The 2022 season has just ended, and as of March 13, the 2023 campaign will open its doors. Touchdown Actu therefore takes the opportunity to offer you an overview of the different franchises during the off-season. Which players to keep and cut? Which free agent to extend? Which rookies to watch? Here are some ideas, franchise by franchise. In the spotlight today, the Washington Commanders.
For the first time since the arrival of Ron Rivera, the Commanders have reached 8 wins in 2022 and posted a balanced record (8-8-1). Not enough to celebrate, however, for a team that seems to have stagnated for several seasons. In particular because of the chronic uncertainty at the quarterback position where names (and failures) follow one another.
If the team has playmakers in several positions, it also still suffers from many holes. In a division that has gone from the worst in the league to the most competitive in two seasons, the franchise must find the right recipe to avoid disappearing into the shadow of its rivals.
1. Terry McLaurin (WR)
2. Jonathan Allen (DT)
3. Kendall Fuller (CB)
More than 4200 receiving yards by catching passes thrown by Case Keenum, Dwayne Haskins, Tyler Heinecke and Carson Wentz, this poses the performance achieved by Terry McLaurin and shows the extent of his talent. The receiver shows season after season that he is part of elite. The star of the capital is him.
It is not the most media, but it is undoubtedly one of the best in his position. For 6 years, Jonathan has been the backbone and soul of Washington’s defense. Captain of the squad, it is essential whether against the race or on the pass rush. Another longtime defensive rock, Kendall Fuller, despite his experience at the Chiefs, seems to be part of the furniture in Washington. Author 13 passes defended, three interceptions including two returned for touchdown last season, the cornerback continues to be the main asset of the air defense of his team.
– Carson Wentz (QB)
– Logan Thomas (TE)
– Cornelius Lucas (OT)
They weren’t the first to take the gamble, and like the Colts before them, the Commanders failed to revive Carson Wentz’s career. Despite a few flashes, the former Eagle mainly goes through blunders and seems to have definitively lost his football. Benched for Tyler Heinicke during the season then for Sam Howell the last game, Wentz will not last long in the federal capital. When we know that in addition his departure will free up no less than 26 million dollars in the payroll, there is only to know when.
31 years old and only one season beyond 350 yards. Logan Thomas is anything but a starting tight end. Yet his salary of more than 8.5 million is that of an important player. Such a yield/contract ratio should push the front office to release it before the start of free agency.
The Commanders’ offensive line is a recurring problem as these 48 conceded sacks (27th NFL) still prove. If he is not the only responsible, Cornelius Lucas is in any case anything but the strong link in the protection of the quarterback. At almost 32, the team must find a better alternative for him.
The summer man
Sam Howell (Quarterback)
One game, the last of the regular season, was enough for Sam Howell to convince his staff and his leaders to entrust him with the reins of the attack in 2023. The 22-year-old quarterback, drafted in the 5th round last season, will be the new bet from a franchise that has been desperately looking for a leader for far too long. Brilliant in college, the former North Carolina Tar Heel has proven he can be productive in the air but can also run. With the targets at his disposal, the young pitcher will have something to express himself. And to mentor him and help him reach his full potential, the Commanders have brought in former Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes coordinator Eric Bieniemy. A major recruitment for the attack and the player who said he was “a big fan” of his new coach and very “excited” at the idea of working with him.
The main free agents
1. Da’Ron Payne (DT)
2. Cole Holcomb (LB)
3. Taylor Heinecke (QB)
4. Trai Turner (OL)
5. Efe Obada (Edge)
Les autres : Jon Bostic (LB), David Mayo (LB), Wes Schweitzer (G), Cam Sims (WR), Elie Wolf (TE), Tyler Larsen (C), Nick Martin (C), Jonathan Williams (RB)
Author of the best season of his career, Da’Ron Payne shone in the heart of the line with 11.5 sacks in particular. Alongside Jonathan Allen, he forms an explosive and complementary duo among the most intimidating in the league. It would be surprising if the front office let it slip away easily. He is an ideal franchise tag candidate.
Duty player and shadow worker, Cole Holcomb is not the NFL’s most talented linebacker. But he proved to be an effective tackler and useful against the run. Injured a large part of the season, the player and the team could find a common benefit in signing an inexpensive one-year contract. The player to revive, the franchise to keep a needy at a lower cost.
With 25 matches over the past two seasons, it is of course on him that the Commanders have relied the most to lead their attack. Without being brilliant, Heinecke has largely earned his stripes to find a position as an understudy in any team.
Top 5 Needs
4. Tight end
There are still many holes in the Commanders’ workforce, and the need for reinforcements is important if only to compete in their division. We find deficiencies on both sides of the ball. The second curtain continues to be the Achilles heel of defense. If Jamin Davis achieved a much better 2nd year than his rookie year, he still remains perfectible but above all very alone. Around him the other holders and players of the rotation are at the end of their contract. If the secondary ranked 4th against the pass, the cornerback position deserves reinforcement. The team sent William Jackson III to Pittsburgh during the season and if the plan is to reinstall Benjamin St Just inside in 2023, reinforcement on the outside becomes a priority.
If the position of quarterback seems to have found its leader with Howell, the presence of a veteran understudy (see more if things go wrong) remains a priority reinforcement. And we should think about protecting this quarterback. 27th in the number of sacks conceded in 2022, the Washington line is not all-risk insurance. In an NFC where the pass rush is formidable with two of the three best teams in the field, you have to think about consolidating the exteriors. The right side of the particular line where no incumbent emerges.
Finally, if the trio of receivers look great, the tight end squad, much less. Since the departure of Jordan Reed in 2019, the team has not found an effective solution. The new coordinator Eric Bieniemy used to rely on Travis Kelce to develop his game. We will therefore have to consider the position during the offseason to continue to surround Sam Howell.
Kaleb McGary (OT)
The Commanders approach this free agency with a modest margin, but the Carson Wentz case could quickly unlock enough for them to offer great proposals for different positions. And if the staff wants to permanently install Sam Howell, then it must be put in good mood, give him time to launch McLaurin or Dotson. That’s good, this season, the market for free agent tackles is not lacking in charm.
Former 1st round, Kaleb McGary took his time but he finally showed in 2022 that he could be a solid right tackle. Perfect for negotiating his future contract. The Atlanta player will bring a big plus in protection but also in the running game. Enough to kill two birds with one stone by also helping Brian Robinson and Antonio Gibson. A weight reinforcement which would also make it possible to reposition Sam Cosmi, 2nd round 2021, inside where his profile should be maximized.
The new blood
Joey Porter Jr. (CB)
Washington must strengthen the exteriors of its defensive backfield to continue to exist against Ceedee Lamb, AJ Brown and Davonta Smith to name a few. Son of former Steelers All Pro linebacker, Joey Porter Jr. has the perfect dimensions for this. And if the physical aspect is not everything, the Penn State player has all the qualities required to shine at the top level.
Intelligent, effective in the zone as well as in the press, he also knows how to contribute against the race. And while he tends to slack off his hands, or fish in the finish to create turnover, that type and flaws won’t scare off experienced defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio. Porter is a potential starter with significant room for improvement.
Autres choix : Devon Witherspoon, Brian Branch, Michael Mayer
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