Our first article looked at the defensive free agent options who may interest Ron Rivera in the coming days. Today, we’re going to look at some potential offensive additions to bolster the Commanders ranks.
Much has been said about Sam Howell being declared QB1 going into the off season programme. What is clear is that Howell will have the inside track to be the week 1 starter, but both Rivera and Martin Mayhew have made it known that they’ll be bringing in veteran competition for the job. Rivera also publicly stated that the Commanders won’t be in the market for one of the top tier, big name QB’s which would seem to rule out a move for the likes of Lamar Jackson, Aaron Rodgers or Jimmy Garropolo. Those names would come at the expense of either major draft or financial capital and while many fans would argue that it would be worth it (that’s a whole different article!), for the purposes of this piece, we’ll look at a few veterans who will come in and offer competition for Howell at a competitive rate. A lot of familiar names from the annual QB carousel have been thrown into the mix including Teddy Bridgewater, Marcus Mariota and Andy Dalton, but I’m going to throw in a couple of names that haven’t perhaps received as much attention.
Gardner Minshew (Philadelphia Eagles)
Minshew is almost the ideal candidate for the role that Rivera has outlined. A veteran with starting experience who could push Howell, but ultimately should be a capable backup. If nothing else, “Minshew Mania” would provide some entertaining moments and the man himself is a refreshing throwback to a different era. Many have forgotten that Minshew’s two seasons in Jacksonville were actually quite successful and productive, throwing 37 TD passes against only 11 interceptions with a QBR of 93.5 over 23 starts. Over the last two years, Minshew has backed up Jalen Hurts and seen only limited action, but did enough to show that he is capable of being a serviceable QB at worst if called upon, and he wouldn’t cost much.
Mike White (New York Jets)
Jets fans love Mike White (or maybe they just really dislike Zach Wilson!), and when the 6’5″, 220lb QB shredded the Bears for 315 yards and 3 TD’s in week 12, there was talk that he may have a shot at the job long-term. Unfortunately, White took two brutal shots a couple of weeks later against the Bills, breaking multiple ribs and was never the same player when he returned against the Seahawks in week 17. White is not afraid to throw the ball downfield, but his decision making has been suspect leading to too many interceptions. He has upside, starting experience and fits the model that Rivera is looking for in providing competition for Sam Howell.
Jacoby Brissett (Cleveland Browns)
Brissett has had a little more press than the first two QBs listed here due to the solid job he did in Cleveland last year and his previous starting experience. His services are expected to be in demand for a bridge QB/experienced backup role and he would certainly provide competition for Sam Howell (maybe too much!). He could potentially see the Commanders as a potential opportunity for a starting job if he feels it is genuinely an open competition with Howell. SpotRac calculates his value at $5.4 million, a reasonable price for a player with such experience.
Offensive Line Additions
The quarterback situation is intriguing, but it is the offensive line that will go a long way to determining whether whoever lines up behind center has enough time to make their mark. It is clear that a major overhaul of the offensive line is in order after a season where injuries and inconsistent play hampered the Commanders offense significantly. Center and guard were particularly troublesome, and the possibility remains that of last season’s roster, Chase Roullier, Andrew Norwell, Trai Turner, Wes Schweitzer, Wes Martin, Tyler Larsen and Nick Martin could be gone, either in free agency or through release.
The free agency market contains a few tackles who are likely to command big contracts (Orlando Brown, Mike McGlinchey, Kaleb McGary), and although you could make an argument for committing that amount of money (likely somewhere up to $20 million), it makes sense to draft one in either the 1st or 2nd round and sign one or more of the vast array of starting quality guards available. Here are a few options that the Commanders should consider:
Ep 113: The Patriots And The AFC East
by Full Press Coverage on March 17, 2023 at 2:14 pm
Nate Davis – (Tennessee Titans)
Davis is a solid, above-average guard who would command around $7 million per year according to both SpotRac and PFF. Davis has had some injury issues in recent seasons but has played solidly when on the field.
PFF’s Gordon McGuinness feels Davis is underrated saying “Nate Davis had his best season as a pass blocker, producing a 66.8 PFF grade in that facet and allowing just 14 total pressures over 385 pass-blocking snaps in 2022. While he’s not going to be a difference-maker on the offensive line, he could help a team avoid a weak link in the group. A better run blocker than a pass blocker, he has played 3,709 snaps and is just 26 years old as he hits free agency.”
The Commanders guard play was generally well below average last season, so Davis would clearly be an upgrade over the likes of Turner and Norwell.
Ben Powers (Baltimore Ravens)
Powers became the Ravens most consistent lineman last season, starting all 17 games at left guard, and helped them become the number-two ranked rushing offense in the NFL (160.2 yards per game), as well as grading out as one of the top-rated guards in pass protection. Ravens GM, Eric DeCosta acknowledged the strides that Powers took in 2022 saying “Ben has probably improved as much as anybody on our team,” DeCosta said. “He had a phenomenal season this year – started every game. I don’t even know if he missed a snap.”
DeCosta went on to add that Powers may now be too expensive for the Ravens to retain with a projected salary in the range of $10 million per year.
Dalton Risner (Denver Broncos)
Risner has been a solid, reliable left guard since entering the NFL four seasons ago. He has started 62 of 66 career games and according to Matthew Bowen of ESPN “He’s a close-quarters mauler at left guard who displays a strong and rugged play-style.
Risner ranked 10th in the league in run block win rate this past season among guards (74.4%) and he can set an anchor in pass pro.”
Risner’s market value appears to be somewhere around the same level as Powers, but it’ll be interesting to see whether the abundance of available guards suppresses their price, leaving some bargains to be had.
Isaac Seumalo (Philadelphia Eagles)
Seumalo could be a hot property when free agency opens with his ability to play both guard positions and even slide across the center being worth their weight in gold. He moved across the right guard in 2022 having played most of his career on the left side and was a constant presence, starting all 19 games and allowing just one sack and earning an overall PFF grade of 75.2. Seumalo missed significant time in both 2020 and 2021 but playing a full season in 2022 should alleviate any durability concerns.
Prising Seumalo away from a divisional rival would be a real coup for the Commanders but his projected $12 million salary may make it less likely that he heads to D.C
Andrew Wylie (Kansas City Chiefs)
Wylie may not be the Chiefs tackle that most Commanders fans would wish for but he may be the more realistic option. Starting all 17 games last season at right tackle, Wylie may be on new OC, Eric Bieniemy’s radar as a solid, dependable player who can also play guard. Wylie handled Haason Reddick in the Super Bowl, not allowing the dominant edge rusher to disrupt Patrick Mahomes and setting himself up for a significant raise from the $2.5 million he earned last year. He has expressed a desire to remain in Kansas City, and GM, Brett Veach has indicated that the Chiefs will be looking to bring him back, but a pay rise and the familiarity of continuing to work with Bieniemy may tempt Wylie to move on.
There are numerous other potential contenders available on the offensive line and it would be a surprise if the Commanders didn’t sign at least one or two during free agency with potentially another couple in the draft. The offensive line is a major priority, and it seems that this year is a good time to be addressing that issue with some of the players available.
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