By Rich Tandler
My colleague Ryan O’Halloran has read the tea leaves and they seem to point to the Redskins moving on from LaRon Landry. The strong safety has decided to postpone a decision on whether or not to have surgery to repair an injury to his Achilles tendon in hopes that alternative treatment will work.
Regardless of the medical wisdom of that course of action, it doesn’t seem to be good for his future with the Redskins. Although the will not say anything directly, it seems clear that they would rather he get the surgery—in fact, they likely would have liked to see him get it soon after he went on injured reserve in mid-December—so that they could see how he is doing before deciding on offering him a contract.
While we have about six and a half weeks to go before free agency starts, the Redskins certainly must prepare for the possibility that their starting strong safety will not be with them going forward. Here are a few possibilities:
Reed Doughty—He has been the old faithful backup at safety since 2006 and it probably is best that he remains a reserve. Doughty’s coverage skills are suspect and while you can make up for that issue a game or two at a time it would not be wise to rely on him for 16 games.
DeJon Gomes—He started five games last year and his play was acceptable considering that he was a rookie fifth-round draft pick who wasn’t in an offseason program due to the lockout. That said, his play was not up to snuff for a 16-game starter. The Redskins could choose to gamble that Gomes could get to where a starter needs to be by next September.
Mark Barron, Alabama—According to my man Wes Bunting, Barron’s main strength is his attacking style, which makes him a solid player when the ball in in front of him. However, his ball skills are suspect and it might be scary when he is asked to turn and chase down a receiver on a deep ball. Wes has him as a late first-round pick.
Harrison Smith, Notre Dame—Bunting’s third-rated strong safety has “natural range and instincts”. Although you might not want him playing center field, he could fill the bill as an in the box safety. Smith could be available in the third round.
Tyvon Branch, Raiders—Oakland is likely to use its franchise tag on running back Michael Bush, so Branch should be a free agent. He is solid both against the run and in pass defense and he won’t be 26 until next December.
Sean Jones, Bucs—There is quite a drop off in free agent strong safeties after Branch. Jones is probably the best of the next their although he as some issues tackling and he will be 30 before next season starts.