Who’s Coming Back: Safeties

Previously:  Defensive TacklesDefensive EndsInside Linebackers, Cornerbacks

This is the last 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 Safeties.

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

Holy Lock To Come Back Next Year:

Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images

DJ: He’s willing to make linebacker fills versus the run, has the range to play deep safety and is able to rob underneath routes. Man to man coverage is the one gadget missing from his toolkit.

Montae Nicholson: Wowed immediately with his range as a deep safety but was not prepared for most of the season to play in the box or in man coverage, which put DJ in a compromised position as the man-coverage safety.

When we tried to use Nicholson in man coverage he looked clumsy:

He went on concussion protocol after the Saints game and wasn’t able to iron out that issue.  If he can get it fixed by next season the starting FS job is his.

Will Most Likely Return Next Year:

Everett: Plays a press technique over Tight Ends which puts him in the trenches versus the run and keeps DJ out of man coverage:

Everett is a restricted FA this offseason.  PFF ranks him as the 73rd best safety in the NFL and the equivalently ranked contract pays $1.1 million per year which is about double what we could pay a rookie.  However, Everett has been serviceable in man coverage and his willingness to play in the box keeps DJ as the deep safety which helps to hide his flaws.  I would expect us to shell out the cash to keep Everett if it averages within the $1-2 million per year range.

50/50:

Cravens:  I’m throwing him in this category because I have no idea what is going on here. I’m not sure if he can get another chance or if he even wants one.  He is scheduled to make $1.2 million next year and if he was to be let go under normal circumstances he would count $700,000 against the cap.

Best of Luck In Your Future Endeavors:

DHall:  Takes horrible angles to the ball, lacks the speed required to play in the NFL, most coverage busts over the last two years have come with him on the field. Reputed to be a nice guy and has a cool beard.

Fish Smithson: Practice squad guy.  Gruden mentioned him as an option at safety in a recent press conference, but if he couldn’t pass DHall on the depth chart then there is a serious deficiency somewhere.  The only thing DHall could have had over him is knowing the calls.  Smithson is probably due for an Adderall infused offseason of digesting the playbook.

Who’s Coming Back: Cornerbacks

Previously:  Defensive TacklesDefensive Ends, Inside Linebackers

This is the fourth 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 Cornerbacks.

Washington kept six Cornerbacks 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:

Josh Norman: I’m going out on a limb with this one you guys.  He’ll be our highest paid player in 2018 and deservedly so.  Can play any Corner position.

Kendall Fuller: The ninth ranked Cornerback in the NFL according to PFF is slated to make just $827,000 next year.  Currently plays in the slot against 11 personnel but can also play Safety if needed.  Blows up any and all WR screens and can take away the deep throw.  He’s a do it all shut down Corner.

Will Most Likely Return Next Year:

Quinton Dunbar: Splits time with Breeland as the outside CB opposite Norman.  Has the speed and confidence to press WRs at the line and play trail technique on deep routes:

His aggressive style disrupts routes enough that QBs tend to come off and look elsewhere.  Horrible at stopping the run, possibly the worst on the team.  He was a developmental prospect that now has the skills to play Cover 2 flat and Cover 3 press-and-trail technique.

He is at the end of his rookie contract and made less than half of what Breeland did even though PFF has him ranked 23 spots higher as the 34th overall CB.

Fabian Moreau: Backup outside CB.  The third round rookie is slated to make under $800,000 next season.

50/50:

Joshua Holsey: A seventh round rookie who backs up Fuller in the slot.  He could be replaced with an offseason acquisition or he could start as our Nickel CB if we move Fuller outside; both moves would make sense.  He is set to make $575,000 in 2018.

Bashaud Breeland: Made his name off of Dez Bryant and was one of the hottest young Corners until he ran into Antonio Brown.  Since then he’s been ok to good but not Shutdown level.  Doesn’t possess the fastest straight line speed and plays with a big cushion in Cover 3 because of it.  His technique is the polar opposite of Dunbar’s and QBs tend to throw his way often.  He has the ability to come off of his receiver and rob routes.  Not a good run defender but will occasionally stick his nose there.

Breeland made $2 million this year and is due for a new contract.  He is ranked as the 57th overall Cornerback according to PFF and the 57th ranked contract for CBs is $2.2 million (Bradley Roby) so I would expect a fair deal for 2018 to be in the ballpark of $2-2.5 million.  How they negotiate past that will decide whether or not he comes back.

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.

Who’s Coming Back: Defensive Ends/Outside Linebackers

Previously: Defensive Tackles

This is the second 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 defensive ends (in our system they also double as outside linebackers.)

Washington kept six defensive ends 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:

Kerrigan: The only thing that would cause the team to part ways with Kerrigan is his base salary.  In 2018 it will be $9 million and then it goes up to $10.5 million in 2019 and $11.5 million in 2020.  His guarantees work to about $7 million against the cap next year so any initial discussions about a departure won’t happen until 2019.

Smith: He’s been quiet the last few weeks, but a low cap number plus his overall body of work places him as a safe bet to get at least a share of starter snaps.

Anderson: Has an easy to digest rookie contract and continues to pack on strength.  His initial role seems to be a rotational player that sets the edge against the run.

Will Most Likely Return Next Year:

Murphy: On IR, obviously his future depends on how well he heals.  His ability to stop the run was a plus.  If he shows the capacity to recreate his nine sack effort from 2016 he becomes a holy lock to come back.

50/50:

Galette: He has gotten a couple of nice pressures over the previous two weeks but his overall body of work is wanting.  His best attribute is his low base salary.  If we skip on bringing in a high dollar FA and forgo drafting an edge rusher, I could see Galette sneaking back on the roster with another short term contract that pays close to the veteran minimum.

Pete Robertson: Just signed a three year deal for $1.5 million last month.  It’s a small cap hit if we cut him but his contract firmly slots him as a special teams guy.

Best of Luck In Your Future Endeavors:

Chris Carter: Gruden went out of his way to praise his special teams contributions but he only has a one year deal and is the first man out if we make any offseason acquisitions.   If Murphy can heal and we bring back Galette his circumstances are not favorable for a return.

Who’s Coming Back: Defensive Tackles

This is the first part of a series that lists who will make our 53-man roster next year.  This is one blogger’s opinion born from having watched and charted almost every snap this season.

Washington kept seven defensive tackles on the roster so that’s the amount I’m assuming we keep for next year.  I’m also assuming injuries revert back to normal because we are good fans and good fans deserve normal things.

Holy Lock To Come Back Next Year:

  • Allen
  • Ion
  • McGee: The only player signed through 2021 along with Morgan Moses and Jordan Reed. Can get under tackles and take on double team blocks from Tackles and Tight Ends.
  • McClain: His performance dictates he should be let go but because of his contract he will be back in 2018.  Not the case for 2019 when the opt-out kicks in; if he performs comparable to this year he will likely be gone.

Will Most Likely Return Next Year:

  • Hood: Quick up front.  He had a strong showing in November against the Saints, Vikings and Giants.  He showed an uncanny ability to close down gaps on zone runs:

The main chinks in his armor were his early season struggles and stopping the run against Dallas.  His salary will be $1.4 million against the cap next year which is a bargain for his role as a rotation piece that could play 15-20 snaps per game and start when injuries require him to do so.

50/50:

If Hood comes back and we pick up an interior lineman in the offseason, at least one of the following guys should be gone.

  • Lanier: He is a liability against the run which should disqualify him but he is the only one that can generate interior pressure other than Allen and Ion.
  • AJ Francis: Stout against the run which makes him my choice to return next season. Non-existent versus pass.

Best of Luck In Your Future Endeavors:

  • Arthur Jones: An emergency signing to fill in for the Seattle game where he charted a -3 prior to winding up on IR.  He was our first choice in the case of an emergency but his body appears to be near Mr. Glass on the injury spectrum.
  • Caraun Reid: A fifth round draft pick that was waived twice by the Lions and Chargers and has done nothing since coming here.  He was passed over by emergency fill-ins and his contract expires at the end of this season.
  • Phil Taylor: By the start of next season he will have not played a meaningful snap in almost four years.  He is signed to a one year deal and is healing from a quadricep injury while pushing close to 350 pounds.  Unless we refuse to invest in anyone else I don’t see a spot for him on our roster.
  • Ondre Pipkins: The former Michigan and Texas Tech product found a home on our practice squad this season.  It’s not a good look that he’s been passed over by multiple emergency fill-ins.  His best case scenario for 2018 is looking like the PS again with a shot to start if injuries take a similar toll on our roster.