Free-agent safety D.J. Swearinger parlayed a big 2016 season with the Arizona Cardinals into a three-year contract with the Washington Redskins on Thursday.
Although Swearinger was previously considered a hard-hitting enforcer and not much more on the back end, he changed that perception in 2016 by flashing a well-rounded skill set that allowed him to flourish in several areas.
Not only did Swearinger rack up 64 tackles and two sacks, but he also registered a career-high three interceptions—matching the cumulative total he posted from 2013 to 2015.
In that same vein, Swearinger defended a career-best eight passes after notching 11 total through his first three NFL seasons.
Thanks to those numbers and some marked discipline, Swearinger earned the Cardinals' top coverage grade (85.9), according to Pro Football Focus' Matt Claassen. That mark also ranked seventh overall among safeties.
|D.J. Swearinger Career Stats|
|Season||Games||Total Tackles||INT||Passes Defended||Forced Fumbles|
In the midst of a season defined by improved play in all phases, Swearinger told Darren Urban of the Cardinals' official website that he had to experience serious lows before he developed into a consistent and reliable defender:
It’s been a long journey for me. Up-and-down roller coaster. God teaching me to stay humble in certain situations. I think I had a big head in Houston. Going to Tampa and handling things the right way but it just didn’t work out. Coming here to the practice squad, knowing I should be starting somewhere but understanding I had to go on my path to get to where I am at.
Now a member of the Redskins, Swearinger figures to play a key role on the back end with the rest of Washington's safety situation in flux.
Not only is DeAngelo Hall coming off a torn ACL, but Duke Ihenacho and Donte Whitner are both free agents as well.
If Hall isn't at full strength, Will Blackmon projects as a possible stopgap solution at free safety alongside Swearinger.