WASHINGTON — The Redskins pushed to fill a void at safety on Thursday by signing hard-hitting free agent D.J. Swearinger to a three-year contract worth $4.5 million per year, a source told 106.7 The Fan.
Swearinger has played for three teams in four years, but he is still just 25. He started 12 games for Arizona in 2016 and played in all 16. Swearinger finished with 66 tackles, eight passes defended, two sacks and three interceptions.
Drafted by Houston in 2013, Swearinger lasted just two years there. He played a lot. The Texans just weren’t convinced he was willing to play within a team structure. Fair or not, they tried to trade him and then released him. Swearinger played one year in Tampa Bay, appearing in just seven games, before landing in Arizona, where he found a home and a role.
Safety has been a difficult spot for the Redskins to fix. Washington has taken to converting veteran corners there in recent years – DeAngelo Hall, Will Blackmon – and its free-agent signings haven’t panned out (Duke Ihenacho, Jeron Johnson). That left them relying on players brought off the street (Donte Whitner), who were no longer impact talents.
There was talk of pushing Su’a Cravens from his dime linebacker role to safety in his second season. That might help, too. But Swearinger is more of an in-the-box tackler at 5-foot-10, 205 pounds and that could help the Redskins improve their run defense.
Swearinger was a second-round pick by Houston in 2013 after playing college football at South Carolina. He’s from Greenwood, SC – the same hometown as Redskins cornerback Josh Norman.
There’s some overlap here. Cravens and Swearinger seem best suited to strong safety. Blackmon and Hall – if he remains with the team – would be best suited to free safety. But Cravens can again be used as a hybrid with experience now at multiple linebacker spots. Most important – there are finally younger safeties on board. This shouldn’t even preclude Washington from drafting one in April.
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