The Washington Redskins released safety D.J. Swearinger Sr. on Monday, following his critical comments about the coaching staff after Saturday’s 25-16 loss to the Tennessee Titans.
Swearinger ripped defensive coordinator Greg Manusky to the media following Saturday’s game and questioned the play-calling. Coach Jay Gruden, who said Sunday he would make a decision on discipline after speaking with Swearinger, texted a reporter Monday, “We just thought it was best for both parties.”
Gruden lamented that the safety had commented after the two had spoken earlier in the season about Swearinger making critical remarks to the media.
“Thought we squashed it,” Gruden said. “I guess not.”
Swearinger recorded 51 tackles and four interceptions for the Redskins in 2018 and had been one of the most vocal players on the team before his release. He was voted a Pro Bowl alternate, and analytics site Pro Football Focus grades Swearinger as the No. 11 safety in the NFL this season.
“I’m peaceful about it,” Swearinger said Monday during his weekly radio appearance on 106.7 the Fan. “I don’t regret nothing, because I know I gave 100 percent from my heart.”
Swearinger said he met with Gruden alone Monday and was released. He explained that Gruden said this was the third time he had to be called into the office and that a decision was made.
“He said this is the third time you’ve been in my office and I’m releasing you, and that was that,” Swearinger said.
In his remarks Saturday, the sixth-year safety specifically was upset with a fourth-quarter call on a third-and-seven play at the Washington 37-yard line, on which cornerback Fabian Moreau was called for defensive holding on a pass that would have been incomplete.
The penalty gave the Titans a first down, and they scored the winning points four plays later. Swearinger insisted the Redskins should have been in zone coverage instead of man-to-man.
“We are our best on defense when we look at the quarterback,” Swearinger said after the game. “When you go one-high on a backup quarterback, that’s easy, man. They’re going to go backside every time.
“That’s a bad call. I feel like that was a horrible call. You don’t put Fabian in that situation with a backup quarterback. . . . But I feel like, man, if we look at the quarterback, with all this talent we got in the back end, we could dominate every team every week. I’m not the D-coordinator, but we didn’t make the plays. I guess we didn’t make the plays. And there’s plenty of plays out there to make.”
Swearinger also suggested that he prepares more than the coaching staff.
“I voice my frustrations every single time I come off the field,” Swearinger said. “I’m a very smart football player. I probably watch more film than the coaches. That’s probably documented. I try to give my insight, but you know, it doesn’t work. I can only put my heart in this [expletive], dog. Put my heart in this [expletive] to give them what I can give them. Whether they take it or not, that’s another thing. That’s another frustration that comes from me, when we don’t win.”
Swearinger has played on four teams in six years, and he had issues with the Houston Texans’ coaching staff before he left in 2014. He said in November the problems with Texans Coach Bill O’Brien came after Gary Kubiak, the coach who drafted him, left for Denver in 2014. He said the new coaches did not see him as a good fit and were constantly shuffling him among positions, from linebacker to free safety to strong safety, never allowing him to show his range.
Swearinger was in the second year of a three-year, $13.5 million deal he signed with Washington before the 2017 season. He started every game in his two seasons with the team.
Swearinger also was critical during the radio interview of the Redskins’ practice atmosphere, a topic he has harped on after other games this season.
“You know it’s kind of crazy that every time a player that comes here from another team [says], ‘Man, this is so laid-back,’ but I guess that’s just what type of practices we have: We have laid-back practices,” Swearinger said. “. . . I guess that’s just the formula that this team has. It would be less of a man of me to stoop down to the mediocre when I’m not a mediocre guy. I don’t like practicing mediocre, like preparing mediocre.”
Gruden said Sunday that he believed Swearinger and Manusky could work together moving forward, but that clearly changed after speaking with the player.
“I’m quite disappointed, to be honest with you,” Gruden said Sunday. “We made it pretty clear that we try to keep our business within these walls, and we’ve had many a talks before about that, and unfortunately he chose to go to the media again and talk about his displeasure with some of the calls. I know Coach Manusky works extremely hard, as does the rest of the staff, to put together a game plan, and unfortunately we didn’t get it done.”
Les Carpenter contributed to this report.
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