Who’s Coming Back: Inside Linebackers

Previously:  Defensive Tackles, Defensive Ends

This is the third part of a series in which I list who will make our 53-man roster next year. Having watched and charted almost every snap this season I feel somewhat qualified to blog an amateur opinion on the matter. Today’s position group is Inside Linebackers.

Washington kept four Inside Linebackers on their roster this season so that’s the number I’m assuming we will keep for next year.

Holy Lock To Come Back Next Year:

Spaight: Can play all three downs, had tackling issues early but seems to have overcome those.  Even if Brown and Foster come back his experience and knowledge of Manusky’s defense should guarantee him a spot on the depth chart.  He only counts $764,000 against the cap.

Josh Harvey-Clemons: [EDIT:  After reviewing the Cowboys game I’m going to have to bump him down to ‘Most Likely’]  A college safety that has freakish size and speed.  A project player who is currently relegated to late passing downs and has the ability to blitz.  He has 3 years remaining on his rookie contract and only counts $576,000 against the cap.

He’s behind Zach Vigil in playing time but long term I figure the coaches would rather teach a coverage guy to fit gaps than teach a gap fitter—like Vigil and Compton—coverages.  You can coach reads but not speed.

Will Most Likely Return Next Year:

Zach Brown (Resigning Zach Brown): The only thing standing between Brown and ‘Holy Lock’ status is his agent. Manusky schemed the entire run defense around Brown.

Brown also showed that he is the only guy in our front seven with the instincts and speed to chase down a mobile NFL Quarterback.

50/50:

If we don’t make an offseason acquisition, then one of the following,

Zach Vigil: Used on early run downs; a younger stronger version of Compton.  Unfortunately has Kerrigan type speed in coverage.

Will Compton: Knows the playbook inside out. Quintessential locker room leader. Excels at absorbing blockers and creating a path for Brown.

Compton’s serious downsides include lack of strength, pass coverage and inability to get off of blocks. His 2017 salary was almost $2 million, we could outfit a full two-deep around Zach Brown with that kind of cash. Even if he takes a pay cut we would still have younger, faster, stronger and cheaper options. He’s closer to 30/70 than 50/50, but he put on a clinic in that Seattle game and that’s preventing me from slotting him in the section below. I’d be surprised but not shocked if he stayed.

Mason Foster: If he’s healthy I think he comes back.  There are some rumblings about his Tweetstorm offending the FO guys, but he might be the best all around linebacker we have.

Best of Luck In Your Future Endeavors:

Otha Peters: Signed to the practice squad last month after Compton went to IR.  Hasn’t seen the field and lots of young guys are ahead of him which doesn’t bode well for his chances.  Might be able to hang onto a PS spot.

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