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With free agency a month away, what does the Commanders’ 2022 depth chart look like?

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NFL: FEB 08 Super Bowl LVI - Super Bowl Experience Photo by Ric Tapia/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s been about a month since I last posted a roster update, and — honestly — not much has changed. When I last published the depth chart, the team had just signed CB D.J. Hayden.

The only real roster ‘news’ since then has been the signing of LB David Mayo, who is more of a special teams player than a defensive player, though he managed to keep last year’s first round pick Jamin Davis mostly on the sidelines in Weeks 17 & 18 of the Washington Football Team’s final season.

However, Deshazor Everett’s situation has clarified a bit with the news that he has been charged with involuntary manslaughter. Prior to that announcement, because he was on the NFI (non-football illness/injury) list, I had kept him in a dotted box at the free safety position, but I have now removed him from the chart altogether. Interestingly, the team has chosen to use his number (22) on most of its uniform displays as it has introduced the public to the new Commanders look. I’m not sure if that’s intended as a kind of moral support for the player, or a ‘safe’ number, since he won’t be appearing on the field in a Commanders uniform this year.

There are a few other adjustments to this latest version of the chart.

I’ve checked a couple of sources, and it appears that Jeremy Reaves is still under contract, so I have added him back to the chart. Somewhere along the line, I had deleted him. The same is true for 2nd year LB De’Jon Harris, who played 15 total snaps for the WFT in 2021; OverTheCap has him listed on the team, as do Our Lads and Wikipedia. That’s good enough for me for the moment.

On the other hand, OverTheCap lists both RG Najee Toran and TE Tyrone Swoopes as being under contract to the Commanders in 2022, but in trying to confirm that, it appears to me that they are not, so they do not appear on the chart.

On the depth chart itself, the numbers next to some of the names are the 2022 salary cap hits for players with a number over $1m, which I hadn’t previously updated from the 2021 estimates. The cap hits are all per OverTheCap.

Despite the presence of Jeremy Reaves, with Everett removed from the chart and Bobby McCain so far not re-signed, free safety joins QB and MIKE linebacker as “OPEN” positions, though, as I’ve pointed out before, one could argue that LB Cole Holcomb could be listed at MIKE. That seems a bit academic at this point. The team seems almost certain to sign a veteran linebacker when veteran free agency opens up on 16 March. The composition of the Commanders’ linebacking corps should become clearer when the first guy is added, and I’d be surprised if the group isn’t supplemented by a draft pick in April.

It appears that the team has 54 players under contract at the moment. That number will climb to 90 players shortly after the draft.

According to OverTheCap, the Commanders have the 9th-most projected cap space in 2022 at $31.9m (the Dolphins are estimated to have the most cap space at $63.8m).

At the moment, Washington has 6 draft picks in April, so there’s room to add as many as 30 players in free agency. The Commanders have at least 3 players who are Restricted Free Agents (Kyle Allen) or Exclusive Rights Free Agents (centers Ismael and Toth), and I suspect all three will receive tenders. The return of free agent JD McKissic just seems to make too much sense not to happen, and I imagine the same will be true for WR/returner Deandre Carter.

That will leave a lot of pending free agent re-signings in a sort of ‘limbo’ from a fan standpoint. How many players return will depend a lot on the assessment of coaches and the front office, and the strategic approach to free agency. I have players like Joey Slye, Ricky Seals-Jones, Adam Humphries, Cam Sims, Cornelius Lucas, Daniel Wise, Torry McTyer, Danny Johnson, and Troy Apke in this group — players who are NFL quality and who have contributed to the team in the past, but who also fall into the “replaceable” category where a different player from another team might be available with a similar (or better) skill set at a similar (or cheaper) price.

Awards season and the superbowl are behind us. The scouting combine is just ahead (the first week of March in Indy), but for NFL professionals, that is as much about free agency negotiations as it is about anything else. It’s now crunch time for NFL front offices and coaching staffs with regard to free agency.

The BIG QUESTION in Washington is the same as it seems to be nearly every season - who is the quarterback? But there are plenty of other questions as well, including the health of players like Chase Roullier, Chase Young and Logan Thomas, who are all returning from injury, the identities of Washington’s new free safety and linebacker, and how the team will bolster its receiving corps.

Nearly all those questions should be answered for Commanders fans between now and the 1st of May.