The Washington Post

Redskins mailbag: Ryan Clark, DeSean Jackson and their impact on the draft

Ryan Clark, then with the Steelers, tosses his shoe to a fan after a win over the Cincinnati Bengals in 2011. (Don Wright/Associated Press)

After a fairly slow start to free agency, a little flurry and then another lull, the Washington Redskins have kicked back into action this week, signing safety Ryan Clark while courting wide receiver DeSean Jackson today.

A lot of today’s questions center on the potential impact of those moves, both on the roster, on the field and in the draft.

Here we go . . .

With the DeSean Jackson visit, the signing of free safety Ryan Clark has pretty much gone under the radar. How much does Clark shore up the Redskins’ secondary and in your opinion will he be as good a player as, say, a Mike Mitchell for the next year or two (since we passed on him)?

– Bradford Gillens, Orlando, Fla.

By adding Clark, the Redskins addressed a couple of needs. First, they acquired a proven player capable of starting at free safety. This will enable Brandon Meriweather to play his natural position of strong safety. Beyond those two, Washington’s safety unit features a bunch of young, unproven players like Phillip Thomas, Bacarri Rambo, Jose Gumbs and Trenton Robinson. With two veterans in place, they can groom the young players properly rather than having to press them into duty prematurely. Another benefit of adding Clark involves his leadership ability. This locker room lost a force in London Fletcher, and now players need to step up and fill that role. Clark will help in this area. He can mentor the young safeties, and also serve as a good influence on the locker room as a whole. Now, will Clark be as good as Mitchell for the next year or two? Hard to say. He does turn 35 this year, and some believe that his range isn’t what it once was. He’s still a good tackler, and he’s smart, so he will likely remain effective. But long-term, this probably is not a better solution on the field. It’s probably the more affordable option, however, both in terms of the cap this year, and it also buys Washington some time with Thomas and Rambo rather than having to make a long-term commitment to someone like Mitchell while still trying to figure out what they have in those two second-year players.

How does the signing of Ryan Clark effect the Redskins’ flexibility come draft time with their top picks?

– Shae Cronin

It helps because now they have a guy that can at least keep that seat warm at free safety for a year while they see what they have in Thomas (probably a more natural strong safety, who missed all of his rookie year) and Rambo (a free safety, but one that struggled mightily as a tackler in Year 1). They can use that 34th overall pick for a more pressing need. Without Clark, the team might’ve felt a greater need to take a safety. Now, that’s not to say they will not draft a safety. But it means it’s less pressing a need.

So, if we were to land DJax, that would make wide receiver much less of a pressing need heading into the draft. How will that move impact draft strategy, specifically who they target at No. 34?

– Justin Byram

I don’t know that the acquisition of Jackson would entirely eliminate the need for a wide receiver. The team still could use a bigger target on the outside. Jackson isn’t that. But if they get the deal done, it gives them more flexibility. The team can look at the right tackle position, or cornerback or linebacker (both inside and outside), or even add a shifty pass-catching running back. The best-player-available route certainly becomes more possible.

As a guy who covers the team every day, who is the most frugal guy on the team and who is the biggest spender? Also, how does the team feel about Andi as the Bachelorette this summer?

– Danny Conklin

I don’t know who exactly you’d give the biggest spender crown to, but Trent Williams and DeAngelo Hall both have pretty impressive car collections, I hear. Alfred Morris, as we all know, still drives a (now-refurbished) 1991 Mazda and sticks to Chick-fil-A breakfast. But believe it or not, Robert Griffin III is another very frugal guy, teammates say. As far as the Bachelorette, I haven’t talked to any of them about the selection. But I do endorse the pick myself. Yep, she happened to be a Mike Jones favorite from the past season.

Have the Redskins done anything to address their hideous special teams or do they plan to do that in the draft? 

– Jim Alba

Special teams actually received a lot of attention in free agency. The team didn’t just sign Akeem Jordan, Darryl Sharpton and Adam Hayward because they can play inside linebacker. Their special teams prowess  also factored in Washington’s attraction to them. Andre Roberts has the ability to return kicks and punts, and if they get DeSean Jackson, that’s another dangerous return man added to the mix.

What happened to the Bruce Campbell deal? Did he ever sign or not?  Please update.

– Ed Boggess

That was a weird situation. The former Terp paid Redskins Park a visit, agreed to terms, and the NFLPA had him on record having signed a one-year deal worth $710,000. But he actually never signed because of a failed physical, which had some connection to recovery from a shoulder surgery he had. Someone told me last week that the Redskins haven’t ruled out adding (or re-adding) him once he heals up and can pass his physical.

Have a football question? E-mail Mike Jones at with the subject line “Mailbag question” for him to answer it in The Mailbag.

More from The Post:

Redskins, Jackson progress toward a deal

D.C. Sports Bog: Jackson’s awkward airport interview | More Bog

Outsider: A look at what DeSean Jackson would bring

Redskins sign safety Ryan Clark | Bog: Players’ welcome tweets

Wise: Against signing Jackson | Reid: For the signing

Follow: @MikeJonesWaPo | @MarkMaske | @Insider | Insider on Facebook

Post Sports Live:

Mike Jones covers the Washington Redskins for The Washington Post. When not writing about a Redskins development of some kind – which is rare – he can be found screaming and cheering at one of his kids’ softball, baseball, soccer or basketball games.



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Mike Jones and Mark Maske · April 1, 2014