The Redskins have a number of tough decisions this offseason. Over the next few weeks, Breaking Burgundy senior writer Chris Russell will examine those decisions. After starting with free agent nose tackle Terrance Knighton, the focus shifts to the secondary, specifically safeties DeAngelo Hall and Dashon Goldson.
Upcoming decisions for Redskins general Scot McCloughan vary. Some are based on age and talent. Some involve health and cap space. Depth and backup options factor in. For Washington's safety spots, it's all of the above.
Should they keep DeAngelo Hall and Dashon Goldson? Or should they keep just one? If they keep one of the two, which one?
Now, even with Goldson and Hall, the Redskins need safety help for the future. Goldson turns 32 two weeks into the 2016 NFL regular season. When he does, Goldson catches Hall. That is until the corner-turned-safety turns 33 in November.
Injuries hampered Hall in recent seasons. He missed the final 13 games of 2014 with a blown Achilles. Hall's recovery took a hit when he suffered the same injury in a home accident. He also missed five games this past year with a toe injury suffered in Week 3.
On some level, these maladies led to the long overdue switch to safety. By switching to safety, Hall may have greased the skids for Goldson's exit.
Because the NFL’s salary cap forces the ultimate jigsaw puzzle, it's almost impossible envisioning both still in a Redskins uniform in 2016. That is unless Goldson takes a significant pay cut. Hall might end up taking less as well.
Goldson, acquired by the Redskins from the Tampa Bay Bucs counted $4 million under the Redskins cap in 2015, according to OverTheCap.com. For this upcoming year, he counts $7.5 million in base salary plus a $500,000 workout bonus for an $8 million dollar cap charge. Nothing is guaranteed and the beauty of Goldson’s contract as currently structured is no dead money charge in 2016 or 2017.
The Redskins can save $8 million against their 2016 cap by releasing him. If Goldson were smart, he would take a massive slash in salary and stay with the Redskins, assuming that offer exists.
In other words, he’s not getting more than roughly $2 million on the open market, if he could even get that.
Hall counts for $5.062 million under the Redskins 2016 salary cap. Unlike Goldson, there's a dead money charge if the Redskins dump Hall. The amount, $1.625 million. If labeled with a post June 1 designation, Hall would count $812,500 in 2016 and the same in 2017.
From a production standpoint, both players scored a defensive touchdown in 2015. Goldson unofficially led the Redskins in tackles with 139. He had one interception, four passes defended, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries
Despite missing five games and switching positions, Hall had 58 tackles, two passes defended, one forced fumble and a recovery. His score came in the division-clinching win against Philadelphia.
For Hall, on-the-fly transition to safety was challenging. The plays develop from different angles and there’s a lot more space. A full off-season and training camp/preseason should go a long way to helping the cause.
Goldson has that experience already so he’s ahead of the game. However, I don’t think he really helped the Redskins out where they need it the most.
Washington needs a safety with a ton of range, so they can play more single-high “centerfield” looks.
Hall didn’t provide that either over. That's fine because if the Redskins are smart, they’ll use Hall for a different role. They’ll have him cover some tight ends and press at the line of scrimmage. They’ll have him drop into the box for run support. He has proved that he has the willingness and ability to do that consistently.
In my eyes, leadership is a wash. Goldson added plenty in his first year with Washington, but Hall provided that element for several seasons. .
As for youth, the Redskins should have Kyshoen Jarrett back for training camp after his rookie season ended early with an injury. While Jarrett can fill many roles, I don’t envision him being a full-time safety. I imagine the Redskins don’t either.
There's hope Duke Ihenacho can stay healthy for more than a game or two after injury-plagued seasons. As for Jeron Johnson, he's just a guy in my eyes. The ex-Seahawk offered very little as a safety, but contributed on special teams.
In other words, the Redskins need at least one safety in the draft. You could make the argument they need two especially if they pass on additions in free agency.
What this all means for those two 30-something vets is the following. Because of salary cap implications and overall upside, the Redskins likely cut the chord with Goldson completely. Yes, it's risky. Yes, there's a possibility he re-signs on a very small contract.
The more likely possibility? Washington rolls with DeAngelo Hall in 2016 and, if he can avoid another injury, beyond.
Chris Russell is a senior writer for Breaking Burgundy, longtime reporter on the Redskins beat and radio host for 1067 The Fan. Follow Chris on Twitter @russellmania621.
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