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Daily Slop – 2 Mar 24: Evaluating Peter King’s proposed trade up to the 1st overall pick for Washington

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By: Bill-in-Bangkok

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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The Athletic (paywall)

Commanders march toward revamped roster by releasing Charles Leno, Logan Thomas

The Commanders announced the release of both veterans on Friday. Neither decision is surprising for a rebuilding team with new management after a 4-13 season. Washington also plans to release center Nick Gates at the start of the upcoming league year.

Leno, a three-year starter in Washington, held a $15.3 million salary-cap charge in 2024. Regardless, the Commanders face a gaping hole along an offensive line already needing upgrades. The 32-year-old Leno will undergo hip surgery next week. He sat out Washington’s final four weeks of the trying season after starting every game he’s played in since 2016.

Thomas, 32, caught 55 passes for 496 yards and four touchdowns last season after having 57 total receptions during two injury-plagued years in 2021 and 2022. Though a valued locker room presence, Washington saves $6.54 million toward the salary cap, with only a $1.75 million dead cap charge next season. The Commanders now have $80.5 million in effective salary-cap space, per Over The Cap.

Washington lacks a current succession plan for both positions. Swing tackle Cornelius Lucas is entering free agency, and 2023 fourth-round pick Braeden Daniels spent his rookie season on injured reserve with a rotator cuff injury following a dismal training camp.

Washington Post (paywall)

As top QBs spoke at NFL combine, Commanders began reshaping their roster

Washington cut TE Logan Thomas, LT Charles Leno Jr. and C Nick Gates, kicking off a roster rebuild

Only one of the moves is surprising: Leno, 32, was one of the team’s more reliable offensive linemen over the past three seasons and had a year remaining on his contract, which carried a $15.5 million cap charge. By releasing him, Washington will carry $8.3 million in dead money from his remaining guarantees that will count against the salary cap.

He is set to undergo hip surgery next week, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

Caleb Williams said it would be “cool” to land with his hometown team. The D.C. native and former star quarterback at Gonzaga College High was asked Friday about the possibility of playing for the Commanders, who have the No. 2 pick in the upcoming draft.

“It’d be really cool to be back there and experience that,” Williams said. “The meeting [with the Commanders] went really well, and everybody was in the room. So, being around everybody … [I got] a taste of how they are, who they are, because everything is new there.

“I played 30-something games, I believe,” he said. “Go ahead and watch real, live ball of me and see how I am as a competitor. … I’ll be doing the medical stuff — just not here in Indy. I’ll be doing it at the team interviews. Not 32 teams can draft me. There’s only one of me. So the teams that I go to for my visit, those teams will have the medical [information], and that’ll be it.”

Maye doesn’t think it would be weird to play with Sam Howell. Maye sat behind Howell at North Carolina in 2021 and considers him a mentor and good friend. They play the board game Catan and the video game PGA Tour together. But Maye brushed off the idea that it’d strain their relationship if Washington were to draft him to replace Howell.

“There’s a lot bigger problems out there in the world than being with one of your best friends in the quarterback room,” he said. “It’s not awkward for us; it’s just business.”

Maye said he has “a lot of connections” to the Commanders. Quarterbacks coach Tavita Pritchard recruited him in high school, and Kingsbury knows Phil Longo, Maye’s offensive coordinator in 2021 and 2022.

The Athletic (paywall)

If Commanders traded down from No. 2, what type of options would it create?

Of the 17 quarterbacks selected top five since 2014, only Joe Burrow and Stroud (based on one season) have met expectations with their original teams. Trevor Lawrence, Tua Tagovailoa and Kyler Murray have reached high-end levels at times. Jared Goff’s second conference championship came with his second team.

Bryce Young and Anthony Richardson were selected first and fourth, respectively, in 2023, but they require more time before assessing where they fit on the boom-or-bust scale. The jury came to dismal conclusions on No. 2 pick Mitch Trubisky (2017), Marcus Mariota (2015) and Robert Griffin III (2012) long ago.

Quarterbacks aren’t the only draft misfires. Washington grabbed Chase Young in 2020 and traded the Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2023 for a future third. Neither Young nor Griffin remained for a second contract. The last two players picked No. 2 overall, Stroud and Detroit Lions defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, look to be cornerstone pieces. There are rarely, if ever, sure things in the draft. And yet …

“Maybe they trade out,” another team’s high-ranking executive said of Washington’s possibilities, “but I’d have a hard time passing on a QB.”

What is guaranteed? Having the chance to add players with each draft pick you possess. Washington must determine if it prefers staying at No. 2 or trading down for a significant asset haul that may include a quarterback and set the overall roster for years to come.

“I think you have to weigh where you’re at as a football team,” former Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said, “but knowing as a football team, you need a quarterback.”

Combine notebook | Quarterbacks, wide receivers, running backs address the media

Marvin Harrison Jr. was not at the combine, so the attention was able to be dispersed to the rest of the wideouts. According to ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr., Washington’s Rome Odunze is the next best receiver available, and he certainly has plenty of confidence in himself.

When asked about 50/50 balls, Odunze responded with, “For me, it’s 100/0. Just me and the ball.”

— LSU’s Malik Nabers said he’s a “dog,” and his stats back that up. He finished his college career with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, including 1,569 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2023. Some believe that he is rising up draft boards because of his dominant skill set, and like Odunze, he has confidence in his ability to make contested catches.

“When that ball’s in the air, you know it’s mine,” Nabers said. “And when I’m able to get the ball in my hands, I’m able to do tremendous things with it.”

The Athletic (paywall)

What did we learn at the NFL combine about teams with top-10 draft picks?

Just about everything that goes on at the NFL Scouting Combine is a process of parsing between what’s real and what’s complete nonsense. There’s no public hand-tipping, only tightrope walking.

And with that in mind, let’s check in with the top of the draft and see where things are — and aren’t — as the 2024 NFL Draft evaluation process rolls on. Representatives from every team in the top 10 spent time with reporters this week in Indianapolis. What did we learn about their plans?

1. Chicago Bears

Additional picks: 9, 75, 111, 123, 143

The Bears appear to be in a situation where they’re trying to find a team to take Justin Fields so they can draft Caleb Williams. At the very least, they’re in the back end of their discovery process about that decision.

2. Washington Commanders

Additional picks: 36, 40, 67, 101, 103, 138, 181, 220

It’s an interesting situation for first-year Washington GM Adam Peters. The Commanders need just about everything, including a quarterback. And though Williams remains the favorite to go No. 1 (no matter which team is making that pick), it’s not a guarantee. If Maye’s the consolation for Washington at No. 2, so be it.

However, there are no simple decisions when it comes to selecting quarterbacks. Peters was asked this week if he’d consider making a move up to No. 1 to find the QB he prefers — a question he more or less talked around. The bigger mystery, perhaps, is what Washington will do if its grade on Maye isn’t that much higher [or actually lower] than its grades on, say, Jayden Daniels or J.J. McCarthy.

Peters, of course, was part of the San Francisco organization that selected Brock Purdy at the end of the 2022 draft. Purdy’s S2 cognition scores were on a Drew Brees level — something we’ve seen play out in real time on the field and perhaps proof Peters is going to evaluate the entire positional pool before making a move.

Bullock’s Film Room (subscription)

Commanders Free Agent Fits: Edge Rusher

Taking a look at a couple of edge rushers that the Washington Commanders could potentially target in free agency

Edge rusher is one of the Washington Commanders biggest needs this offseason. The team entered the 2023 season with only two defensive ends under contract beyond the 2023 season and those were both late round rookies K.J. Henry and Andre Jones Jr. Then, midway through the season, starters Chase Young and Montez Sweat were both traded at the trade deadline, when the expectation was the Commanders would perhaps trade one and extend the other. This means Washington desperately needs multiple edge rushers and will likely look to add some in both free agency and in the draft.

There are some big names in free agency this offseason in Brian Burns and Josh Allen, but it’s largely expected both will either receive franchise tags or agree to an extension with their current teams rather than hitting the open market. I’m not too sure the Commanders would have made a big play for either one anyway, given Adam Peters consistently has stated he doesn’t expect the team to spend massively in free agency.

But with that being said, the team does need to do something to address the position and does have a significant chunk of cap space in order to do it. So if there is a position they would make a big splash with, it would probably be an edge rusher. Remember too, the team needs more than one. While they could retain some of their own players, and James Smith-Williams is someone I think would make sense to bring back, an overhaul at the position is on the horizon. So with that in mind, let’s take a look at some potential targets.

Under the radar: Dorance Armstrong, 26

I could have gone with a number of Cowboys players in this spot because there’s a number of free agents from the Cowboys unit that Dan Quinn just coached. I mentioned in my State of the Roster post on the Commanders defense that Dante Fowler and Dorance Armstrong would both make sense for Washington to target in free agency. Fowler is on record saying he’d happily finish the rest of his career playing under Quinn, while Armstrong’s production jumped up sharply under Quinn. Both would make a ton of sense and both should be relatively affordable if the Commanders wanted to add both players.

But for this post, I thought I’d focus on Armstrong, as the younger player with a bit more upside than Fowler. Armstrong has very long arms that measured in at nearly 35 inches at the combine. Part of the reason why Quinn helped Armstrong become more productive was he helped Armstrong learn how to use that length advantage.


Commanders’ Jamin Davis avoids jail time on misdemeanor charge

Washington Commanders linebacker Jamin Davis avoided jail time for a misdemeanor reckless driving charge but had his license suspended for six months, according to court documents filed Friday.

Davis had been scheduled to face a jury trial in the Loudoun County Circuit Court on Monday, but his attorney, Mark Dycio, was able to resolve the matter on Friday without jail time. Davis was fined $2,500 plus $176 in court costs. He was sentenced to 180 days of jail time but with all the time suspended.

Davis had been arrested on March 28, 2022 for reckless driving after he was allegedly clocked in his McLaren going 114 miles per hour in a 45 mph zone in Loudoun County, Virginia, where the Commanders train. Two months later, he was convicted of reckless driving and sentenced to 30 days in jail, but he appealed the ruling. Because it was considered a Class 1 misdemeanor charge in Virginia, Davis faced up to 12 months of jail time plus a $2,500 fine.

Sports Illustrated

Commanders Draft Rumor: Washington Involved in Historic Trade With Bears

Could the Commanders be involved in a historic trade with the Bears for the No. 1 overall pick to draft quarterback Caleb Williams?

“Suppose GM Ryan Poles traded the top pick down one spot to Washington (which would take Caleb Williams), and got the second pick, a second-round pick and a 2025 first-round pick in return,” King writes. “Then suppose Poles traded the second pick to Atlanta at eight, and the Falcons picked one of the other quarterbacks. In return, Chicago gets the eighth pick, Atlanta’s second-round pick, and first- and second-round picks next year.”

If this scenario were to play out, the Bears would hold the No. 8 and No. 9 pick in this year’s draft, second-rounders from the Falcons and Commanders, and another three firsts next season with two more seconds.

Five firsts and four seconds is a great way to rebuild a franchise. Regardless of how great Williams could be, this would be a winning trade for Chicago’s franchise as a whole.

Would it be a win for Washington, though?

Simply put, yes. Williams has been compared to Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes ever since displaying elite quarterback play as a sophomore. Ask anyone in the Chiefs front office if they’d be willing to enhance their trade with the Buffalo Bills from 2017, from two firsts and a third to two firsts and a second. Without hesitation, the answer would be yes.

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Front Office Sports

NFL Combine Is Buzzing With Talk of Nearly $1B in Extra Salary Cap Space

  • The 2024 NFL salary cap is $255.4M, which is a $30M-per-team jump over last season.
  • Teams weren’t expecting such a big jump, but they’re loving it.

[T]he larger-than-expected increase came from more media revenue and deferred payments from the COVID-19 pandemic. “It saves you,” Beane added during an interview on PFT Live. “Maybe it’s one less guy you’ve got to release or restructure.”

So, that’s why the $972.8 million in combined extra 2024 NFL cap space is turning everybody into accountants. “Now maybe we can do more or plan more for the future,” Broncos GM George Paton said. “So it just provides us and really all the teams with more flexibility moving forward.” Even official team websites are leaning into the spike: “How the increased salary cap affects Saquon Barkley,” an article’s headline on the Giants’ website reads.

The combine, which began on Thursday, will conclude on Sunday. The official league year begins March 13, but the negotiating period with soon-to-be free agents begins March 11, and teams have already been allowed to assign franchise tags.

Originally posted on Hogs Haven