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As the trade deadline approaches, Washington should be a seller

Washington Commanders v Chicago Bears Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

With the NFL’s trade deadline fast approaching, savvy teams are thinking about the best way to bolster their roster for a late season playoff run, or how to offload components that other teams might desire now, in an effort to build for the future. Teams have until November 1st, at 4pm to execute trades, and some are already getting started:

At 2-4, with the Carson Wentz experiment a pretty clear failure and the 2022 season now consigned to figuring out how to best position the team for its QB of the future in the 2023 draft, now is the time to take a hard look at the roster and figure out which players might be the most desirable targets for other teams in the league.

While some folks would love to be able to trade William Jackson III for a third rounder or Bobby McCain for a fourth, I’m going to try to keep this exercise grounded in reality, focusing on players who have actually demonstrated past talent and are playing well now, and who could help another team win games this year.

Daron Payne

I’ve been on the “trade Daron Payne” train for over a year at this point, not because I don’t like Payne, or because I don’t think he’s a very solid player, but because I don’t think it’s going to make sense to sign him long term for what it’s going to cost to do it. Jon Allen’s $18M AAV deal, signed last year, is certainly in the ballpark of what Payne will be expecting once he hits free agency.

Payne is young, still only 25 entering his 5th year in the league, and is playing as well as he ever has this year.

For teams looking for a way to bolster their interior defensive line, there may not be any better options out there for the next couple of weeks. At the end of the season, Payne is either a free agent, the recipient of a franchise tag (~$15M), or he will have been signed to a long term deal here.

Having already locked up Jonathan Allen, and facing contract decisions on Montez Sweat and Chase Young over the next couple of years, it makes little sense to place another massive investment at defensive tackle.

If Washington gets offered a 2023 third for Payne (a 2024 third is likely what he would bring as a compensatory pick if he walks after 2022), they have to strongly consider it. If they get offered a 2023 second round pick, they should jump at the chance. They’re going to need as much high value draft capital as they can get going into the 2023 draft with an eye to rebuilding.

J.D. McKissic (or perhaps Antonio Gibson)

With Brian Robinson back and, apparently, healthy, Washington’s running back room again becomes a strength. Robinson slides into the RB1 role, and Antonio Gibson transitions to more of a pass-catching weapon. J.D. McKissic slides into the background, fighting to get well under 10 touches per game.

Just two years off being one of the most productive receiving RBs in the league, McKissic was a hot target as a free agent this offseason, nearly grabbed by the Bills, before being coaxed back to Washington:

Though he’s signed through 2023, he’s badly underutilized in Washington when both Robinson and Gibson are healthy.

Washington should jump at any offers of a fourth round pick or better for McKissic, and seriously consider trade compensation as low as a 5th rounder. It’s a deal that’s best for the player, and better for the team long-term.

The other alternative would be trying to trade Antonio Gibson, and playing McKissic more. I would expect the trade haul for Gibson would be substantially more than for McKissic, but the best opportunity for that exchange may now be off the table with the 49ers trading for McCaffrey.

Kam Curl

This will surely be the most controversial of the proposed trades, with the 7th round rookie being a fan favorite - for good reason - and showing up as one of the best Day 3 picks in the league for the past several years.

With one year left on his rookie deal, Curl is a steal at about $1M per year. But, we can be certain that once he hits free agency after 2023, that number will spike dramatically. Top safeties in the league routinely pull in around $12M+ per year - unless they happen to be Landon Collins, pursued by a dull-witted owner, in which case the price spikes above that dramatically.

What’s the trade market for a top strong safety? It’s hard to say, but it would be worth testing. With Darrick Forrest on the upswing, and waiting in the wings, the drop off from Curl to a back-up may not be as dramatic as you’d think.

If another team were willing to part with a 2023 second round pick, or perhaps even a third rounder, it could merit consideration. That would allow the team to quickly re-load with top talent in next year’s draft, in the area of the draft sweet spot that has recently produced stud safeties like Jalen Pitre, Jaquan Brisker, Jevon Holland, and Trevon Moehrig.


Which of these trades would you be most likely to approve?

This poll is closed

  • 49%
    Daron Payne for a second.
    (865 votes)
  • 23%
    JD McKissic for a fourth.
    (406 votes)
  • 4%
    Kam Curl for a second.
    (87 votes)
  • 22%
    I’m not interested in trading any of them.
    (400 votes)
1758 votes total Vote Now