Free Agent Antoine Winfield Will Meet with the Washington Redskins
Winfield is a perfect fit for the press-style, zone coverage schemes defensive coordinator Jim Haslett loves to employ. He's also the experienced, steady player the Redskins need in a secondary that was woeful in 2012.
Washington ranked 30th against the pass last season. A makeshift crew of defensive backs surrendered 281.9 yards per game through the air.
That can't happen again in the new season. Haslett's defense will be expected to pick up more of the slack, especially if Robert Griffin III is still sidelined.
Winfield has all of the attributes to inspire a turnaround for the Redskins secondary. He is a savvy press corner who still succeeds in jamming and bumping receivers at the line.
He re-routes wideouts underneath and prevents them from releasing cleanly to the inside between himself and a deep safety. That's the vulnerable area in the Cover 2 scheme the Redskins play.
Winfield is also still arguably the best run-stopping cornerback in the NFL. He made 101 tackles in 2012 and isn't shy about stepping up and decking a ball-carrier with a fierce hit.
In the kind of 3-4 system the Redskins play, corners are often required to be force players against the run. Running backs are usually forced sideways, and Haslett's defense needs corners who are good tacklers.
However, as stout as he is delivering a hit, Winfield would help the Redskins the most in coverage. He snared three interceptions for the Minnesota Vikings last season.
Winfield also broke up another 12 passes. Most impressive of all, he didn't allow one touchdown (per NFL.com's Dan Hanzus) all season.
The Redskins need that level of stability in their secondary. They have attempted to retool the unit, but have so far only added E.J. Biggers.
Winfield would give the team a credible starter, or at the very least a dangerous nickelback and slot corner.
Some fans may be put off by his age. Since Mike Shanahan became head coach in 2010, "veteran" has almost become a dirty word.
However, these are still the Redskins. Joe Gibbs won three Super Bowls trusting veteran talent. Where would the current defense be without 37-year-old London Fletcher?
Winfield's age might also be an advantage at the negotiating table. With the soon-to-be 36-year-old nearing the end of his pro career, the Redskins should be able to agree on a short-term deal.
That would be useful given the current cap restraints. That's provided Shanahan and Bruce Allen can fend off interest from the Vikings, who may may want Winfield back (per 1500ESPN.com's Tom Pelissero).
The Redskins need more experienced and skilled players at the vital positions on their defense. Winfield certainly fits the bill, and signing him should be a priority for Shanahan and Allen.
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