Redskins should be interested in recently released linebacker Christian Kirksey
The Washington Redskins need some depth at the linebacker position and former Cleveland Browns LB Christian Kirksey could provide them with experienced depth and upside at the position.
This offseason, the Washington Redskins have many holes to fill. But one of the biggest ones comes at the linebacker position.
Heading into 2020, the Redskins are shifting to a 4-3 defense under Jack Del Rio. This should better suit the talent that the ‘Skins have up front, but there are some questions about exactly who will play linebacker in the new scheme.
There are plenty of options on the roster that could garner consideration for the Redskins. But there are also questions about each talent. Will Reuben Foster be healthy enough to play in 2020? Can Ryan Anderson effectively fill the SAM linebacker role, or is he a positional tweener for the 4-3? And will Jon Bostic return to the Redskins after a career year? It looks likely that the lattermost question will be answered in the affirmative, but the others are much less settled.
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Guys like Cole Holcomb, Shaun Dion Hamilton, and Josh Harvey-Clemons could fight for roles in the linebacker corps. But the team should look to find some veteran options as well with more experience and proven production as a starter.
For that reason, Christian Kirksey would be a good fit. Kirksey was released by the Cleveland Browns on Tuesday morning, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport but it shouldn’t take him too long to find work moving forward.
Kirksey, 27, has been a highly productive starter for the Browns over the course of his career. His best years came from 2016-2017 when he averaged 143 tackles, three sacks, a forced fumble, and four pass defenses per season. He’s a well-rounded player who fares better against the run but can hold up against the pass.
The bigger question with Kirksey will be about his health. He has been limited to nine games over the course of the past two seasons while dealing with hamstring and chest injuries. While that is a concern, it may also drive his market value down and he could be available on a one-year, “prove-it” deal. And the Redskins should certainly take a chance on him in that scenario.
Kirksey would provide the Redskins with veteran linebacker depth. He has played, and played well, in both the 3-4 and 4-3 schemes, so that versatility will be an added weapon for him. He could slot in as the middle linebacker for the team or if they re-sign Bostic, he could play on the outside to make a solid starting trio with Holcomb and Bostic. Then, the team could rotate in Anderson to see if he’ll fit on the outside for pass rushing situations.
And if Foster is healthy, then the team could start him at middle linebacker with Kirksey and Bostic rotating in depending on the package. So long as the team has enough depth, they will be able to rotate players in and out effectively to create a solid linebacker corps.
Kirksey may not be the biggest name on the open market, but he’s available now — players cut before free agency can sign at any time — and adding him wouldn’t preclude the Redskins from adding another player at linebacker.
We’ll soon see if they show any interest in Kirksey, but given that the 2020 NFL Draft class isn’t very deep at linebacker, it may behoove the squad to add a couple of veterans in free agency. And if they do, Kirksey should get consideration as a low-risk, high-reward-type signing.