On a day when the Hogs Haven headline for Ron Rivera’s press conference read, “We’re looking at a couple of options at LB right now”, the team went in a different direction in replacing the roster spot left open by the ACL injury to UDFA linebacker Drew White earlier this week.
Drew White injury
Let’s start with the injury to White. Here’s what Ron Rivera had to say about it at Wednesday’s press conference:
Unfortunately it is an ACL tear. You could almost term it as a non-contact. He had his leg planted, he went to make a turn and pivot off of it and his cleats stayed in the ground, unfortunately. It’s very unfortunate. He’ll go through the process with the doctors and the team will take care of all of his medical needs. He’ll be on IR.
White seemed to be popular among Washington fans when his signing was announced just after the draft, and many Commanders followers seemed to be hoping that the former Notre Dame linebacker would be able to make the 53-man roster, though, like most UDFAs, he faced an uphill battle to do so.
Thank you everyone for the kind messages and support. I’m incredibly lucky to be surrounded by such great people. This is just another chapter in the book I’m writing. I’ll be back stronger. #PVO— Drew White (@Drew_white11) August 3, 2022
White was waived with an injury designation on Tuesday. This is a mere formality; White will revert to the Commanders Injured Reserve as soon as he clears waivers.
So, didn’t Rivera say that the team would sign a linebacker to replace him?
There seemed to be an assumption that the front office would replace the lost linebacker with a new linebacker, possibly even looking to the veteran free agent market in an effort to upgrade the position depth. When the head coach was asked about this on Wednesday, however, his answer was not really that clear cut:
We’re looking at a couple of options right now and, we’re actually very pleased with what we’ve seen from the young guys. We’ll continue to go through these things with the scouts right now. I’ve been talking to [Senior Director of Player Personnel] Eric [Stokes], about what our plan is and what we’re going to look at.
As you can see, the coach didn’t actually say that they were looking at linebackers; just that they were looking at “a couple of options”. The assembled media seemed to accept this non-answer as being responsive to the question because no one asked a followup question. Ron Rivera might yet have a career in politics after he retires from the NFL if he can continue to craft answers like this one.
Overall, the head coach has been pretty cryptic about what he and his brainstrust are planning for the second level of the defense in 2022 as most Commanders fans (on Twitter at least) are increasingly losing their minds over the perceived lack of action to add to the linebacker depth.
It was all about the DBs
Reporters who were paying attention on Wednesday (that was most of them; maybe all of them) noticed that the team was trying out several players, and that they were all defensive backs.
Washington worked out a bunch of DBs today, per source: Brian Allen, De'Vante Bausby, Donte Deayon, Raleigh Texada.— Ben Standig (@BenStandig) August 3, 2022
Apparently, the plan the Commanders decided on was to enhance the cornerback depth, leaving the linebacker group alone. I guess Coach Rivera meant it when he said that they were pleased with what they’ve seen from the young linebackers.
It looks increasingly as if the coaches have decided that they have what they need to run their defense. In his previous comment (last week) on whether or not the team would be adding linebacker depth, Rivera said:
Well, we feel very good about the group. We like who they are. We think they fit for what we want to do and how we want to do it. We’re going to see what we got the first week before we make any decisions in terms of a veteran guy. We feel we got a pretty good group that fits what we want to do. Probably the biggest thing is it’s not just about the linebacker per se, as much as what we plan to do with the the Buffalo position as well.
I don’t know at this point if the coach’s plan at linebacker is to stand pat, or if they have a strategy in place to enhance the linebacker depth later — perhaps after Week 1 when the salaries of veterans are no longer fully guaranteed.
I have speculated along with the rest of the fan base ever since the draft ended. At one point, I thought that the front office was waiting for the cutoff on compensatory draft picks. After that passed, I thought they might be in negotiations with a veteran. When nothing happened, I began to think that the team might re-sign Landon Collins prior to training camp. At this point, the possibilities (other than the ‘stand pat’ strategy) in my mind would be:
- They want to sign a veteran, but haven’t been able to agree to contract terms
- They hope to sign a player or two at the end of preseason following final roster cutdowns
- They will wait until after Week 1 and sign a vested veteran to a non-guaranteed contract
Or maybe the 2022 plan really is to rely on Holcomb, Davis and Mayo.
The new cornerback: De’Vante Bausby
Bausby is a 29-year-old player who has bounced around professional football since 2015, spending time with the Broncos, Chiefs, Bears, Cardinals, Raiders, Patriots, and Eagles in the NFL, as well as playing in two other pro leagues. The 6’2”, 190 pound defensive back has played 26 NFL games, with 6 starts, but has not played in an NFL game since 2020.
In something of a continuing trend for the Commanders, Bausby’s most recent professional experience was with the USFL, where he was drafted in the 8th round by the New Jersey Generals. Bausby had 15 tackles and an interception playing for the Generals in the 2022 Spring league.
Bausby becomes, by my unofficial count, Washington’s 4th former USFL player. They had previously signed DeJuan Neal and Channing Stribling — both former USFL cornerbacks — in mid-July. This past weekend, former Philadelphia Stars offensive lineman Alex Akingbulu was signed by the Commanders.
This is not Bausby’s first time being a Commander. Bausby was phenomenal for the San Antonio Commanders during the AAF’s 2019 season, when he led the league in interceptions and pass breakups before the season came to an abrupt end in week eight.
Bausby’s professional career began as an NFL udrafted free agent in 2015 when he signed with Kansas City, but his rookie season came to an abrupt halt when he suffered a broken collarbone in minicamp.
He joined the Bears practice squad late in his rookie season after recovering from the injury, and spent the 2016 season on and off of Chicago’s practice squad and regular roster. He appeared in 4 games for the Bears, notching 115 defensive snaps.
In 2017, Bausby went to training camp with the Chiefs, but joined the Eagles practice squad for the ‘17 season.
The cornerback didn’t play in a regular season game in ‘17, but, in 2018, he was active for 6 Eagles games, playing 146 snaps.
In 2019, Bausby joined the Broncos and opened the season as the 4th CB on the team’s depth chart. A collision with a teammate in Week 5 caused a neck injury that put Bausby on IR and ended his season.
In 2020, Bauby played for the Cardinals in Week 1, but was waived after the opening game. He ended up re-joining the Broncos, and played out the 2020 season with them, playing a total of 277 defensive snaps for the season.
Bausby had a cup of coffee with both the Raiders and the Patriots in 2021, but didn’t manage to crack the 53-man roster with either team.
All in all, Bausby has been active for 26 regular season games across 4 healthy seasons (6 calendar years) in the NFL, starting 6 times. 15 of those games, and 5 of the starts, came with the Broncos. He had 6 games with the Eagles and 4 with the Bears, as well as his Week 1 game for the Cardinals.
In his NFL career, Bausby has played around 40% of the possible defensive snaps for the games he was active, indicating that the coaches are comfortable putting him on the field. All in all, he has 397 career defensive snaps and 182 special teams snaps. He has 60 career tackles in the NFL, and 8 passes defended.
Bausby can clearly hold down a backup & special teams roster spot in the NFL, and he dominated the AAF during his several weeks there. He appears to be another solid depth signing for a cornerback group that now has 11 total players, with all but 2 of them having solid professional backgrounds, increasing the odds that one of them will shine in the preseason and earn a roster spot.
Commanders updated depth chart
The numbers that appear beside some players’ names are 2022 cap hits per Over the Cap.