The Washington Redskins aren’t known for being an astute NFL franchise, considering their recent history of boneheaded personnel moves. That seems to have changed in 2014, with Redskins general manager Bruce Allen adding several solid, if not spectacular, players onto their roster. The addition of former Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark might prove to be the most pivotal for the Redskins.
As of this writing, the Redskins are in hot pursuit of wide receiver DeSean Jackson. He would definitely be the coup de grace of free agency signings for the Redskins. But he’s not a Redskin yet, so attention must be paid to the addition of Clark. Washington signed the 34-year-old Clark to a one-year deal after a subpar 2013 with the Steelers.
Clark is a familiar face to Redskins’ fans, having played with the team in 2004 and 2005. He went on to have a stellar career in Pittsburgh, earning a Super Bowl ring after the 2008 season, as well as a Pro Bowl selection in 2011. Clark brings consistency to the safety position, something the Redskins haven’t had since the death of safety Sean Taylor in 2007.
Clark isn’t the long-term answer at strong safety, but he’ll be in the mix to battle safeties Phillip Thomas and Brandon Meriweather to become the starter. Thomas and Meriweather battled injuries in 2013, with Thomas missing the entire season due to a Lisfranc injury to his left foot. Since 2014 is a rebuilding year for the Redskins, Clark is the perfect choice to hold down the starting position if Thomas and Meriweather can’t get back onto the field.
The competition at strong safety will be fierce. Thomas and Meriweather will have to prove to first year Redskins head coach Jay Gruden that they’re healthy enough to earn consideration to start at strong safety. Clark started all 16 games for the Steelers last season, and is more in football shape than Thomas and Meriweather. If Clark still has something left in the tank, he could become the Redskins’ starting strong safety soon enough.