Over the past week, I’ve been outlining and discussing the best offensive players in Redskins history. There have been some talented weapons over the years for the ‘Skins; however, many of the best players in franchise history played on the defensive side of the ball. To begin the second half of my Redskins series, I figured I’d start with ranking the top ten cornerbacks in team history. With arguably the best player in franchise history being a corner, there is no better position to begin these rankings with. Without further ado, here’s my list for the ten best cornerbacks in Washington Redskins history.
1. Darrell Green
Darrell Green is a Redskins legend, but he is also a legend of the game of football. Throughout a 20-year career with the Redskins, Green established himself as both one of the fastest players in NFL history and one of the best cornerbacks of all time. His ability to chase down anybody on the field, combined with his ability to lock down a team’s #1 receiver made him a unique talent in the NFL. Throughout his career, Green compiled seven Pro Bowls, one 1st Team All-Pro, and two Super Bowl Championships en route to a Hall of Fame enshrinement in Canton.
2. DeAngelo Hall
After beginning his career with stints in Atlanta and Oakland, D-Hall would find a home with the Redskins upon joining the team in 2008. Hall would spend ten seasons in the burgundy and gold, collecting 23 interceptions and a Pro Bowl nod in 2010 during his time there. Hall enjoyed five prime years with the ‘Skins before injuries would begin to derail his career. However, Hall would still stay involved with the organization, taking a lesser role to play at safety and acted almost as a player-coach for his final four seasons. Redskins fans will always remember D-Hall for his lockdown coverage and his historic four-interception game against Jay Cutler and the Bears.
3. Champ Bailey
Champ Bailey is remembered by most NFL fans for his ten seasons with the Denver Broncos. However, many people forget that the Hall of Fame cornerback began his career with the Redskins. Bailey was an immediate impact player for the ‘Skins, collecting five interceptions in just his rookie season. He started every game he played in for the Redskins and had 18 interceptions for the team in five seasons. He was a four-time Pro Bowler in Washington and established himself as an all-time great Redskins cornerback before getting shipped to Denver in exchange for Clinton Portis.
4. Pat Fischer
Selected in the 17th round of the NFL Draft in 1961, Pat Fischer undoubtedly exceeded expectations for his career. The 5’9 cornerback began his career in St. Louis before joining the Redskins in 1968. He would spend ten seasons with the ’Skins, amassing 27 interceptions, a Pro Bowl nod and 1st Team All-Pro selection in 1969, and a trip to the Super Bowl in 1972. Fischer is one of the greatest Redskins defenders of all time, and quite frankly, I think it is a travesty that this man has not been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
5. Mike Bass
After spending one season in Detroit in 1967, Bass took a year away from the NFL before being signed to the Redskins in 1969. He was a virtually unknown player when he was signed, but quickly made a name for himself in Washington. Bass played for seven seasons in D.C., never missing a start or a game during that time. He was a reliable starting cornerback for the “Over the Hill Gang” Redskins that made it to the Super Bowl in 1972. His best season came in 1971 when he recorded eight interceptions.
6. Shawn Springs
Shawn Springs spent seven seasons with the Seahawks before joining the Redskins in 2004. He was a solid starting cornerback on some Redskins teams that had very formidable defenses in the mid-2000s. Springs had 12 interceptions in five seasons with the ‘Skins before joining the Patriots for his final season. He was a respectable starting cornerback who enjoyed a long and successful career in the NFL. His best season for the Redskins came in 2004 when he recorded five interceptions and six sacks.
7. Fred Smoot
Smoot was another talented cornerback that made up a Washington Redskins secondary that was one of the best in the NFL in the mid-2000s. Smoot would play with the Redskins from 2001-2004 before leaving to join the Vikings for two years. He would then return in 2007 and play his final three seasons in Washington. Smoot recorded 18 interceptions in his career for the ‘Skins. Today, he occasionally lends his takes and opinions on D.C. sports media coverage.
8. Joe Lavender
Lavender began his career in Philadelphia, playing there for three years before joining the Redskins in 1976. He would spend the next seven seasons in Washington and was one of the best corners in team history. In those seven seasons, Lavender recorded 29 interceptions and made back-to-back Pro Bowls in 1979 and 1980. He recorded six interceptions in both of those seasons; however, he hauled in eight interceptions during his first season with the team. Lavender’s solid NFL career was capped off in 1982 when he received a Super Bowl ring after playing in a reserve role with the team that year.
9. Vernon Dean
Drafted by the Redskins in the 2nd round of the 1982 NFL Draft, Vernon Dean played for six seasons in Washington. He was a solid starter for the ‘Skins during their prime years during the 1980s. Dean started eight games during his rookie season, the same year that the Redskins would win their first-ever Super Bowl. He was also a member of the 1987 Super Bowl Champion Redskins team but played in a reserve and special teams role at that point in his career. His best season came in 1984 when he picked off seven passes and led the league with two pick-sixes.
10. Carlos Rogers
Rogers was a 1st round pick by the Redskins in 2005 and immediately joined a secondary featuring Shawn Springs and Sean Taylor. He became an instant contributor and a valuable asset to the ‘Skins defense. He recorded eight interceptions in six years with the team but led the league in pass deflections in 2008. His interception numbers don’t speak to his skill as a player, as he was notorious for not having the best hands. Nonetheless, Rogers was a skilled coverage man who enjoyed a successful ten-year career in the NFL.
Who has the most interceptions in Redskins history?
Darrell Green. Over the course of his 20-year career with the Washington Redskins, Green hauled in 54 interceptions for 621 return yards and six pick-sixes. The most he ever recorded in one season was five, which he accomplished three different times.
Who has the most interception return yards in Redskins history?
Brig Owens. The safety played his entire 12-year career in Washington, recording 36 interceptions. He returned those picks for a total of 686 return yards, good enough for the most in team history. Despite having this many yards, Owens only recorded three pick-sixes in his career.
Who has the most pick-sixes in Redskins history?
Darrell Green. Considering the man played the entirety of his 20-year career in the burgundy and gold, it should come as no surprise that Darrell Green owns this record. He brought back six interceptions for touchdowns during his career.
Who has the most interceptions in a season in Redskins history?
Dan Sandifer. In 1948 during his rookie season, Sandifer recorded 13 interceptions, good enough for most in a single season in team history. He had quite an interesting career, having recorded stats as a runner, receiver, defensive back, and return man. He played for six teams throughout a six-year career.
Who has the most interceptions in a game in Redskins history?
DeAngelo Hall. In a game against the Chicago Bears in 2010, Hall intercepted Bears quarterback Jay Cutler four times. Not only was this the most interceptions in a game in Redskins history, but it is also tied for the most by any player in a game in NFL history.
Who has the longest interception return in Redskins history?
Barry Wilburn. In a game against the Minnesota Vikings in 1987, Wilburn intercepted Vikings quarterback Wade Wilson at the 1-yard line and returned it all the way for a 100-yard pick-six. This return stands as the longest in ‘Skins history.
Who has the most pass deflections in Redskins history?
Champ Bailey. During his five seasons with the Redskins, Bailey successfully defended 81 passes. However, this statistic was not always recorded in the NFL. It is very likely that Darrell Green, Brig Owens, or another Redskins player recorded more than this during their careers in Washington.