The 2021 season has just ended, and from March 16, the 2022 campaign will open its doors. DNA of Sports 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.
After a promising 2020 season, rewarded by qualifying for the playoffs, Washington did not confirm and fell back into the soft underbelly of the NFC conference. A regressing defense, an attack still limited, Ron Rivera’s men seem no more advanced than when they took over the old Panthers’ fort 24 months ago. Now the Commanders, the franchise has the means to strengthen itself during this off-season. Whether through free agency, a trade, or the draft, it will above all be necessary to find a commander-in-chief to put at the center of the attack.
1. Jonathan Allen (DL)
2. Terry McLaurin (WR)
3. Chase Young (DE)
Defensive captain and extended over the long term last summer, Jonathan Allen is the pillar of the capital. If he is not the flashiest player, his role is fundamental on the defensive line. Author of his best in 2021, marked by 9 sacks, the former Alabama player floated in a struggling defense for much of the season.
A little less alone in 2021 than he was in previous seasons, Terry McLaurin remains the Commanders’ main aerial weapon, crossing the 1,000-yard barrier on reception for the second season in a row. If the franchise manages to get their hands on a top quarterback, he could explode the counters and become one of the hottest receivers in the NFL.
Victim of a knee injury mid-season, Chase Young had a second more complicated professional exercise. However, despite a first part of the season below expectations, the defensive rookie of the 2020 season remains a major weapon against opposing quarterbacks. At just 22, he is already a leader on and off the pitch.
–Landon Collins (S)
– Ereck Flowers (OL)
With a massive contract and a disappointing performance, Landon Collins could be pushed out in the coming weeks. The safety did not confirm the potential demonstrated during his years in New York. The franchise could save a whopping $11.5 million by cutting it after June 1. Unless there is a major remodeling of his contract, his future should be written far from Washington.
Returning to the capital after a season in Miami, Ereck Flowers has fulfilled his mission: to bring more stability to a line lacking certainty. But his $10 million contract with no dead money could represent substantial financial leverage that the franchise could use to fight other fights.
The summer man
Jamin Davis (LB)
Drafted in the first round last year to transform Washington’s second curtain, Jamin Davis has so far disappointed. Positioned inside at the start of the season, the former Kentucky player suffered a lot and saw his playing time reduced until being repositioned on the outside at the end of the season. Limited production, too low an impact, insufficient for a player on whom the team has bet so much.
At the start of his second season, Davis will have to greatly raise his level to justify this confidence and not already appear as a disappointment in the draft. Athletic and fast, he could fully blossom in his new role without bearing the responsibility of the game. In the wake of a defense expected at the turn after a very disappointing 2021 exercise, the young linebacker must work during the offseason and show something different thing from September.
The main free agents
1. Brandon Scherff (OL)
2. JD McKissic (RB)
3. Ryan Fitzpatrick (QB)
4. Jon Bostic (LB)
5. Joey Slye (K)
The others: Ricky Seals-Jones (TE), DeAndre Carter (WR), Adam Humphries (WR), Cam Sims (WR), Cornelius Lucas (OT), Kyle Allen (QB), Darryl Roberts (CB), Bobby McCain ( CB), Danny Johnson (CB), Jarred Norris (OLB), Joey Slye (K), Troy Apke (S)
Retained by the franchise tag for the past two seasons, Brandon Scherff should finally be released by Washington. Among the best in his position, the fivefold All Pro has always been beyond reproach. But after two years of unsuccessful contract negotiations, there is little chance that it will materialize this year. Barely two quarters played before being injured and ending his season, the experience in Washington was short for Ryan Fitzpatrick. With Tyler Heinicke and the possibility of going for a quarterback soon enough in the draft, the veteran could be invited to resume his tour of the NFL.
Able to offer solutions on the ground as well as in the air, McKissic showed that he could be a reliable number 2 behind Antonio Gibson. But rather than pull out the checkbook to retain its runner, the team should give more responsibility to the promising Jaret Patterson. Already not very rich in talent, the squad of receivers could lose several rotation players. DeAndre Carter, having demonstrated abilities on return kicks, could be retained.
Arrived during the season Joey Slye had the merit of giving satisfaction by succeeding in particular all these field goals. A reliability that could push his team to retain him.
Top 5 Needs
If Tyler Heinicke is far from being ridiculous, he is not the type of quarterback to attack and take his team to the next level. With a young and talented team, a pitcher remains the missing link to regularly compete for the leading roles. And to support a future attack leader, it will be necessary to surround him. If McLaurin is indisputable, Curtis Samuel has spent most of his year in the infirmary, and Dyami Brown has so far disappointed. The squad needs to strengthen qualitatively and qualitatively both for its quarterback and to take some pressure off its number one receiver. In progress this season, the offensive line could again be a building site depending on the future of the two starting guards. Injecting youth and talent could be one of the front office priorities.
The second-highest pass defense in 2020, Washington dipped to 29th in 2021. The defensive backfield has disappointed overall and will need to be strengthened over the spring. The safety post in particular remains the main axis of progression for Ron Rivera’s men.
Marcus Maye (S)
If other priorities should take precedence during the draft, the position of safety could be considered as early as March by the Commanders. With big names available on the market, the team could land a good deal on Marcus Maye. The player has established himself in recent seasons as a reliable and consistent player. After the departure of Jamal Adams, he became the leader of the New York backfield. Injured in the Achilles tendon during the season, he will be back on his feet for the start of the season. His addition would be an immediate added value in this backfield in search of certainty.
The new blood
Matt Corral (QB)
In search of a future quarterback to lead the attack, Washington could find the perfect profile with Matt Corral. The Ole Miss player is coming out of a magnificent season. He proved that he knew how to be precise, including at long distances. Extremely mobile, he also knows how to get yards (or touchdowns) on the run. A welcome double threat for an attack in search of creativity. A leader at heart, he could provide Commanders with a conquering and fighting spirit.
Other possible choices: Kenny Pïckett (QB), Sam Howell (QB), Charles Cross (OT)