On Saturday, the Commanders announced some roster moves.
Kerrigan’s retirement becomes officially official
One of them was known to be happening — Ryan Kerrigan was moved to the retired player list after signing a one-day contract with the team on Friday. There was a ceremony for him at the team headquarters early Saturday morning. You can probably plan on seeing Kerrigan again several times in the near future. He is among the nominees to be added to the Command Legacy: 90 Greatest list, which will be announced this season, and Kerrigan seems like one of the leading candidates to be added to that list. It also seems almost a foregone conclusion that Kerrigan’s name and number will be added to the Ring of Fame; with London Felcher having been recently added in 2019, Kerrigan seems like the obvious next inductee.
Offensive line depth
The other moves are indicative of Ron Rivera’s never-ending efforts to insure that the team has the maximum depth and flexibility along the offensive line.
One player was released — guard Beau Benzschawl, who had been with the team since being signed as a free agent in April, 2021. Benzschawl was considered to be a pretty fair NFL prospect coming out of Wisconsin in 2019, but never made it beyond the practice squad in Washington. His only NFL regular season snaps came in his rookie season, when he got 6 special teams snaps with the Lions.
Two offensive tackles were signed. One is veteran Tackle Rashod Hill, who is entering his 7th NFL season; the other is an undrafted college free agent OT named Alex Akingbulu, out of Fresno State.
We have made multiple roster moves:— Washington Commanders (@Commanders) July 30, 2022
Placed DE Ryan Kerrigan on the Reserve/Retired List
Signed the following free agents:
--T Alex Akingbulu
--T Rashod Hill
Released C/G Beau Benzschawl pic.twitter.com/tZWzXDtbeL
Washington Commanders worked out offensive tackles Alex Akingbulu, Rashod Hill, and Tyree St. Louis— Scott Jennings (@ScottJenningsHH) July 30, 2022
Hill, who is 6’6”, 300 pounds, entered the NFL as an undrafted college free agent in 2016 with the Jacksonville Jaguars, but ultimately ended up on the team’s practice squad. Apparently, the Vikings liked him, because they signed him in mid-November, and he played 49 offensive snaps for them in Week 17.
Hill went on to play an additional 5 seasons with the Vikings. basically as a swing tackle, playing on both the right and left sides as needed when starters were injured.
Per PFF, his offensive snap counts peaked in 2017 at 737, and hit a trough in 2019-20, when he played 172 and 121 snaps, respectively. While his snap count went up to 342 last season, his PFF grade fell precipitously, which may explain why he was available in late July.
New #Commanders OT Rashod Hill was signed as a UDFA by Jacksonville when current Commanders FO exec Chris Polian was there, and spent some time in Minnesota with current Commanders OC Scott Turner. So there is familiarity #HTTC— T M (@reshmanuel) July 30, 2022
Hill is likely to be looked at as the #4 OT on the roster at the moment, with two starting positions locked down by LT Charles Leno and RT Sam Cosmi. Hill is likely hoping to be able to unseat Cornelius Lucas, who has played two seasons in Washington, getting 15 starts in the 29 games that he has been active.
If you trust PFF to rank your offensive linemen, then Hill probably has a real uphill battle to beat out Lucas for the swing tackle position.
Cornelius Lucas PFF grades
On Saturday, Philadelphia Stars offensive lineman Alex Akingbulu signed with the Washington Commanders. He is the second Stars player to sign with Washington after Channing Stribling, and the 3rd former USFL player to be signed this month (DeJuan Neal is the other).
The 24-year-old played five games at left tackle for the Stars, helping them reach the USFL Championship game, where the Stars fell short to the Birmingham Stallions 33-30. Before signing with Philadelphia, Akingbulu attended the Dallas Cowboys rookie minicamp.
Former @USFLStars T Alex Akingbulu has signed with the Washington Commanders. pic.twitter.com/RDi9LytWNa— USFL (@USFL) July 30, 2022
Akingbulu is 6’5”, 310 pounds, and is yet another UDFA signed by the Commanders this offseason who had a 6-year collge career. Let’s turn to USA Today’s draftwire for information about him.
The Fresno State offensive lineman broke out with a tremendous 2021 campaign, finishing as a first-team All-Mountain West nominee for his play at right tackle. A former UCLA transfer who suffered an injury that saw him miss both his 2016 and 2017 high school seasons, Akingbulu has had to do his fair share of waiting for his time to shine. However, once given the chance, he proved to be an anchor for the Bulldogs in one of the program’s best seasons in recent memory.
Quotes from Akinbuku:
Coming from a Nigerian household, that’s just something I remember my parents just preaching to me every day, to take care of your education. That’s something you could take with you for the rest of your life. I just got blessed and took advantage of COVID, and different situations of grad transferring and just furthering my education.
My parents coming from Nigeria here, of course, you come into a different country and continent, first thing you have to do is work hard. They landed here, that’s the first thing they did, and that’s the main thing that they preached is just being able to work hard. In America, there’s definitely a lot of room to grow, and a lot of room to up your status in this economy, so just knowing that your future’s in your hands, and if you work hard enough for it, then everything else will pay off.
It’s been a long college career. Six years, and I can truly say each year I matured more, developed more, learned my body more. It just kind of peaked off in this last year, setting goals for myself, listening to my coaches, listening to the guys around me; also, accepting the leadership role on the team. I put my all into this season. I can say, this is the most I’ve been focused and driven in my life, and just seeing that at the end, there’s accolades and things went in my favor, it kind of just shows you like, “Okay, if I put my best foot forward, I will get results.” That was the main thing I got from them.
I know now with all the maturity that I have, leadership roles do not necessarily have to come with age. I can bet on me being a vocal leader in any aspect of the team, just coming in and being humble, ready and hungry to learn and work. I’m always trying to better my game and just being taken under anybody’s wing, just pretty much hungry and ready to do anything and set my role. I can play either side and pretty much any position on the line, as well. [I bring] versatility and being able to be hungry.
Outside of football, I actually like to make music. It’s not necessarily rap – I don’t know if you know Afrobeats, like Wizkid and Burna Boy and stuff like that. To make that type of music, it’s therapeutic. My friend produces, and then I sing or rap, depending on the type of a beat. So I write music, and then I sing, as well. Me and my friends, we just mess around with that and then play video games. Also, I like to watch like podcasts a lot.
At the moment, the Commanders have 6 tackles under contract.
- Charles Leno
- Sam Cosmi
- Cornelius Lucas
- Rashod Hill
- Aaron Montiero
- Alex Akingbulu
Of course, the Commanders signed two players while releasing only one on Saturday; they had one spot available because 3rd year player Antonio Gandy-Golden got to training camp and decided that it was time for a change in his life. He announced his NFL retirement, dropping the roster from 91 players to 90.
While teams are typically limited to 90 players in the offseason, some teams get a roster exemption for having a player who entered the NFL via the International Player Pathway program. Washington is one of those teams — the Commanders get a roster exemption for DT David Bada, a player from Germany who is entering his 3rd season with the Commanders, and that allows the team to carry 91 players in the off-season.
Updated depth chart
The numbers that appear beside some players’ names are 2022 cap hits per Over the Cap.