Three days after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers released safety Tanard Jackson, the Washington Redskins picked up Jackson on a one-year deal and reunited him with defensive backs coach Raheem Morris, the Bucs former head coach.
Tanard Jackson missed the entire 2010 season after being suspended for violating the league’s drug policy, and he played in just ten games last season. He is well-regarded by Bucs fans and was the team’s only good safety before being released. His loss was a huge blow for the Bucs and created another need, and the team cited a failed physical as a result of this move. However, the ‘Skins believe that he will recover from his shoulder surgery, and there seems to be something else at play here for the Bucs. Most reports say that he will be fully healed by mid-June.
The Redskins lost O.J. Atogwe this offseason, but he’s a player whom the Redskins can live without. He will likely be overpaid and is too injury prone, even if he is a good cover safety when healthy. Earlier this week, the Redskins signed Madieu Williams, who is a leader and one of the most caring individuals in the game. Although Williams is a great locker room guy, he is suspect in coverage and an underwhelming safety.
I still like both signings for the Redskins, especially since Jackson’s coverage skills make up for Williams’s weaknesses. Both veterans will certainly help this secondary that also lost star LaRon Landry. Washington also picked up former New England Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather, but he is definitely going to be a back-up and is a terrible coverage player. He can deliver big hits, but he makes far too many mistakes to be a starter and is clearly the third wheel among these safeties. Tanard Jackson is a huge upgrade for the Redskins, and this was a great signing for the team. Unless, the Bucs know something that they- and we- don’t.
Editor of the site Patrik Nohe stated that Yeremiah Bell is the ideal candidate to replace Tanard Jackson, and I would agree with that. He is solid in all aspects of the game and is especially good as a run stopper. Bell is one of the best locker room guys in the game, and he is arguably the most consistent safety in the NFL; he never misses a tackle. We need somebody like that, especially after an atrocious tackling year in 2011 (even Jackson was surprisingly poor in this regard).
Even if the Bucs don’t sign Bell, they should still look for a safety on the free agent market, preferably a veteran. As Patrik correctly pointed out, there is no safety to take with the fifth pick without the choice being a dreadful reach. When the Bucs pick in the second round, there is a severe dearth of options at safety and picking one in that spot would also be a reach.
Other options include former Tennessee Titans safety Chris Hope and former New York Jets safety- replaced by Landry- Jim Leonhard. Hope is a good leader, but I would rather have Leonhard. He is a great run stopper and is sound in coverage, and he is also a great locker room guy and will do everything he can to make the play. There aren’t many other defensive backs in the NFL who work as hard as Leonhard, and the Jets were noticeably more porous at the back in both tackling and coverage whenever he was out. He fits our system and is one of only two safeties (Bell being the other) who can effectively replace Bell, and Leonhard will likely be cheaper.
Releasing Tanard Jackson was a quizzical move made by the Bucs, and whatever was gained by helping out the new team movement is nowhere near what was lost talent-wise. Jackson is one of the best coverage safeties in the league, and the timing of this move was also poor. Signing either Bell or Leonhard is what the Bucs need to do right now, and failing to sign either one of them is something the Bucs cannot afford to do.
You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.
Topics: Brandon Meriweather, Chris Hope, Free Agency, Greg Schiano, Jim Leonhard, LaRon Landry, Madieu Williams, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Patrik Nohe, Raheem Morris, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tanard Jackson, Tennessee Titans, Washington Redskins, Yeremiah Bell