Last week, the Washington Redskins lost talented young linebacker Keenan Robinson for the season. Earlier this offseason, they found out that jack-of-all-trades backup linebacker Rob Jackson would be suspended for the first four weeks of the year.
Before that, steady veteran linebacker Lorenzo Alexander left as a free agent.
Consider those losses, then throw in the fact that London Fletcher is, like, 63 years old and Brian Orakpo has suffered back-to-back pectoral injuries, and Redskins fans have every reason to be concerned about the state of their linebacking corps.
Some of that stress was certainly relieved on Thursday when Brian Tinsman of Redskins.com announced that the team brought in former All-Pro linebacker Nick Barnett to provide some assistance in the middle.
Barnett might be 32 years old, but it's strange that he lingered this long on the open market.
Pro Football Focus (subscription required) graded him as the ninth-best 4-3 outside linebacker in the league last year and he recorded a total of 242 tackles while starting all 32 of his games with the Buffalo Bills over the last two years.
He also spent two years as an inside linebacker in Green Bay. There, he played for now-Redskins linebackers coach Bob Slowik. The system is similar to the one he's used to—the one he excelled at in 2009 with the Packers, when he had four sacks, 105 tackles and received the second-highest PFF grade in the NFL at that position.
Barnett is a solid tackler, but he's also able to get after the quarterback and make plays, which is something Jim Haslett really likes. He had five sacks, three interceptions and four forced fumbles in two years with the Bills, also scoring on a pick-six.
He was released by the Bills officially for failing a physical, which might be a key reason why he received so little interest on the open market.
Speaking with the media on Thursday (via Redskins.com's Brian Tinsman), Barnett admitted that he had his knee cleaned up after the season, but worked out for the Redskins and it appears they were satisfied.
Since his role will probably be limited anyway, the concern regarding potential injury here isn't major.
He might not be a long-term answer, but don't be surprised at all if Barnett winds up playing a fairly important role on the field and in the locker room.
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