Doughty, 31, was not offered a contract after his deal expired at the end of last season. He took to Instagram and Facebook to thank his teammates, coaches, fans, family and friends. Here’s an excerpt from his message:
Been a good 8 yr run with the @redskins. Want to thank the Redskins organization, especially HOF coach Joe Gibbs. He valued character, hardwork and special teams. He believed in me enough to take a chance on me and draft me. Thanks to my family, friends, coaches, teammates, fans, trainers, equipment managers, and all the people inside the redskins building who I have interacted with for 8 yrs.
Doughty, who the Redskins selected in the sixth round of the 2006 NFL draft, became a constant at a position in which the Redskins shuffled players in and out like musical chairs.
It seemed like every season Doughty, who was excellent in run support and wrapping up defenders but not as strong in coverage, was in danger of getting cut. However, he not only kept making the roster, but he started 54 of the 107 games he played in his Redskins career. He was dependable and consistent, playing in 15 or 16 games in each of his last five seasons.
Doughty was more than reliable, though. He was a tough hitter, a form tackler who understood where the ball was going, and a leader who possessed a strong work ethic. He was also a throwback to the days of George Allen and Joe Gibbs, when the Redskins’ special teamers were just as important as starters. Doughty was named captain of the Redskins’ special teams during the 2013 season.
Doughty finished his Redskins career with 506 tackles, 3.5 sacks, three interceptions, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
Four times Doughty finished among the top four Redskins defenders in tackles. In 2009, Doughty led the secondary with 91 tackles, despite starting only seven games. Doughty followed that up with 93 tackles in 2010, though he started just nine games.
If more of the Redskins played like Doughty did in a 24-14 playoff loss to Seattle on Jan. 6, 2013, Washington might have defeated the Seattle Seahawks. Doughty had 13 tackles and two sacks against a team that would win the Super Bowl one year later.
Doughty also played well in the 2012 season-ending 28-18 win over the Dallas Cowboys that gave the Redskins their first NFC East title since 1999. Doughty had six tackles, four of them solo against the Cowboys.
Doughty won’t be confused with all-time great Redskins safeties Ken Houston or Sean Taylor. However, Gibbs and defensive coordinator Richie Petitbon probably could have found a role for a player like Doughty on their Super Bowl teams.
Redskins safeties Mark Murphy, Curtis Jordan and Alvin Walton all played on Super Bowl champions, and they were also known more for hard hits, fundamental tackles and being in the right place at the right time than for their work in blanketing receivers.
It’s true that Doughty got burned at times, as some fans liked to point out, but he also never played with a cornerback the caliber of Darrell Green.
This year Doughty got caught in a numbers game when the Redskins signed former Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark, and the NFL reinstated Tanard Jackson after two years of drug suspensions.
But if starter Brandon Meriweather gets injured or suspended again for illegal hits, or if the 34-year-old Clark, Jackson or second-year safeties Bacarri Rambo or Phillip Thomas get hurt, it wouldn’t be out of the question to see Doughty return to Washington.
Doughty had more to overcome in his career than just his competition, though. Following in the footsteps of Larry Brown, a running back who starred for the Redskins in the 1970s, Doughty became on of the few hearing impaired players in the NFL.
Doughty has known he was hearing impaired since he was a child. He started wearing hearing aids in team meetings his rookie year after his coaches noticed he was reading lips and seemed slow in understanding instructions. From that point on, he picked up the defensive system quickly.
Doughty also had to contend with his first-born son Micah’s chronic kidney disease. Micah had a successful kidney transplant in 2008 when he was 19 months old thanks to Doughty’s wife Katie donating a kidney. Before the transplant, Micah, born six weeks prematurely, had to undergo dialysis every night.
Doughty has been active in promoting kidney disease awareness, working with the National Kidney Foundation to spread the message that people can save lives by donating kidneys to some of the more than 100,000 Americans in need of transplants.
Doughty and his family made Northern Virginia their home for eight years and became part of the community. He posted photos on social media of him fishing in the area, and he became a big supporter of the Nationals and Capitals.
Doughty was a true Redskin, possessing the traits of hard work, character and leadership that most of the Redskins had in the days when the team was coached by Allen and then Gibbs. Among players he started out with, Doughty is only outlasted by wide receiver Santana Moss and defensive end Kedric Golston.
Doughty may have been expendable on paper. But the Redskins will have to wait and see if they miss him on the field. Heart, character and football instincts can’t be measured as easily as a time in the 40-yard dash.
Doughty is certainly still good enough to play in the NFL as a backup and special teams standout. Last year he recorded 80 tackles in 15 games, eight of which he started. However, it looks like he’ll have to wait and see if he gets a call from a team that has suffered injuries at the safety position.
Or maybe he could put on a few pounds and transition to playing a linebacker-safety hybrid position for a creative defensive coach who values Doughty’s strengths.
But even if he doesn’t play in the NFL again, eight seasons with one team is a pretty good run for a 6th-round draft pick out of Northern Colorado.
“Whether I continue on my NFL journey or transition into a new career, I am thankful,” Doughty wrote to his fans.
Meanwhile, legions of fans thanked Doughty on Facebook for his time with the Redskins.
If Doughty winds up with another team, people shouldn’t be surprised. He’s been counted out before only to come back and thrive. His motto may as well be “Don’t Doubt Doughty.”