With free agency knocking on the door, teams around the NFL are busy releasing players to free up cap space. While the Washington Commanders haven’t technically joined in on the fun yet, the expectation is that they’ll release Landon Collins after both sides failed to negotiate a restructured contract.
Essentially, the Commanders asked Collins to take a pay cut, which would’ve been the second under the current terms of his contract (six years, $84 million), and the former All-Pro refused, which isn’t all that surprising.
If you can believe it, Collins’ release reiterates Washington’s need to upgrade the linebacker position this offseason.
Luckily for the Commanders, one of the top players in the league in that regard became available when the Seahawks released Bobby Wagner. The eight-time Pro Bowler should top the team’s shopping list, but there are likely at least a dozen teams vying for his signature.
Should Wagner sign elsewhere, the Cardinals’ surprise release of Jordan Hicks gives Washington a perfect fallback option.
The Commanders should sign Jordan Hicks if their pursuit of Bobby Wagner goes awry.
Talk about being handed a get out of jail free card, right?
Simply put, Hicks is one of the most underrated linebackers in the league. That’s not surprising given how many elite talents there are at the position, but he deserves more recognition as an upper-echelon contributor.
A former third-round pick of the Eagles back in 2015, Hicks recorded 100 or more tackles in all three of his seasons in Arizona. He missed just one game during that span while playing 96.3 percent of the snaps, which speaks volumes given the Cardinals have taken a LB in the first round in the last two drafts.
There’s likely no love lost between Washington fans and Hicks given his ties to Philadelphia, but he’d step right in as a vocal leader of the defense.
While his consistency is undeniable Hicks’ most intriguing intangible might be his mentality. Last offseason, he appeared on his way out of Arizona after the team drafted Zaven Collins to start over him. After requesting a trade, Hicks put his head down and earned back his starting job.
The trade request might not resonate with fans, but put yourself in his shoes for a moment. How would you feel if your GM called you to say your starting job was being handed to a rookie who had yet to step foot on an NFL field?
At that point, Hicks had played all 32 games since signing with the Cardinals and had the sixth-most tackles and snaps spanning 2019 and 2020. He was initially peeved, but ultimately came to an understanding of the decision.
How did Hicks respond? Starting (!) all 17 regular-season games while compiling 118 tackles, seven tackles for loss, a career-high four sacks, five passes defended and a 76.2 pass-rush grade from Pro Football Focus.
Hicks is your standard do-it-all inside linebacker who excels getting after the quarterback and against the run. We don’t know about you, but we’d be pretty excited about a starting LB trio of Hicks, Cole Holcomb and Jamin Davis.
Yes, Wagner should be the Commanders’ top choice, but Hicks is probably the next-best linebacker on the open market after getting released.