Anyone out there remember a 6’3”, 337-pound defensive lineman from Baylor University named Phil Taylor? You should. He was the 21st overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns. During his rookie campaign, he started all 16 games. He finished seventh on the club with 59 tackles and second on the team with four sacks.
A year later, he plays in only eight contests. In 2013, he was back for all but one outing and made 15 starts. But he logged only 26 stops and a pair of quarterback traps. In May of 2014, the franchise picked up the fifth-year option on the massive defender. But he would suffer a knee injury during the regular season. He re-injures the same knee later that year and wound up playing in only five games.
Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com reported back then that Taylor was to be placed on injured reserve for 2015. However, it was Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk that the four-year pro asked for his release instead so he could pursue another job. The Pittsburgh Steelers brought him in but he appeared to be a health risk and chose not to sign him.
Hence, Taylor didn’t play in ’15. He also didn’t suit up in 2016 after being signed to a future’s contract by the Denver Broncos earlier that year. They cut him loose until the Washington Redskins inked him to a one-year, $775,000 deal on January 6 (courtesy of Spotrac).
The bottom line is this: Can Phil Taylor contribute this fall? The club added defensive linemen Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee in free agency. They re-signed nose tackle Ziggy Hood but lost defensive tackle Chris Baker to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. If Taylor can stay healthy and show signs of his previous ability, the ‘Skins may have found part of the answer to their rushing defense woes. And that would be a major plus when it comes to dealing with Ezekiel Elliott and the defending NFC East champion Dallas Cowboys’ potent ground attack.
Russell S. Baxter is the Washington Redskins lead writer for Pro Football Spot. You can follow him on Twitter at @baxfootballguru. Looking for more Redskins news and features? Like our Facebook page HERE and also follow @spot_redskins on Twitter.