If the Redskins want to take a step forward in 2013 they are going to have to improve their pass defense. And in order to do that they need a competent NFL free safety.
They might be able to find one in the draft but you can’t go into late April hoping that you can snag a surefire starter in the second or third round. They need some insurance and they could look to a very familiar source to get it.
Pat Yasinkas of ESPN made a strong case that longtime Buc Ronde Barber could wind up in Washington. There doesn’t seem to be a spot for him in Tampa Bay as they signed Dashon Goldson as a free agent and drafted Mark Barron in the first round in 2012.
Here are some of the reasons to think that Barber and the Redskins are a good fit:
And let’s keep in mind the Redskins were a playoff team last season and look like a contender to be one next season. It’s been a while since Barber’s been on a playoff team, and that could make this scenario tempting.
There are a few other tidbits that could make Washington tempting. Former Tampa Bay coach Raheem Morris is Washington’s secondary coach. Washington general manager Bruce Allen held the same role in Tampa Bay during a good chunk of Barber’s career. Oh, and Washington coach Mike Shanahan already took one icon (John Lynch) out of Tampa Bay back when he was coaching Denver.
As of right now, the 2013 starting safeties likely would be Reed Doughty at free safety and, if his knee is sufficiently healed, Brandon Meriweather at strong. Meriweather’s health will be a season-long concern and Doughty is better suited to a role as a reserve safety and special teams player.
Barber will be 38 next month but his play has been solid and he has been exceptionally durable. In fact, Barber and London Fletcher are tied for the current lead in consecutive games played with 240. The 1997 third-round pick out of Virginia had four interceptions last year. That is as many passes as all of the Redskins’ safeties, free and strong, picked off last year.
As much as Barber may fill a need and be a fit in a lot of ways, there is a matter of coming to a contract. Yasinkas suggests that Barber might be willing to play for the veteran minimum salary ($940,000 for a player with 10+ years of experience) or close to it in order to play near home (besides the UVA connection he is from Roanoke) for a team that made the playoffs last year and could be on the upswing. But money is money and it is hard to see Barber, who has over made over $43 million in salary and bonuses during his NFL career, going through all that needs to be done to prepare for a season for the minimum salary.
Barber made $3 million playing for the Bucs in 2012.
It should be noted that Yasinkas did not say that he thought that there was any interest shown by their the Redskins or by Barber’s camp. He was speculating that it might be a good fit.