It was an improved season for the defense despite the injuries. The additions of Jonathan Allen and D.J. Swearinger helped bring speed and athleticism to one of the worst defenses in the league. However, Zach Brown being able to sure up the middle of the defense and be the quarterback was the most noticeable difference. As the Redskins look to turn the corner in 2018 and push a top-12 defense, they are going to need to get the middle linebacker position locked-up whether it is Brown or someone else.
I don’t know a Redskins fan, reporter or talking head that does not believe that Zach Brown was one of the anchors of the defense in 2017. Brown filled a gap at the middle linebacker position that has been void since London Fletcher retired in 2013. If Swearinger was the heart of the defense, Brown was the soul.
Brown finished the season on injured reserved due to an Achilles injury, but put up numbers that led the league in tackles until that point. He finished with 84 solo tackles and a combination of 127 with 2.5 of them sacks. Brown has the range to go sideline to sideline and chase down the best. The only knock on him is that he lacks elite ability in pass coverage.
Taking Kirk Cousins and his contract situation out of it for a moment, Zach Brown is the top Redskin that is hitting the free agent market that the Redskins need to go after.
Minter had a disappointing 2017 on a one-year deal with the Cincinnati Bengals. He only played nine games before being put on injured reserve for a Hamstring injury. Prior to his injury, Minter racked up 16 solo tackles and 32 combined. From 2015-2016, when he started for the Arizona Cardinals, Minter racked up 131 solo tackles, 175 combined tackles, 4 sacks and 4 passes defended.
Minter would be returning to a 3-4 base defense that he was successful with in Arizona. Coming into the 2017 season, Minter was Pro Football Focus’s 25th best linebacker. Still being under 30 and understanding how to position himself best in a 3-4 defense would allow the Redskins to stay strong in the middle of the field.
Preston Brown had an impressive season on a disappointing Buffalo Bills team. He just finished up his rookie contract with improvement every year. Brown not only racked up 84 solo tackles and 64 assisted tackles, but, he is good in pass coverage too. Brown had 3 pass deflections in 2017 and has totaled 10 pass deflections in his short career.
This is they type of player that the Redskins should consider investing a long-term contract in. He is going to be 26 years old during the 2018 season and did not miss a game in his first four years. A four or five year commitment with about a three-fourths of the guaranteed money you would offer Zach Brown should get him to D.C.