Updated: May 5
By Adam Aniba
During Washington's 6-1 run, the defense has been opportunistic with timely forced turnovers. None was bigger than Kendall Fuller's red zone interception in the win vs Atlanta with under a minute left in regulation. Although Fuller has had an up and down season, safety Kamren Curl has been the leader of the defensive backfield.
The former '20 7th round pick hasn't recorded an interception this season, Pro Football Focus ranks Curl as the NFL's #1 rated safety with teammate Darrick Forrest ranked #2.
Over the last two seasons, Curl has shown the ability to play all over the filed. Until the recent the emergence of Forrest, it's been Curl carrying the load for the backend. In his career, he's lined up at free safety, strong safety, even lining up as a hybrid cornerback.
Since the injury to MIKE linebacker Cole Holcomb, Del Rio has rolled out more multiple safety packages. Featuring the Buffalo Nickel formation (utilizing 3 safeties) has been a staple, as he did last season and has even used a 4th safety in subpackages.
Curl has a lot to do with the emergence of Forrest with him being a mentor to the former Bearcats safety. The two have formed a unique bond, where they play off each others strengths and always seem to be on the same page.
Coaches have the utmost confidence in Curl and it's been evident this season, wearing green dot on his helmet, since the injury to Holcomb. This entails Curl having direct communication with Del Rio through his helmet pre-snap and is in charge of relaying calls/changes to his defensive teammates.
In the 19-13 win over Atlanta, Curl recorded 8 tackles (6 solo), playing every snap for the eighth consecutive game. In fact, the former Razorbacks safety has recorded at least 7 tackles six times over the last 10 weeks.
Curl has recorded 65 tackles (46 solo), 5 tackles for a loss and a sack thus far this season. In three seasons, he's registered 252 tackles (171 solo), 3 interceptions, 9 passes defended, 11 tackles for a loss, 4 sacks, 8 QB hits and a pick 6 for TD.
Curl isn't the run-of-the-mill strong safety, but is a defensive back that can be equally dangerous playing close to the line or in coverage.
Although It's imperative that Washington re-signs Daron Payne, defensive end Montez Sweat and Curl need new deals, as both will be free agents in 2023.
Keeping this defensive together won't be easy, but Curl only counts $1.03 million against the '23 team CAP, which is the final year of his rookie deal. Unlike a 1st round draft choice, there will be no 5th year option for Curl.
Regardless of what happens the rest of this season, Curl has become one of the most valuable players on the entire team and has the ceiling to be an All-Pro. The franchise tag should be off the table because as fans, we've seen that show before.
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