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Options remain at safety for the Redskins

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Options remain at safety for the Redskins

There was a run on the safety position during the first hours of NFL free agency. Unfortunately the Redskins, who are in need of two starting caliber safeties, were not participants.

They were interested in Jairus Byrd of the Bills but not for anything close to the $54 million over six years he got from the Saints. They were probably shopping more in the neighborhood of New Orleans’ Malcolm Jenkins, who signed with the Eagles (3 yr./$15.5 mil) and Mike Mitchell. The Redskins were know to be very interested in the former Panther who went to the Steelers for $25 million over five years.

In all, eight of the top nine safeties in the rankings from our corporate cousins at Rotoworld signed contracts yesterday. Only former Dolphin Chris Clemons, ranked fifth, remains unsigned.

So Clemons, who is solid in coverage but has only four interceptions in his five NFL seasons, is an option for the Redskins. So is Nate Allen, who has started 54 games in four seasons with the Eagles and after some rocky times he appeared to improving last year. Allen, coincidentally, was the player that the Eagles drafted with the second-round pick that the Redskins sent to Philly in the Donovan McNabb deal.

Some other available safeties are the Bears’ Major Wright (9 interceptions in last 3 years with 3 TD returns), Thomas DeCoud, who was released by the Falcons yesterday (Pro Bowl in 2012, struggled along with the rest of the Falcons D last year), and Kendrick Lewis of the Chiefs (50 starts, 7 interceptions in four seasons).

There also is the option of re-signing Brandon Meriweather and Reed Doughty, last year’s starters. That would excite nobody—in fact, it would have the opposite effect with much of the fan base—but it could plug the hole until better solutions can be found in the draft, on the roster (perhaps Phillip Thomas can develop into a starter) or in free agency in 2015.

The Redskins could also sign a cornerback (Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Antonio Cromartie are two top options there) and move DeAngelo Hall to safety. But they would rather keep Hall at corner at least this year so that is a back-burner option.

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Robert Kelley, Su'a Cravens, Colt McCoy among Redskins who'll have new numbers in 2017

Robert Kelley, Su'a Cravens, Colt McCoy among Redskins who'll have new numbers in 2017

The next time Robert Kelley plows over a helpless linebacker, he'll do it with a new number on his uniform.

The second-year running back is switching from No. 32 to No. 20, according to Redskins.com. And he's not the only returning player who'll take the field in 2017 with a new pair of digits.

Su'a Cravens will no longer be No. 36 for Washington. Instead, he'll change to No. 30. DJ Swearinger will be taking over No. 36 after coming over from the Cardinals, a number that he reportedly purchased from Cravens for $75,000

Then there's Colt McCoy. McCoy has donned No. 16 for the past three seasons, but he's throwing it back to his college days and will now rock No. 12.

MORE REDSKINS: THE ULTIMATE REDSKINS DRAFT PREVIEW

Finally, second-year corner Kendall Fuller only spent one year with No. 38. As he hopes to improve in his sophomore campaign, he'll be doing so with No. 29.

As for the free agents, Terrelle Pryor will be replacing DeSean Jackson in more ways than one when kickoff rolls around. Not only will the ex-Brown have to shine as a top receiver for Kirk Cousins like Jackson did, but he'll also be sporting Jackson's No. 11.

New linebacker Zach Brown, meanwhile, is now No. 56, linemen Stacy McGee and Terrell McClain are Nos. 92 and 97 respectively and Brian Quick will keep No. 83 from his Rams days.

For a complete list of all the changes, click here.

RELATED: IS REUBEN FOSTER WORTH THE RISK?

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How big a need do the Redskins have at running back?

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How big a need do the Redskins have at running back?

Do the Redskins have a draft need at running back? It depends on who you ask.

Jay Gruden seems to be very happy with incumbent running back Rob Kelley. Here is what he had to say last month about the second-year back, signed as an undrafted free agent out of Tulane, last month:

“Oh, man, I love Rob Kelley,” Gruden said. “I thought he played great. You throw a rookie free agent into the fire like that and see him play and compete. Not one time did I feel like it was too big for him. Not once. That’s a hell of a thing to say for a kid out of Tulane who only had a couple of carries his senior year. He came right in, he competes on every play.”

[Related: Full Redskins Seven-Round Mock Draft]

Kelley played in 15 games last year and rushed for 704 yards and scored six touchdowns. He started the last nine games and if you project his numbers in this games out over a 16-game season you get about 1,050 yards and 11 touchdowns. That’s not Ezekiel Elliott or Le’Veon Bell production but it’s good for a team that is going to rely mostly on the pass.

Gruden also praised third-down back Chris Thompson and backup Mack Brown. In a telling sign, he acknowledged that 2015 third-round pick Matt Jones is still on the roster but he didn’t have much good to say about him.

Why, then, do you see so many draft analysts listing running back as one of the team’s most urgent needs? Mark Maske, who is the Post’s national NFL writer but also a former Redskins beat reporter, has them taking Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey in his mock draft. “There certainly are issues on defense for the Redskins,” writes Maske. But there also is a need at running back.”

Lance Zierlein of NFL.com said that the Redskins “obviously” need a running back as his rationale for mocking Florida State’s Dalvin Cook to Washington at No. 17.

So, what is it? Is Kelley adequate for the Redskins’ needs considering they call pass plays on over 60 percent of their offensive snaps? Would they run more often if they had a back like McCaffrey or Cook? And if they did run more would the offense improve?

I think that running back is like several positions with the Redskins. If they have to get through the 2016 season with what they have they will be OK. But if there is an upgrade on the board when they are on the clock they won’t hesitate to make the pick if he’s the best player available.

We will see what happens if, say, McCaffrey is still on the board when the Redskins pick at No. 17 and top defensive targets like Rueben Foster and Haason Reddick are off the board. That will be the true test to see how committed Gruden and the rest of the organization are to Kelley, Thompson, and company. 

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