Goldson will be the starter against the Dolphins.
After that, it gets a little murky.
Jeron Johnson and Duke Ihenacho are competing for the starting strong safety job. Johnson, however, also saw some snaps at free safety during a few of the OTA and minicamp practices that were open to reporters. Robinson and rookie Kyshoen Jarrett often worked as the second and third string free safeties, respectively, while veterans Phillip Thomas and Akeem Davis are able to play both positions.
Here’s the bottom line: the Redskins will likely keep five safeties on the 53-man roster this season. Goldson, Johnson and Ihenacho are the top three entering training camp, leaving two spots up for backups who figure to see considerably more playing time on special teams than on defense. Last season, those players were Robinson and Davis.
Can Thomas or Jarrett squeeze their way past someone in front of them on the depth chart? We'll find out soon. The competition for backup roles begins in earnest in about three weeks.
Redskins position previews 2015: