Tomorrow at 12pm is the start of the NFL’s “legal tampering period” which is poorly named idea that lets teams make deals with players without making them official. Players are not allowed to talk to teams directly, and deals can’t be signed. The tampering period has been going on for the last few months, but now the Adam Schefter’s and Ian Rapoport’s of the world can tweet out the new deals. Free agency officially kicks off on Wednesday, March, 16th at 4pm. The NFL set the salary cap at $208.2 million, a $25.7 million increase from last season’s COVID-19 affected number.
The big question going into Ron Rivera’s third season in Washington was quarterback, and they were very loud about their expansive search. There started with a list of 40+ QBs and reportedly called every team that might have one available for trade. Washington made a huge offer for Seattle Seahawks QB that included three 1st round picks, but he chose the Denver Broncos as his new home. Washington quickly moved on to Carson Wentz, sending mid round picks to the Indianapolis Colts to acquire him and his $28 million contract. Two of Washington’s QBs from last season won’t be back(Ryan Fitzpatrick, Kyle Allen)
That deal had immediate effects on Washington’s free agency strategy. The quarterback position was always expected to eat up a sizable amount of their $33 million budget. The Wentz deal reportedly changed the negotiations that were ongoing with LB/S Landon Collins. He said he had agreed to a pay cut, but after the Wentz deal he was asked to take another one. That didn’t go over and he will be released after 3 years of his 6 year deal. That move will save Washington $6.5 million heading into free agency, and they are likely to try to clear up more cap space before the start of the new league year on Wednesday.
One player who won’t be taking up a significant amount of the cap this year is Right Guard Brandon Scherff. He received the franchise tag the last two seasons, and had an $18 million cap hit last year. The team once again failed to work out a long-term deal with the All-Pro offensive lineman. Scherff has said he wants t finish his career here, but it always seemed like he was biding his time until he hit free agency. Washington has been trying to make his “wish” a reality since after his third season, but he seems destine to move on to a team in the Mid-West.
Washington has several free agents they want to bring back, but they haven’t been offered new deals. GM Martin Mayhew spoke at the Combine when Washington’s QB situation was still unresolved and talked about the uncertainty that brought heading into free agency. QB is expected to be solved this year, but now the cap is a real issue that needs to be managed. Mayhew said the team was going to let free agents like Cam Sims, J.D. McKissic, and Bobby McCain hit free agency, but they did want them back. They are hoping these players don’t get signed immediately, and give them an opportunity to make competitive offers if possible. McKissic is expected to get strong interest in free agency and might move on to a new team.
Mayhew says Commanders met with Cam Sims agent yesterday and have meetings set with reps for JD McKissic and Bobby McCain. Mayhew says Washington wants all 3 back if deals can be agreed.— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayNBCS) March 2, 2022
One other nugget from Mayhew: He said no offers have been made to their pending free agents... Said they told them to keep them apprised during the open negotiating period; they do want them back. Part of the issue: Until QB situation resolved, might not know all they can spend.— John Keim (@john_keim) March 2, 2022
Mayhew was also asked about WR Terry McLaurin who is entering the final year of his rookie contract. He and Ron Rivera have both strongly stated they want McLaurin back for obvious reasons. They met with McLaurin’s agent at the NFL Scouting Combine on Friday, March 4th, but there hasn’t been much word about negotiations at this point. He is expected to want at least $20m/year, and Washington should be trying to lock up their #1 WR as soon as possible.
Free Agents not mentioned:
WR DeAndre Carter - Expected to get an offer
WR Adam Humphries - No word on Washington’s interest/have other options
TE Ricky Seals-Jones - Team could re-sign if they don’t go after a vet like Zach Ertz
OT Cornelius Lucas - Only returning on a cheap deal
RG Jamil Douglas - possible camp body
C Tyler Larsen - returning from Achilles injury
DL Tim Settle - Expected to have strong interest in FA
DE Nate Orchard - possible camp body
LB Jon Bostic - unlikely to return
LB Jared Norris - possible depth signing/easily replaced
CB Darryl Roberts - possible depth signing/easily replaced
CB Torry McTyer - returning from an ACL injury
CB Danny Johnson - would likely be offered a vet-min deal
S Troy Apke - Washington hasn’t checked in with him prior to FA
K Joey Slye(RFA) - Washington is expected to sign him to a new contract