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Daily Slop - 25 July 23: Terry McLaurin makes his NFL Top-100 debut; high hopes & expectations for Sweat and Young in 2023

A collection of articles, podcasts & tweets from around the web to keep you in touch with the Commanders, the NFC East and the NFL in general

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Washington Commanders v Houston Texans Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

Commanders links


Washington Post

New Commanders owners may start from scratch in stadium search

The search for a new stadium is among new ownership’s long-term priorities, but the process is fraught with complications and will span D.C., Virginia and Maryland.

“We have no idea where we’re going to build the stadium,” said Mitchell Rales, the co-founder of Danaher Corp. and a top investor in Harris’s group.

The 190-acre RFK site is one option for the Commanders’ new home, but the federal government owns it, and its lease with D.C. includes restrictions on how the land can be used.

FedEx Field is a crumbling eyesore that Snyder had hoped to ditch for years. But measures to drum up competition between D.C., Maryland and Virginia proved fruitless. In recent years, team executives narrowed their focus on roughly six sites across the three jurisdictions that could be options for the team’s next stadium, including its current location in Landover. But multiple federal and league-led investigations slowed progress.

In Virginia, lawmakers have not reintroduced the stadium authority bill that failed last summer, and the earliest they could try again to form a stadium authority is during the next legislative session, which begins in January. Should the conversation restart, it could provide a financially enticing option to Harris; last year, lawmakers discussed incentive packages that ran as high as $1 billion before they ultimately scrapped the plan.

Last year, Maryland offered $400 million to improve the area around FedEx Field, but the money could not be used to build a new stadium. Gov. Wes Moore (D) has said he supports spending some taxpayer dollars to keep the team in the state.

Terry McLaurin ranked No. 94 on NFL’s Top 100 players of 2023 list

Back in 2021, Terry McLaurin was asked whether he deserved to be on the NFL’s annual list of top 100 players. His answer: “I think so,” before immediately following that up with, “Actually, I know so.”

“I’m already one of the top receivers in this league,” McLaurin said. “I wouldn’t say I’m No. 1 yet, but I’m definitely working to try to be the best. Seventeen’s playing hard every play, and you gotta come ready to play, too, because he’s gonna bring it.”

It’s taken a couple of years, but McLaurin has now been included on the list of the league’s best players. In the 2023 iteration of the list chosen by NFL players, McLaurin made the first appearance of his career at No. 94.


Washington Commanders training camp preview: Will Chase Young regain his old form?

The player with the most to prove: Chase Young, DE

This was an easy pick. He was the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2020 after Washington drafted him second overall. But since that point, Young has not made an impact — first because of his play over the first nine games of his second season (1.5 sacks) and then because he tore the ACL and ruptured the patellar tendon in his right knee. That injury sidelined him until the final three games last season.

Washington did not pick up his fifth-year option so Young will become a free agent after the season. The Commanders want to make sure he’s healthy — and also motivated. They have told him they’ll pay him if he produces, but he needs to make game-changing plays to get back on the track they hoped he was on after his rookie season. It would also elevate their defense.


NFL training camp: Top questions, roster projections for all 32 teams

We asked each of our NFL reporters what was the top question entering training camp for each team. They also provided their projections for every team’s 53-man roster.

How is QB Sam Howell progressing?

With new ownership, this is a must-impress season for coach Ron Rivera — and he’s entrusting the offense to a second-year quarterback with 19 career passes. It’s the sixth year in a row Washington will have a new starting quarterback. Rivera has started eight quarterbacks in his first three seasons, a key reason why Washington has not finished with a winning record. Is Howell the guy to provide a longer-term solution? They like Howell’s traits and his progression from this time last year, not to mention the talent around him. But Howell is an inexperienced quarterback playing in a new system under coordinator Eric Bieniemy. There will be growing pains. However, if Howell keeps progressing, Washington’s offense has a shot to be much improved at some point this season. If he doesn’t, they’ll resume a decades-long search for a long-term answer.

Riggo’s Rag

Ranking Commanders’ offensive position groups against NFC East rivals in 2023

How does the Washington Commanders offense compare to those within the division?

Commanders position groups vs. NFC East - OL

1. Philadelphia Eagles

The Philadelphia Eagles have built the best offensive line football by blending two Pro Football Hall of Fame caliber vets (Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson) with young All-Pro caliber players (Landon Dickerson and Jordan Mailata). Their biggest concern this year will be replacing the fifth member of that line – left guard Isaac Seumalo, who signed as a free agent with the Pittsburgh Steelers this off-season.

Cam Jurgens or Tyler Steen – both Day 2 draft picks from quality college programs could take over. The former is likely to be Kelce’s eventual replacement at center and the latter is slated to take over at tackle when Johnson calls it quits. But for now, either could play guard.

This being the Eagles, they have a plan in place for this year, and for the future. They always have to be concerned about Johnson’s lingering ankle issues, and so Steen may be pressed into service at tackle earlier than expected. But unless they suffer multiple major injuries along the line as happened in 2020, Philadelphia should be fine.

4. Washington Commanders

There’s a lot of wishful thinking going on within the Washington Commanders. If new free agents Andrew Wylie and Nick Gates can blend in at right tackle and center - if Sam Cosmi can stay healthy and justify his lofty draft status at right guard - if they miraculously find someone/anyone to give them quality snaps at left guard – then maybe this could be a decent line.

The Commanders may not be as reliant on health as the other teams in the division because the drop-off from the starters to the backups isn’t as pronounced. But that’s because those starters, though decent, are not special.

If rookies Ricky Stromberg and Braeden Daniels are able to start by the end of the year, that would be a major step toward rebuilding a current liability.

Commanders position groups vs. NFC East - WR

1. Washington Commanders

Curtis Samuel should benefit a great deal from having Eric Bieniemy designing plays. Previous offensive coordinator Scott Turner seemed destined to force-feed him on screens and sweeps that never worked.

Bieniemy has juggled receivers in the Samuel mode for years with the Kansas City Chiefs, and seems to always get the best out of them. If he works his magic with the dynamic weapon, this could be the best trio of wideouts in the league.

Terry McLaurin is already one of the best and Jahan Dotson shows signs of being a big-time playmaker. There is even renewed hope that Dyami Brown could live up to his third-round draft status now that he will be reunited with college quarterback Sam Howell.

4. New York Giants

On paper, the New York Giants receivers don’t scare anyone. Darius Slayton is too streaky. Sterling Shepard is too old. Wan’Dale Robinson is too injured. Parris Campbell never lived up to his potential on the Indianapolis Colts.

Yet somehow, a guy like Isaiah Hodgins manages to catch a crucial touchdown against the Commanders when it really matters. I still don’t think the Giants have a very good receiving corps, but I’ve learned not to totally discount them.


Commanders Release Andrew Norwell

The Washington Commanders released veteran left guard Andrew Norwell on Monday, ending his short-lived tenure in burgundy and gold.

Norwell, 31, was brought in last offseason along with former Carolina Panthers teammate Trai Turner in a cost-cutting bid to retool the offensive line after Brandon Scherff’s free-agent departure (the team decided to let Scherff walk after failing to sign him long-term and tagging him twice).

His release, anticipated for months, will save Washington $2.28 million against the salary cap but will also incur a $2.8 million dead money hit in the process. His contract tied him to the team until 2026, but he had three voidable years on the back end.

Sports Illustrated

Badgley vs. Slye: Commanders Sign New Kicker - NFL Tracker

The Washington Commanders will look to sign kicker Michael Badgley for a training camp competition against Joey Slye.

Badgley has bounced around the league throughout his five-year career, spending his first three seasons with the Los Angeles Chargers but splitting each of the last two years with multiple teams. In his career, he has made 81.7 percent of his field goals with a long of 59 yards, as well as 96.9 percent of his extra points.

In 12 games with Detroit last season, Badgley made 20 of his 24 field goals and all 33 of his extra points.

This could mean that Joey Slye, Washington’s current kicker, is having his seat turned up a few degrees. Slye made 25 of his 30 field goal attempts last season while connecting on 24 of 28 extra point attempts.

Sports Illustrated

NFL Power Rankings: Commanders ‘Difficult to Buy In?’

The Washington Commanders are a mysterious team this season given their quarterback situation with Sam Howell and Jacoby Brissett. Where does that put them in the NFL power rankings?

The biggest question mark of all comes at the quarterback position, where Sam Howell is expected to be the full-time starter, despite starting just one game last season.

Howell showed flashes in the 26-6 win over the Dallas Cowboys, but that game wasn’t enough for people to be confident that he is going to be the next quarterback to lead Washington to the playoffs.

“It’s difficult to buy into anything regarding the Washington Commanders when the organization made the conscious decision to name Sam Howell its starter based on one appearance by last year’s 144th overall draft pick,” Bleacher Report said.

The Commanders’ low ranking isn’t about what the team currently has ... a strong defense, talented receivers and new momentum surrounding the organization after former owner Dan Snyder’s exit. It’s about what the team doesn’t have ... a legitimate sure-fire answer at quarterback.

Commanders Wire

Ranking Commanders 25 most important players for 2023: No. 5

We continue our countdown today with No. 5, defensive end Montez Sweat.

Yesterday it was Young; now, it is Sweat. That’s by design. We know if Young is healthy and plays to his talent level, he could be the most important player on the team. However, Sweat is entering his fifth NFL season and is mostly always on the field.

Sweat had an outstanding 2022 season. While some will look at his sack totals [8] to determine how successful his season was, that’s often a flawed metric. Sweat is terrific against the run. He’s also a good pass rusher, and, as defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio said, if he finishes just a bit more, his numbers could explode.

Pro Football Focus ranked Sweat as one of the NFL’s top Edge rushers in 2022, as he recorded an 86.4 overall grade.

While Washington has excellent backups in Efe Obada, James Smith-Williams and Casey Toohill, losing Sweat would be a massive blow to the defense. The coaching staff knows how important Sweat is to every aspect of the defense.


NFC East links

Blogging the Boys

Cowboys training camp notes: Jourdan Lewis could start on PUP, Zack Martin watch is on

Cowboys news on the eve of training camp includes updates on Jourdan Lewis, Terence Steele and Zack Martin

The biggest news is that veteran cornerback Jourdan Lewis could be starting camp on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. He suffered a severe foot injury in Week 7 last season and is apparently still having some issues.

While this would be a long timetable for recovery, it’s important to note that the rules around the PUP list also play a role here. Players who start camp on PUP have more flexibility in terms of return time, especially if they remain there through the preseason. Given Lewis’ experience, Dallas may prefer to give practice reps to younger prospects and ease him back in later.

All-Pro guard Zack Martin is still rumored to be holding out for an improved contract. The 32 year old is trying to capitalize on still being arguably the league’s best guard before he gets too old to expect max money. Missed practice won’t hurt Martin in 2023, but it could affect the line’s chemistry, especially with other moving parts to consider.

Big Blue View

Giants ‘messed up’ with Saquon Barkley, says NFL analyst Ross Tucker

Host of Ross Tucker Football Podcast joins ‘Valentine’s Views’ podcast

“I think they messed up here, and I’ll tell you why,” Tucker, host of the Ross Tucker Football Podcast, said. “I think on paper, especially given his injury history, it makes perfect sense. Tag him this year for $10 million, have him for the whole year, tag him again next year, $12 million or whatever, have him for that whole year. And by then you move on or you draft another running back or whatever, right? Because what are the odds that Saquon’s still explosive, still healthy, still productive in 2025? Totally, totally get that mindset.”

Tucker said, though, that “the locker room matters.” We have already seen Xavier McKinney express strong support for Barkley.

“What I would argue is they were close enough that I think it would’ve made sense to get that deal done,” Tucker said. “Give him another million a year if that gets it done. Give him two more million guaranteed if that gets it done because the games are not played on paper, the locker room matters.

NFL league links


Over the Cap

Contract Fate

To gather the data required to measure contract fate, I took a look at all inactive contracts in OTC’s database of two or more seasons in length that were signed since 2011 where the starting year of the new contract took place when the player became a vested veteran, meaning that the player would accrue four or more seasons by that season. A little more than 2,000 contracts over this 12 to 13 year span were considered. Contracts were classified into five buckets:

  • Terminated: the team cut the player before his contract expired
  • Pay Cut: the team and player renegotiated to an Average Per Year (APY) that was lower than the APY of the original contract.
  • Expired: the entirety of the contract was executed.
  • Pay Raise: the team and player renegotiated to an APY that was higher than the APY of the original contract.
  • Extension: the existing contract was deemed to be extended in OTC’s database.

The first two contract fates are deemed to be negative for the player, the final two deemed to be positive for the player, while expiring contracts are deemed to be a fair fate for both the player and team.

[T]he odds are close to 2:1 that the team will force these negotiations every other year for most players, whether they want to or not. Furthermore, there is asymmetry in that the team can choose whether or not to continue the contract at their will, whereas the player cannot.