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Washington Redskins: Five Free Agent Safety Targets

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COMMENTARY | The Washington Redskins seem poised to sign a safety or two once free agency begins on March 11, 2014.

Reading in between the lines of new head coach Jay Gruden's comments about improving the back end of the defense, it's pretty clear that adding some help at the safety position is near the top of the team's offseason agenda.

Also, with current safeties Brandon Meriweather, Reed Doughty, E.J. Biggers and Jose Gumbs all scheduled to become unrestricted free agents; there's another strong indication that the Redskins will be on the prowl for some reinforcements at safety.

Here are five veteran safeties the Redskins should target once the free agency market opens for business.

Jairus Byrd - Buffalo Bills

Byrd has consistently been one of the NFL's best playmakers at the free safety position since his arrival in 2009. During his five-year career, Byrd has constantly made opposing signal callers pay for their mistakes with his 22 career interceptions.

Byrd missed the first five games of the 2013 season with plantar fasciitis, but he was able to overcome the injury and play in the Bills' remaining 11 contests.

By signing Byrd, the Redskins would acquire a Pro Bowl caliber safety with the ball-hawking skills that they so desperately need in their secondary. His price tag won't be cheap, but with the team operating with an ample amount of salary cap room, they should be more than capable of paying the price to attain the services of one of the game's best safeties.

T.J. Ward - Cleveland Browns

If the Redskins are looking in the direction of adding a strong safety, then Ward may be their guy.

Ward is a versatile safety who is adept at delivering blows to opposing offensive players while also possessing the ability to make a difference defending the pass. Although injuries cut his seasons short in 2011 as well as 2012, Ward was able to avoid the injury bug and have his best season as a pro in 2013.

If the Redskins fail to sign Byrd, then Ward should be the next man up on the team's free agency safety target list.

Malcolm Jenkins - New Orleans Saints

Jenkins is a versatile player who successfully made the transition from cornerback to safety back in 2010. Although he isn't in the same class as Byrd when it comes to intercepting passes, Jenkins is still an adequate playmaker at the free safety position.

He would be a nice free agency consolation prize for the Redskins if they strike out on Byrd and Ward.

Taylor Mays - Cincinnati Bengals

Despite his inability to live up to his impressive physical talents, Mays has been able to carve his niche as a decent safety in the NFL.

Redskins head coach Jay Gruden is familiar with Mays from their days as members of the Bengals organization, so the familiarity factor could lead to Mays following Gruden to Washington D.C.

Mays, who isn't going to break the anyone's bank in free agency, could be an excellent value signing for the Redskins at a bargain price.

Ryan Clark - Pittsburgh Steelers

Although the former Redskin has probably lost a step or two, Clark is still a capable NFL safety as he enters his thirteenth season.

If Clark doesn't re-sign with the Steelers, he'd be a solid veteran addition to the Redskins' secondary. He'd instantly become a candidate to replace retiring Redskins' linebacker London Fletcher as the team's emotional leader on the defensive side of the football.

If the Redskins strike out on some of the previously mentioned younger safeties in free agency, then maybe they can reunite with Clark at a reasonable price.

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Drexel Perry is a Washington Redskins and Washington Wizards Yahoo Sports contributor. Follow him on Twitter @DrexelPerry.

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