The Washington Commanders didn’t do much in the first week of free agency. The main defense you can make for the front office? They traded for Carson Wentz and his $28 million salary for 2022 just before the madness ensued.
That limited the team’s spending budget, so it didn’t come as a shock that Washington spent the first week of the annual sweepstakes spectating from the sidelines while making the occasional re-signing.
We’re hard-pressed to call the Commanders’ free agency a success in the early goings given how much talent they’ve lost, but retaining JD McKissic, Bobby McCain, Cam Sims and Joey Slye sure help atone for those losses.
So, where does Washington sit financially after the first wave? Do they have the necessary flexibility to make more signings? How much do the releases of Landon Collins (post-June 1), Ereck Flowers and Matt Ioannidis help matters?
Examining the Commanders’ cap situation after Week 1 of free agency.
Here are the respective 2022 cap hits for the players the Commanders have signed/re-signed in free agency thus far.
- Andrew Norwell: $2.78 million
- Bobby McCain: $2.78 million
- JD McKissic: $1.91 million
- Cam Sims: $2.563 million
- Joey Slye: $2.433 million
Yes, the Commanders have re-signed other free agents like Tyler Larsen, David Mayo and Daniel Wise, but the players listed above are the only signings that account for cap hits of at least $1.5 million. Taking that into account — plus the releases of Flowers and Ioannidis — Washington has $12.88 million available in effective cap space, according to Over The Cap.
That doesn’t account for the extra $11.88 million that’ll become available when Collins’ release comes into effect after June 1. That leaves the Commanders with roughly $24.76 million in available cap space. For those wondering, yes, that number includes the $4.4 million set aside for the incoming draft class.
That’s plenty of money to make a splash signing. With big names like Tyrann Mathieu, Odell Beckham Jr., Bobby Wagner, Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, Stephon Gilmore, Jarvis Landry and Dont’a Hightower all available at positions of need for Washington, the front office could sign one of them and no one would bat an eyelash.
The more likely scenario, though, is that the Commanders use their remaining cap space and adopt a quantity over quality philosophy. With positions like linebacker, tight end, wide receiver and depth on the offensive and defensive lines in need of upgrades, the team will likely spread the money around.
That’s simply the byproduct of absorbing Wentz’s full contract. Once positioned to make a big splash in free agency, the Commanders will be forced into making low-profile additions to ensure roster depth and balance.
It’s not ideal, but for a team that won seven games in 2021 with subpar QB play and a suffocating number of injuries while playing the toughest schedule in the league by most metrics, minor upgrades could make all the difference.