The Washington Redskins have signed safety D.J. Swearinger, who played the past two years for the Arizona Cardinals and has also spent time with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Houston Texans, the team that drafted him in 2013.
Grade: B-minus. Swearinger started slow in his career, having been drafted in the second round four years ago. This is now his fourth team since entering the NFL, but Swearinger showed a lot more last year with Arizona. He's a big hitter and the Cardinals used him both in the box and in a deep safety role. Is he an ascending player whose game has matured?
What it means: The Redskins needed youth at safety and they get that with Swearinger, who is only 25. They also needed more players with his versatility. They do have Su'a Cravens, who will play safety this season, though he also can play multiple linebacker spots in their sub packages (he prefers safety). Cravens, too, plays with a lot of energy, so a pairing of these two would provide youthful passion. The Redskins typically need their safeties to play both free and strong, and Swearinger showed last year he could do both. The Redskins also have veteran Will Blackmon, so they have three safeties capable of helping right now. While Cravens and Swearinger are more natural strong safeties, Blackmon is more of a free.
What's the risk? There's not a lot of risk considering the Redskins needed more help at safety, whether just with depth or as a starter. Plus, teams are using more three-safety sets. But the risk would be if Swearinger hasn't moved past whatever issues he had earlier in his career. Or if he and Cravens don't become a good pairing because perhaps they're too similar. The Texans cut Swearinger after only two seasons -- and he had been a starter. There were bigger-name safeties available, including Swearinger's former teammate Tony Jefferson. But safety is not a place I'd spend big money on, simply because they need help from the front and corners to make themselves look even better. But the other option would have been -- and still could be -- drafting someone.