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Could Oday Aboushi be the interior offensive lineman that the Commaners should be looking for in ‘22?

They can’t all be home runs

Detroit Lions v Jacksonville Jaguars

The Commanders have a lot of guards, but only two that I would bet on to play well (Ereck Flowers and Wes Schweitzer) and one guy who may have genuine promise (Saahdiq Charles). The other four guys are, in my opinion, typical practice squad guys. They are unlikely to play in an NFL game until sometime around Christmas after three guys ahead of them on the depth chart have ended up on IR.

Washington needs another reliable guard that won’t cost too much. They can find him in free agency or in the draft, but the resources are getting scarce. Washington has traded away its 3rd & 5th round picks, though they picked up an extra 7th rounder in the Carson Wentz trade that we didn’t hear about until a long time after the compensation was first made public.

The salary cap space is a bit looser following reports that Landon Collins will never see an NFL field in a Commanders uniform, and there are still significant moves the front office can make to free up more dollars, but you don’t want to spend too much on a guard that’s not expected to start Week 1.

Enter Oday Aboushi.

Aboushi has been around the NFL for a while, and has played for 7 teams. Last season, he signed with the Chargers for a contract worth $1.6m, but ended up tearing his ACL in Week 5. That gives the 31-year-old guard enough time to rehab and be ready for the 2022 regular season — especially if the expectation is that he would provide depth (ie. sit on the bench until one or more starters is injured).

Prior to last season, Aboushi had never made more than $1.25m in any season, and in 2022, he’s likely to sign for a vet minimum deal or something close to it.

While he’s likely to be cheap, Aboushi isn’t some practice squadder who has rarely if ever been in an NFL game. Across 8 seasons, Aboushi has been active 70 times, with 47 starts. He has played 3,414 offensive snaps in his career (per Pro Football Reference), and has never had a season where he played less than 31% of the offensive snaps in the games for which he was active. He played 97% of the offensive snaps of his active games at right guard for Seattle in 2017, and 81% for the Chargers prior to his injury last season. He also played 722 snaps at left guard for the Jets in his rookie season.

Aboushi strikes me as the Ty Nsekhe of guards. He’s someone you can rely on to be ready and play well when your starter goes down.

He is almost good enough to be a starter, but somehow never seem to have gotten paid or established himself with a team for the long-term.

If you want an idea of what he’s capable of, take a look at this clip of him blocking Washington’s DL & linebackers in the Week 1 game of the 2021 season.

I see a guy who can block one-on-one or in tandem, who can smoothly hand off assignments and pick up another block, and who can transition smoothly to the second level and block in space.

Aboushi spent 2019 and 2020 with the Detroit Lions. In his final season there, he was active for all 16 games, getting 8 starts, and ended up playing 621 snaps on the season. Here’s what the Lions blog Pride of Detroit had to say about him when he was entering free agency a year ago:

Injuries forced Aboushi into first-team reps during training camp, and he used the opportunity to convince the coaching staff to hold onto him heading into the regular season. Even then, he wasn’t expected to be anything more than a veteran depth piece with minimal upside.

Actual role in 2020

16 games (8 starts)

PFF grade: 66.6 (27th out of 92 qualifying OGs)

Aboushi essentially jumped Joe Dahl on the depth chart for the final half of the season, and based on the overall level of play he provided, it was an earned promotion.

For a guy making just over $1m per season, that’s a pretty damned good review.

When Aboushi was injured in Week 5 last year, the Chargers fan blog Bolts from the Blue said that Aboushi had been “one of the most-consistent players along the Chargers offensive line” and bemoaned his loss.

Prior to the start of the season, after the Chargers had signed Aboushi from the Lions, the website did a review of Aboushi during last year’s training camp. Once again, they had clips of the right guard against the Washington Football Team from the 2020 season:

Aboushi is 6’8” and 308 pounds. Moreover, he is a UVa alumnus, which means that if he signed with the Commanders, he would be coming home to play.

This is not the kind of “home run” possible free agent signing that fans love to talk about in March, but in my opinion, Aboushi would be the kind of smart, low-dollar depth signing that the Ron Rivera front office has done well with in Riverboat’s first two seasons in Washington. The possibility of getting Aboushi on the roster looks like a solid single through the infield to me.

Poll

How would you feel if the Commanders signed Oday Aboushi this offseason?

This poll is closed

  • 65%
    Great! Another smart budget signing that adds depth to the OL.
    (420 votes)
  • 7%
    Coming off of injury? No thanks.
    (48 votes)
  • 6%
    Couldn’t care less. Minimum wage guards are a dime a dozen, and we already have 4 of them on the roster.
    (43 votes)
  • 11%
    eh, I’d be okay. Pass me a beer, would ya?
    (73 votes)
  • 8%
    Wait, did you say that the Commanders traded a 3rd & conditional 2nd to Indy for Carson Wentz?!
    (57 votes)
641 votes total Vote Now