Free Speech Doesn’t Apply In The NFL
25 Dec, 2018
The Washington Redskins released safety D.J. Swearinger, two days after he ripped defensive coordinator Greg Manusky’s playcalling in a loss at Tennessee.
Swearinger first told 106.7 The Fan about his release during his paid weekly appearance; sources within the organization confirmed the move. Swearinger said coach Jay Gruden told him he was released in a brief meeting Monday morning.
The team announced that Swearinger was waived later Monday.
“He just said it was the third time I’ve been in his office and we’re going to release you,” Swearinger told co-host Grant Paulsen. “And that was that.
“I don’t have words for this. I had a Pro Bowl year. I was a captain in year one, and this year I thought I improved on everything and I did a slap in the face and get released. I gave it my all and put my heart into it every single week to the best I could. I guess it says a lot about the organization.”
Swearinger had one season left on his original three-year deal. The Redskins will save $4.5 million off their 2019 salary cap with this move, which might’ve been made in the offseason anyway.
A source told ESPN that the decision to release Swearinger was an easy one because he had been warned several times about his critical remarks about the team.
Gruden had said in a conference call Sunday with reporters that he was “quite disappointed” in Swearinger. Gruden had previously talked with Swearinger when the coach felt his player had gone too far with his opinions.
“We made it pretty clear that we try to keep our business within these walls,” Gruden said, “and we’ve had many a talk 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.”
Last offseason, Swearinger tweeted about areas he wanted the Redskins to address in the draft. He criticized several issues this season, from what he considered lackadaisical attitudes during Friday practices to overall preparation.
“Different strokes for different folks,” Swearinger said. “That’s been my whole life. Different strokes for different folks. At the end of the day you got to keep grinding first and stay true to who you are and never let no one bring you down, no matter what the circumstances may be.”
Swearinger has played with four teams in his first six seasons. Both Houston and Tampa Bay also have released him. He signed with Washington as a free agent in the 2017 offseason after spending 20 games over two years with Arizona.
Saturday, he specifically criticized Manusky’s playcalling. Swearinger was upset that the Redskins played man coverage against backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert on a critical third-and-7 late in the game.
The play resulted in a defensive holding penalty by corner Fabian Moreau. Gabbert’s pass, thrown under some pressure, was high and too far inside. Swearinger said a “kindergarten quarterback” would know where to throw in that situation.
“You don’t put Fabian in that situation on a backup quarterback,” Swearinger said after the game. “Regardless of the call, yeah the ball was overthrown. But if we look at the quarterback, with all this talent we got in the back end, we could dominate every team every week. But I’m not the D coordinator, bruh. We didn’t make the plays I guess. There were plenty of plays out there to make, so we didn’t make the plays to win the game.”
Swearinger said on the radio that Gruden agreed with wanting to run different coverages at times.
“You tell us you want to run it, well you’re the head coach,” Swearinger said. “We want to run it too because we want to make plays. … That’s the type of organization we was in.”
Swearinger also said after the game that he probably watched more film than the coaches. He told 106.7 The Fan that he often texted coaches, including Manusky around 1 a.m. or so while watching film, pointing out strategies he felt could work. And, Swearinger told the show, Manusky told him two weeks ago that he wanted him on his staff when he was done playing.
Swearinger was voted a captain last season, but said coaches didn’t want him as one this season. He said he was in a three-way tie to be a captain, but coaches opted for others.
“It’s not rocket science why I wasn’t captain,” Swearinger told the show. “I’m a vocal guy, passionate guy that wants to win. If the coaches feel I’m too smart or a weapon as far as my smarts are concerned … they got to release the guy that has knowledge or has respect in the locker room I guess.”
But Swearinger said he’s at peace.
“I was shocked. But I’m peaceful, because at the end of the day, I gave my heart and full effort into trying to help the team win,” he said. “That’s all I can ask for. That’s how I was taught and brought up, whatever you do, do wholeheartedly so you don’t regret it. I did everything wholeheartedly. I don’t regret nothing.”
Swearinger was named an alternate to the Pro Bowl and joked on the radio that he’d wear his South Carolina Gamecocks helmet if he ended up playing in the game.
He could be signed by another team this week.
After being released, Swearinger said he told his defensive back teammates to “keep grinding.”
One teammate, defensive lineman Jonathan Allen, tweeted, “Greg manuski called a great game” after the Redskins arrived home after Saturday’s loss and Swearinger’s subsequent comments.
“I’ve been in this game a long time and seen a lot of things,” Swearinger said. “It’s a different mindset when talking about a defensive back who’s been in the game a while and a D-lineman that hasn’t been in the game a while. He’s a young player, doesn’t really know about the calls in the back end. He said the right thing.
“Jonathan Allen had a great game; why wouldn’t he say that after a great game? But he doesn’t play in coverage and he never knows what’s going on in the back end. I’m taking up for my players and guys going out to war with me. … All the guys in the back end who feel the same about how we play defense. That’s all it is.”
The Redskins (7-8), with 21 players on injured reserve, have lost five of their last six games and have been eliminated from playoff contention.
Swearinger’s release represents yet another week of controversy or drama at Redskins Park. They claimed linebacker Reuben Foster earlier this month, three days after he was arrested on a domestic violence charge. Three weeks ago they benched linebacker Zach Brown, who said last week that he saw the writing on the wall in Washington.
Two weeks ago, linebacker Mason Foster was involved in a controversial Instagram post in which he said a cousin was running his account and responded to a fan with vulgarities. But Foster had also admitted posting “F— this team and the fan base” followed by six laughing emojis.
Last week, safety Montae Nicholson was arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault and public drunkenness. A video surfaced of Nicholson punching another man, knocking him to the ground.
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