The reports that Brandon Meriweather has signed with the Redskins immediately drew some snarky comments from some media types on Twitter.
Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com tweeted, “Why would the Redskins sign Brandon Meriwether? Have they watched him play?”
Darin Gantt, a former Panthers beat reporter, pulled in the perception that the Redskins overpaid to get wide receiver Pierre Garçon to sign a free agent contract on Tuesday. In reference to the Meriweather acquisition Gantt tweeted, “Apparently funding Garcon contract with money saved on film.”
Snark aside, the Redskins will have a project on their hands. Meriweather's career took a precipitous drop last year after he made back-to-back Pro Bowls with the Patriots.
In fact, many say that he didn’t really deserve to make the Pro Bowl after the 2009 and 2010 seasons, that he made it based on his status as a first-round draft pick and the reputation of the Patriots’ defense.
Certainly Bill Belichick wasn’t impressed with his back-to-back Pro Bowl credentials last summer. Meriweather found himself playing with the second unit during the preseason and he found himself on the waiver wire when final cuts came down.
He did have a major distraction prior to training camp. On Feb. 27, two men were shot during a brawl outside of a house party in Apopka, Florida. The two victims, who were high school classmates of Meriweather, said that he pulled the trigger.
He denied that he was involved and he eventually was cleared of any wrongdoing. But that did not come until mid-August so by the time his off-field issues were behind him, hit on-field problems were just beginning.
The Patriots cut him at the end of training camp and the Bears, desperate for safety help, signed him. Meriweather started four of the Chicago’s first five games but he spent the rest of the season as a part-time player, when he could get off of the bench at all.
Can he turn his career around with a change of scenery? It will be up to new Redskins secondary coach Raheem Morris to see what he can get out of him.
The Redskins certainly need the help at safety. A year ago, it appeared they would be set there for a few years with LaRon Landry and Oshiomogho Atogwe but it looks like injury-plagued Landry will be allowed to walk as a free agent and Atogwe was released after a subpar 2011 season. Meriweather joins DeJon Gomes and Reed Doughty, both of whom are more suited to backup duty, at safety for the Redskins.
One thing Meriweather could bring to Washington is a badly needed ability to create turnovers. He didn’t have takeaways last year but in his three years starting with the Patriots he had 12 interceptions, which is more than all Redskins safeties combined had in that period of time. He also forced four fumbles.
Despite his ball hawking skills, it might be better to let Meriweather play in the box more like Landry did. Pass coverage is not his strong suit. Per the folks at Pro Football Focus, quarterbacks enjoyed pass ratings of 132 last year and 100 in 2010 when throwing into Meriweather’s coverage.
But the PFF crew rates him pretty well against the run. In a passing league, that is not ideal but Morris and Jim Haslett will have to figure out how to maximize his strong points while keeping opposing offenses from exploiting his weakness.