Let’s look at the Commanders updated depth chart at the start of the new league year
The numbers that appear beside some players’ names are 2023 cap hits per Over the Cap.
Please note that assigned positions and color coding are my own personal opinions. They do not necessarily represent the thinking of Washington’s coaches or front office, nor are they necessarily consistent with fan consensus. This chart represents my interpretation, and may not reflect the thoughts of other writers on Hogs Haven. Finally, when it comes to backup players, I don’t put much effort into making sure that they are on the right or left or behind the specific player that they backup. I mostly just try to fit everyone on the chart efficiently.
The Commanders have 72 players under contract, if you include the 4 unrestricted free agents who agreed to terms during the “legal tampering” period. The roster currently comprises 36 offensive players, 33 defensive players, and 3 specialists.
The new league year started at 4pm today (March 15, 2023). This depth chart attempts to offer a snapshot of the roster, but this is a time of great fluidity in the roster, and news could be reported that puts the depth chart out-of-date very quickly. The expected salary cap situation will almost certainly have to be addressed between now and the draft, so this should not be viewed as a final roster of any sort — just a milestone marker on a long roster-building journey.
The key update since the previous article is that the team tendered Restricted Free Agent Jeremy Reaves. Jeremy Reaves had been on and off this team since signing to the Redskins practice squad in 2018. Last season was the first time that Reaves made the initial 53-man roster; he was voted to the Pro Bowl and to the AP All-Pro team. This was the culmination of 5 years in the NFL, but due to his up an down status, he entered this offseason as a restricted free agent. Washington has officially tendered him (original round/right of first refusal), which means he will be on the team on a one-year deal worth $2.627 million. Multiple reports have indicated that the team will continue to pursue a long-term contract with Reaves between now and the mid-July deadline for signing RFA-tendered players to an alternate deal.
I also made a minor adjustment to the depth chart, moving Danny Johnson into the slot corner position ahead of Rachad Wildgoose. I expect one or two additions to the CB unit, likely via the draft, and don’t discount the possibility of adding an experienced nickel corner via free agency between now and the start of training camp in late-July.
The biggest news here is the loss of Cole Holcomb to the Steelers. The Commanders reportedly tried to sign the 5th year linebacker, but either weren’t offering as much money, or Holcomb preferred to play in Pittsburgh.
John Bostic was not re-signed by the Commanders and currently remains a free agent.
The only defensive line player from last year’s roster who had remained unsigned as of yesterday was Efe Obada, who had joined the Commanders as a veteran free agent last year on a one-year contract. It was announced today that he has signed another one-year contract that will keep him in Washington for the 2023 season.
Center and guard
Another extension announced today is one that John Keim had continually reported was in the works — Tyler Larsen, backup to Chase Roullier at the center position, is staying with the team. Washington has had bad luck at center over the last two seasons with starter Chase Roullier suffering season-ending leg injuries in back-to-back seasons. Tyler Larsen has been his backup, but has also dealt with season-ending injuries the last two seasons. Larsen did start 8 games last year, and was considered a priority re-signing by the team.
Four interior offensive linemen who became unrestricted free agents at 4pm today have not, apparently, been extended by the team: Trai Turner, Wes Schweitzer, Nick Martin and Wes Martin. Wes Martin was drafted by Washington in the 4th round in 2019 but has struggled with inconsistent play and was on the field for just one offensive snap last season. The other three all joined Washington as veteran free agents during Ron Rivera’s tenure; all will be at least 30 years of age by the start of the season, and each of them started games for the Commanders in 2022.
In addition to Larsen being re-signed, the addition of former NY Giant Nick Gates in free agency, and the expectation that 3rd year player Sam Cosmi will move from tackle to guard, allowed the Commanders front office to get younger at the center and guard positions.
There continues to be speculation that starter Chase Roullier will be asked to re-do his deal to lower his cap hit, potentially by accepting a pay cut for the coming season. Roullier’s last two seasons have been cut short by serious leg injuries, and — despite the fact that he is probably the team’s most consistent and talented player on the O-line — there is no guarantee that the 30-year-old 7th year player will still be on the roster when training camp starts in July.
It appears as if the plan is for recent free agent addition, Andrew Wylie, who was last seen starting at right tackle in the Super Bowl for the world-champion Kansas City Chiefs, to take over at right tackle for Washington.
For the moment, veterans Charles Leno, who has started at left tackle for the Commanders for 2 seasons, and Cornelius Lucas, who has been with the team since 2020 remain on the roster, though both have significant cap hits, and either could become a cap casualty this offseason if Washington drafts an offensive tackle early.
Drew Himmelman was (re)signed by Washington as a backup at the tackle position. Himmelman was initially signed by Washington last season before being released almost immediately due to a failed physical exam. He will be looking to make the team as a developmental player, possibly on the practice squad.
It is widely believed that the Commanders will continue to upgrade the offensive line. They could make other moves in free agency, and will almost certainly add offensive linemen in the draft — possibly even with the #16 overall pick.
Nothing has changed with Washington’s tight end group except that the deadline for tendering Exclusive Rights Free Agent Eli Wolf passed without the team offering him a contract, so he becomes and unrestricted free agent.
Starting tight end Logan Thomas was considered by many to be a candidate for release or restructure this offseason due to his $8.75m cap hit and inconsistent play since returning from a devastating knee injury suffered in 2021, but at the Combine in February, Ron Rivera spoke glowingly about Thomas and the team’s expectations for him this season. There has been no indication that Washington has pursued any free agent tight ends this offseason, and the unit is fairly deep with young players who have all flashed potential.
The only news here this week is that there has been no news concerning 6th year player Cam Sims despite consistent reporting from John Keim that the team was hoping to re-sign the player who first joined the team as an undrafted college free agent in 2018. The signing of Marcus Kemp earlier in the offseason seemed to spell the end for Sims, as the two are very similar players, both contributing heavily on special teams, though Sims played an integral role in the Washington offense in 2021. Sims is the only veteran free agent whose name i have not removed from the depth chart, and this is due only to the fact that John Keim has reported as recently as this morning that the team continued to try to negotiate an extension with him.
Washington released veteran 3rd down back JD McKissic yesterday. J.D. McKissic had suffered season-ending neck injuries two years in a row, and was viewed as a likely cut candidate heading into the offseason. His release saved the Commanders $1.23 million on this year’s salary cap. Ron Rivera was skeptical about McKissic’s future after the season, and it would certainly have been a difficult decision to make after McKissic, who has given the Washington fans some fantastic highlight moments over recent seasons, reversed course and stayed in DC after initially agreeing to join the Buffalo Bills in March last year.
The team could look to add a low-cost veteran free agent before July, and will almost certainly add one or two young running backs as late-round draft picks or UDFAs to compete during training camp.
Big but not-unexpected news this week was that Taylor Heinicke, who had started 24 games for Washington since the 2020 postseason, was signed to a fairly lucrative contract by the Atlanta Falcons, bringing down the curtain on one of the more unusual eras in Washington’s very unusual quarterback history.
Today, it was announced that 8th-year veteran quarterback Jacoby Brissett will join the team. While Ron Rivera has previously said that 2nd year player Sam Howell will enter training camp as “QB1”, he has consistently said that a veteran would be brought in to compete with Howell for the starting role, and to mentor Washington’s 2022 5th round pick, regardless of who ended up as the starter.
Early reports are that Brissett’s deal is for one-year, and that it is worth up to $10m with $8m guaranteed. If those reports turn out to be accurate, that would indicate that Brissett is seen as a high-end backup who has the ability to earn the starting role. Jacoby Brissett spent a year with the Cleveland Browns, and was their starter while Deshaun Watson served his 11-game suspension. Brissett went 4-7 as the starter and was 236 for 368 for 2608 yards with 12 TDs and 6 INTs. He also had 160 yards on the ground with 2 more TDs.