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Commanders Updated Depth Chart: Washington has a 90-man roster for the first time in 2023


NFL: Washington Commanders Rookie Minicamp Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Too many guys

With Washington coming to terms with 12 UDFAs following the draft, two players on the pre-draft roster had to go. We found out today the identities of those two players.

Many fans were anticipating the release of Andrew Norwell, and it seems likely that he will be gone at some point, but a number of people have reported that the team is waiting for Norwell, who suffered a hip injury near the end of the 2022 season, to get healthy in order to release him.

In the meantime, the team cut one of its 13 wide receivers and a linebacker.

WR/Returner Alex Erickson

Alex Erickson was brought in as a veteran free agent last year to compete for the punt returner job that eventually went to Dax Milne. Erickson spent the ‘22 season on the practice squad. The 31-yr-old Erickson was released today and immediately becomes a free agent, able to sign with any team.

LB Drew White was signed as an undrafted college free agent last year, but tore his ACL in the first padded practice of the 2022 training camp at the start of August. The 25-yr-old was waived today.

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 currently have 9 players under contract: 45 on offense, 42 on defense, and 3 specialists. Look for the team to make 2 roster moves (likely on offense) before the 12 UDFA contacts take effect on 11 May.

Punt returner

With Erickson gone, Dax Milne appears to be one of the few players on the roster with significant experience returning punts in the NFL. I searched about a half-dozen likely candidates on the roster and found only Danny Johnson, who has returned one punt for 3 yards.

When Ron Rivera was asked about the returner role today, he talked about the speedy undrafted receiver from UCLA, Kazmeir Allen.

Well, there are a couple guys out there, but one of the more notable a young man we got out of UCLA. He’ll wear number 10 out there — Kazmeir Allen. He played some slot for them, some wide receiver for them, some running back for them and then he returned both kickoffs and punts for them, and he did ‘em in the bowl game and the All-Star games as well. So he’s a young man that most certainly has gotten our attention and he’s a young guy that we went out and tried to make sure we were able to recruit and bring him in as a free agent.

While Ron is right about the kick returns, shows Allen as having been soley a kick returner and not a punt return man.

As you can see, he was a dynamic KO returner in his final two seasons, and he has blistering speed, so he may have all the skills he needs to succeed as an NFL punt returner. The release of Alex Erickson today indicates that the coaches have some confidence that he does. It will be interesting to see how things go with Allen in the return game in preseason.

The preseason comprises 3 games against AFC North opponents — the Browns, Ravens and Bengals. While the full schedule details have not yet been released, the Ravens and Bengals will both be home games, which means that if you live in the DC area, you’ll have two chances to get out and see for yourself if Allen has what it takes, and to assess the Commanders new additions on defense and our recently arrived offensive coordinator as a play caller.