The greatest defensive players in Redskins history
By Jonathan Eig
10: Ryan Kerrigan (Linebacker, 2011-present)
Kerrigan will most likely be backing up younger players this year as he moves from a 3-4 OLB to an end in the 4-3. It probably would have served him better to have played in a 4-3 his entire career, but that’s not what the defensive scheme called for. So Kerrigan adjusted, playing in four Pro Bowls and collecting 90.0 sacks along the way. Most of the important defensive plays made by the Redskins in the 2010s involve Ryan Kerrigan.
9: Lemar Parrish (Cornerback, 1978-1981)
Most of Parrish’s glory years, when he was both an extraordinary cornerback and kick returner, came in a Bengals uniform. But after taking over for Pat Fischer, Parrish proceeded to be named first-team All-Pro in two of his four seasons in Washington. Tony Peters, who played safety when Parrish was a corner for the Skins, said Parrish was always worried about getting the defensive calls straight, always double and triple checking what the play was. But it didn’t seem to matter. He was always there when it counted.
8: Paul Krause (Safety, 1964-1967)
This was one of the two great ones to get away. Krause would leave the Redskins via trade after just four seasons, then spend another twelve years in Minnesota crafting a Hall of Fame career. But it wasn’t as if he didn’t show up for the Redskins. He led the league in interceptions his rookie year, and was a first-team All-Pro in both 1964 and 1965. Krause was a classic free safety, patrolling the back of the field like a centerfielder and snatching up any loose balls (to the tune of 80 career interceptions) that came into his territory.
7: Wilber Marshall (Linebacker, 1988-1992)
He came from Chicago at a hefty price, and there was always the feeling during Marshall’s time in Washington that they never quite got everything he had to give. But he still was a two-time All-Pro and Defensive POY during his time in Washington. During that 1992 season, he recorded 138 tackles, six sacks, and accounted for five turnovers. Marshall is one of only five players in NFL history with more than 40 sacks and 20 interceptions.
6: Champ Bailey (Cornerback, 1999-2003)
Clinton Portis had a fine career for the Redskins. But the trade that sent Bailey to Denver in exchange for Portis remains among the worst in Redskins history. Despite making the Pro Bowl in four of his five seasons with Washington, the Redskins felt it appropriate to part with one of the best cornerbacks the league had ever seen just as he was entering his prime. His staggering accomplishments in Denver would land him in the Hall of Fame, but his five years in burgundy and gold still make him an all-time Redskins great.