SiriusXM NFL Radio co-host of Movin’ the Chains and former General Manager Pat Kirwin always speaks about the three R’s when it comes to roster building in the National Football League - re-sign, release and restructure. This is a game the Washington Commanders need to strategically play in the 2023 offseason so they can set their team up to take much-needed steps forward in the building process.
There is no doubt this team needs a new play-caller under center, new lineman up front and depth at linebacker and defensive back. Washington will have to be creative with player moves and the salary cap in order to fill these needs and stay competitive in the NFC.
Below are players who I believe the team should exercise the three R’s with.
Daron Payne - Payne is Washington’s biggest free agent this offseason. The contract the team gave to captain Jonathan Allen should be where the front office is heading (plus inflation). Payne is still young (he turns 26 in May), and it’s important to keep the nucleus of the team together along the defensive front.
Cole Holcomb - Holcomb was heading for a breakout season before a foot injury ended it. Middle linebackers usually don’t break the bank, and seeing how Holcomb is not yet an established star in this league, he should be able to be re-signed for a modest amount. We all know that we can use as many quality linebackers on this team as we can afford.
Taylor Heinicke - Heinicke has shown his value as a backup, and every team NEEDS a quality backup. The issue here is just how much do you offer him to remain in Washington, and who will be the quarterback going into 2023? You can’t pay him like a starter (because he’s not one), but another two-year deal with maybe around $4-5 million per year could be enough.
Tyler Larsen - Larsen will turn 32 this summer, but the importance of a competent backup center who knows the offense can’t be understated. If he can fully recover from his dislocated kneecap, the team would be wise to re-sign him.
Carson Wentz - At this point, I think the writing is on the wall. This staff messed up royally by trading for Wentz and failing to put together a decent offensive line for him to operate behind. It’s now time to take higher round draft picks and the money they can save by releasing Wentz and rebuild the offensive trenches. At least one tackle and two guards are needed.
Andrew Norwell - The former Panther and Jaguar is a shell of his former self. He’s scheduled to make $5 million in 2023 and that’s $5 million too much! This team deserves better. Cutting him saves us just $2.3 million, however that’s $2.3 million that can go towards re-signing one of the above-mentioned players.
Charles Leno - Leno is signed through the 2024 season and is scheduled to make $12.5 million in 2023. The Commanders can save $8 million by releasing him, and I’d do just that.
Kendall Fuller - After a rocky start to the season, Fuller has played very well lately. He has a cap hit of $11.5 million in 2023 and cutting him would save the team $8.5 million. However, he’ll be just 28 in February, and he’s playing some good football, so maybe adding a few more years to his current deal, and spreading some money over that span, would be best.
Chase Young - This will depend on how Young looks when he returns to action after the bye. If he plays well, and looks like the Chase Young of 2020, it may behoove Washington to float him out there to “see” what type of offers they could get for the uber-talented 23-year-old pass rusher. Keeping the quartet of Allen, Payne, Sweat and Young could be tough, so at least LISTEN to offers for what other teams may feel is the most valuable piece of that defensive front. There could be two lines of thought here: 1) There may be a player Washington covets in the 2023 draft and extra high draft picks could help us get into position to land that player; and 2) A new owner (hopefully that comes in the Spring) may want to put their own stamp on the team, and stockpiling picks for 2024 where potential super star and hometown kid Caleb Williams is likely to enter, would be a perfect target.
Who should be Washington’s top priority to re-sign in the 2023 offseason?
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Should Washington at least entertain trade offers for Chase Young?
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Let’s see how he looks upon his return