The Washington Commanders reached the 53-man roster limit by Tuesday afternoon at 4pm as required by league rules.
Consider it an “interim” step. One look at the depth chart makes it clear that there’s still work to be done.
A few positions look fairly well “set”. Safety looks good, and the 6 receivers don’t present any surprises. Presumably, Dax Milne will handle punt return duties, while, for the moment, Antonio Gibson is the presumed kick returner.
The interior defensive line looks like I think most people expected, and there was never any doubt about the quarterback depth chart.
A couple of positions look like they may be carrying an extra player who could be in danger of losing his roster spot in the coming days — specifically, the 5 tight ends and 4 running backs. Health is the issue at both positions.
At running back, Jonathan Williams probably got his spot because of the bullet wounds rookie Brian Robinson sustained as the victim of a reported attempted car-jacking this week. I guess it’s possible that Robinson’s recovery may see him ready to play before the Titans game in Week 5, but if doctors say that his recovery is likely to take more than just 2 or 3 weeks, I imagine the team would consider moving him to the NFI list, which would mean missing at least the first 4 games of the season. I think we just have to wait and see what develops there. Until Robinson is healthy enough to play, Williams probably has a spot on the roster.
At tight end, I think Rivera would like to have carried just 3 players, but with the health of the top-3 guys having been a bit spotty during training camp, the team opted to keep 5. I think that one or both of the young guys, Armani Rogers and Curtis Hodges, could find themselves being waived and headed to the practice squad depending on the health of the Thomas, Bates and Turner, along with the “numbers game” as players are added at other positions.
Where might the team ADD players?
Well, for the first time I can remember, Ron Rivera has just 9 offensive linemen. He prefers to have 10 on the 53-man roster, so look for an addition there prior to Week 1 (unless the team is trying to ‘carry’ an injured player through a week or two; in that case, Ron could stick with 9 linemen and ‘elevate’ one or two from the practice squad to get through Week 1 until he has a better handle on the injury situation).
At cornerback, it seems a near certainty that the team will look to add a player — probably one cut by another team on Tuesday. Going into the season with just 4 cornerbacks would be foolish. The team had plenty of CBs in camp, but the cuts to the depth players at the corner position were announced one-by-one on Tuesday until only the 3 presumed starters and the rookie draft pick remained. Look for the team to add one, or possibly 2, CBs in the next day or two.
Linebacker has been the biggest head-scratcher all offseason. Most fans and observers have continually expected (and revised expectations) that the team would add linebacker help as the offseason has progressed. Moans of despair went up every time a veteran free agent linebacker was signed by another team. Following Tuesday’s cuts, the 5 guys remaining seem to comprise a fairly thin linebacker group. Most fans seem to have reached the point of believing that the coaches either have no plan at all, or they have a ‘secret’ plan to make a move with one or more players in the coming days. Of course, the calls for Landon Collins to return on a “cheap contract” continue on Twitter. It could be that former NFL linebackers Ron Rivera and Jack Del Rio simply plan to play so many 1 or 2 linebacker looks that they are comfortable with who they have on the roster. I’m totally befuddled at this point as to whether there is no plan, a secret plan, an agreement with Landon Collins (or someone else), or if they really love the 5 guys they’ve got. I guess we’ll find out between now and Week 2 (since they might wait until after the Jacksonville game to sign a veteran player if they don’t want to guarantee his salary).
I think I’ve covered every non-special teams position except defensive end. The final depth chart looks pretty much like I think we all thought it would. I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of the team trying to ‘upgrade’ by grabbing a young player they like who gets cut by another team and replacing Shaka Toney. I think Toney’s position could also be in jeopardy if the team feels that it needs to keep 5 tight ends and 4 running backs going into Week 1. Of course, there’s the possibility that Shaka Toney is the ‘secret plan’ at linebacker.
In any case, we’ve got a roster, but don’t get too comfortable with it just yet. I would expect to see between 1 and 4 new names on that roster before the team takes the field against the Jaguars.