Redskins stay or go: Safety Brandon Meriweather

Redskins stay or go: Safety Brandon Meriweather
February 26, 2014, 11:00 am
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Jay Gruden getting used to being in charge

Tandler - Tarik

With 20 Redskins set to hit the open market in a few weeks, GM Bruce Allen and his staff have some tough decisions to make. There are some big names on the list (i.e. Brian Orakpo, Brandon Meriweather and Perry Riley, to name a few). There are some obscure ones (like J.D. Walton) as well. All of the decisions, though, have the potential to have a lasting impact. In the coming days, Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and Tarik El-Bashir will give you their thoughts on who should stay and who should go.

Position/name: S/Brandon Meriweather
Age: 30
2013 cap number: $1.58 million
2013 stats: 53 tackles, 2 interceptions, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble

Background: A year ago, Jim Haslett spent the offseason telling anyone who would listen that he was looking forward to seeing the Meriweather who was a dynamic force in his one and only appearance during the 2012 season, a November game against the Eagles. Health was a problem all of that season. He was reasonably healthy last year but his play wasn’t all that impressive. Meriweather was a major contributor to the plague of missed tackles that hit the team; he had 16 misses, second most on the team. And when he was making tackles, he was sometimes drawing flags. Two penalties for illegal hits in Week 7 against the Bears cost him a one-game suspension the following week.

Tandler: Go—This year, Haslett does not seem to be very excited about the prospect of Meriweather returning. Last month when he gave the names of defensive free agents he’d like to have back, Meriweather was not among them. The Redskins signed him in 2012 when they were in need of a safety and restricted by the NFL’s sudden imposition of an $18 million salary cap penalty. They are no longer under the cap restriction and they should be able to afford someone better than Rotoworld’s 22nd-ranked safety. They shouldn’t spend huge money on someone like T. J. Ward of the Browns but someone like the Panthers’ Mike Mitchell or the Saints’ Malcolm Jenkins. Or, perhaps they could look in the draft for a long-term solution like Calvin Pryor of Louisville.

El-Bashir: Stay—I agree that Meriweather wasn’t a consistent enough difference-maker in 2013. But I’m willing to cut him some slack because of the rash of injuries he’s had to overcome, including ACL surgery in 2012. If the Redskins are convinced that he’s 100-percent, I believe they’d be wise to bring him back on a one-year deal for a couple of reasons: First, Meriweather plays hard and brings a much needed old school edge to the defense. Second, considering all the uncertainty at the position, the 30-year-old would buy GM Bruce Allen and Coach Jay Gruden another year to figure out what they’ve got in Phillip Thomas, who missed his rookie season with a Lisfranc injury, and Bacarri Rambo, who saw his share of struggles last year. T.J. Ward or Jairus Byrd would be significant upgrades, of course. But $30 million in cap space doesn’t go as far as you might think, particularly when you consider they’ve already committed to DeAngelo Hall and soon will have to re-sign Brian Orakpo, Perry Riley, Chris Baker and a number of other free agents. Meriweather provides a familiar, affordable option that buys the Redskins some time to find a long-term solution.