The New England Patriots released Terrance Knighton Monday after signing the defensive tackle to a cost-effective 1-year deal this offseason. As one might imagine, a certain one of his former teammates with the Washington Redskins wants him back in Ashburn.
Should the Redskins decision makers let Swaggy sway them?
It's not so much should they. It appears they didn't.
Washington announced the signing of veteran DL Cullen Jenkins Monday afternoon to a 1-year contract. The 35-year-old veteran spent the past three seasons with the New York Giants after stints with the Eagles and Packers.
Is he the answer to the Redskins' defensive line needs? Eh, we'll see about that. Not to be agist, but that 35 number is no joke in NFL years. He might not crack the top 6-7 in the current rotation.
Whether Jenkins or Knighton or someone else, it's fair to think the Redskins haven't settled on a core just yet.
As for why Jenkins over Knighton, it's possible timing was a factor. Jenkins was available. Knighton just released.
Let's also note that despite the stellar "Pot Roast" nickname, Knighton wasn't stellar last season with the Redskins. The massive nose tackle might start strong in games, but the big man would fade. He also only played around one-third of snaps each week. Both scenarios were related to his physical conditioning, which, like his game, wasn't always stellar. He was listed around 350 pounds and likely played over that number at times.
Weight wasn't the primary issue in New England, it appears. Instead, Knighton struggled with the Patriots two-gap technique, according to ESPN's Patriots Insider Mike Reiss. He never played that technique in his previous stops. He also didn't play at all in New England's third preseason game.
Let's also note that for all the talk of concern over the backup running backs and outside linebackers, the interior defensive line rotation remains the most unsettled. When the Redskins line up in 3-4 front, Kedric Golston is on the nose. Golston played behind the younger Knighton last year.
Therefore, there's some logic in bringing Knighton back.
Problem: The Redskins weren't good against the run last year. That's where Knighton makes his mark. From Breaking Burgundy's Chris Russell in January:
As for 2015, let's note that issues with the rush yards allowed doesn't all or even mostly fall on Knighton. It’s a combination of bad tackling, bad angles and really a team failure.
However, according to the league’s official statistical service, the Redskins allowed 5.07 yards per attempt “up the middle” on run defense, 29th in the league. That would suggest Knighton was part of the problem and not necessarily the solution.
Yet he might be a solution more than the current options, though Ziggy Hood has had moments. Rookie Matt Ioannidis isn't ready. Baker is better on the end than inside. Kendall Reyes is also more of a 3-4 end. Golston is 33. Stephen Paea hasn't matched the hope when he was signed a free agent last year.
Of course, the Redskins plan on using four-lineman looks around 70% of the time. At this point it doesn't seem reasonable to think Knighton can adjust to that scheme when he hasn't in the past.
However, Knighton's veteran locker room presence was a key in last season's culture turnaround. Problem: Golston, the longest tenured Redskin has him trumped there.
Maybe there's room for a Jenkins or a Knighton if Paea is jettisoned, though he has more upside. Either way, just like Stork attempt, the Redskins seem to recognize there's a need that needs addressing.
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