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Washington Commanders 2024 NFL offseason primer: New franchise QB on the way as ownership-driven overhaul continues

In Sports
February 23, 2024

Washington Commanders‘ 2023 season: 4-13, missed playoffs

Overview: Last offseason brought seismic change to the franchise, with team owner Dan Snyder finally forced to sell after decades of scandal and dysfunction. The new ownership group led by Josh Harris purchased the Commanders for a world-record $6.05 billion, underscoring the potential that still remains with one of the NFL’s legacy franchises.

On the field, they’re a long way from reclaiming that stature. Ron Rivera was fired after a 2-0 start spiraled into the worst record of his four-year tenure. Sam Howell didn’t do much to suggest he’s the answer at quarterback, taking a staggering 65 sacks with middling-to-bottom-tier advanced metrics (EPA per play, dropback success rate) casting his 3,946 passing yards in a different light, not to mention the 21 interceptions he threw matching his 21 touchdowns.

So Harris and company cleaned house, ultimately hiring Dan Quinn as head coach amid public bickering with Lions assistant Ben Johnson, while also hiring 49ers executive Adam Peters as general manager and bringing Kliff Kingsbury back to the NFL as offensive coordinator.

With the No. 2 overall pick in a pretty loaded quarterback class, not to mention the most cap space in the NFL, there’s a chance to turn things around quicker than expected in Washington.

(Taylor Wilhelm/Yahoo Sports)

(Taylor Wilhelm/Yahoo Sports)

Key free agents

CB Kendall Fuller
WR Curtis Samuel
S Kamren Curl
RB Antonio Gibson
OT Cornelius Lucas
LB Cody Barton

Who’s in/out: A new ownership group and coaching staff means a high likelihood of lots of new faces, and it’s doubtful any of Washington’s impending free agents rise to the level of the “few cornerstone pieces” new GM Adam Peters said are already on the roster. Samuel is perhaps closest, but the Commanders might choose to let him walk in a rich wide receiver draft/free agency class. Curl, meanwhile, has a versatility to his game that might see the Commanders prioritize bringing him back.

New head coach Dan Quinn (left) and general manager Adam Peters are tasked with revitalizing the Washington Commanders. (Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

New head coach Dan Quinn (left) and general manager Adam Peters are tasked with revitalizing the Washington Commanders. (Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

Key free agent needs

Tight end
Edge rusher
Offensive line

Why the holes? The Commanders depleted their own pass rush group by trading away Montez Sweat and Chase Young midseason, so that area will need to be addressed. The franchise also hasn’t had a true tight end threat in years, and while Sam Howell regularly held onto the ball for too long, 65 sacks is an awful lot for any offensive line to give up.

Do they have the money? They have all the money. The Commanders are an NFL-high $83.5 million under the cap, almost $10 million more cap room than any other team, according to Spotrac.

Potential notable cuts

DT Jonathan Allen
OT Charles Leno Jr.

Why they might be gone: Allen just turned 29 and made the Pro Bowl in 2021 and 2022, while seeing a slight dip in his numbers last season. The Commanders have to decide if that’s worth a $21.4 million cap hit in 2024. Leno Jr., meanwhile, is due $15.5 million and might be jettisoned as the offensive line is remade.

Draft picks

1st round: No. 2
2nd round: No. 36
2nd round: No. 40 (from Bears)
3rd round: No. 67
3rd round: No. 101 (from 49ers)
4th round
5th round
6th round
7th round

Good draft fit

Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina

Why him? Maye is the No. 1 overall player on Yahoo Sports draft expert Nate Tice’s big board, with “a blend of size, athleticism and arm talent, paired with an aggressive mindset.” And the Commanders could very realistically have him fall to them at No. 2, if the Bears (or whomever might trade up to No. 1) covet USC QB Caleb Williams‘ upside over Maye. Either way, expect the Commanders to target their quarterback of the future this draft class, be it Maye or another elite prospect.

What can move the fantasy football needle this offseason?

The Commanders need to add a quality quarterback. Luckily, Washington is in a prime position to do just that with the second overall pick. The coaching staff ended up a little underwhelming but there is still talent on this team to help incubate a rookie QB. Terry McLaurin is a legitimate No. 1 receiver who has never been paired with an acceptable passer. He’d be the ideal veteran to accelerate a young guy’s developmental path immediately. Jahan Dotson was not productive last year but has all the skills to be a solid starting flanker or slot receiver. Brian Robinson has been a good back through two seasons. We’ve seen some of these guys make a fantasy impact without good quarterback play and they all could jump a level if Washington manages to hit at No. 2 overall. — Matt Harmon

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