The Redskins made a surprising move this morning, releasing one of their defensive leaders. Safety D.J. Swearinger told Grant Paulsen on 106.7 The Fan that he was called into Jay Gruden‘s office this morning and informed of his release (via ESPN’s John Keim on Twitter).
The veteran has been vocal about his team’s woes this season, and that continued following Saturday’s loss to the Titans. Swearinger specifically called out defensive coordinator Greg Manusky, saying his coach’s play-calling allowed Tennessee to secure a go-ahead score. Swearinger pointed to Manusky’s decision to go man-to-man on a third down play against Titans backup Blaine Gabbert; the play ended in a holding penalty on Fabian Moreau.
“In that type of situation, you got a backup quarterback, I wouldn’t call man-to-man to make it easy for him,” Swearinger told NBC Sports Washington. “He hadn’t practiced all week. So, disguise a zone and let him throw the ball right to us. We didn’t make the plays we needed to, but when it’s crunch time, put us somewhere where we can make a play. Don’t put us in man-to-man where it’s easy for the quarterback. It’s too easy for the quarterback.”
Following a standout 2017 season, Swearinger was having another productive campaign in 2018. The 27-year-old had compiled 53 tackles, one sack, three forced fumbles, and four interceptions in 15 games. Pro Football Focus was also fond of his performance this season; the site ranked Swearinger 11th among 86 eligible safeties. The safety had played all but one of Washington’s defensive snaps, and he earned a spot as a Pro Bowl alternate.
There should be some interest in Swearinger’s services, although the safety is subject to waivers. If a team places a claim, they’d be responsible for paying his $176K paycheck for Week 17. SiriusXM’s Adam Caplan points out (on Twitter) that the veteran’s $4.25MM 2019 base salary was not guaranteed. The move will provide Washington with $4.5MM in cap space and $1.33MM in dead money.
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