What’s been the Washington Commanders best move of free agency? We’d argue re-signing Cornelius Lucas is the most important move given he can start at both tackle positions. While 2021 second-rounder Sam Cosmi showed promise as a rookie, injuries limited him to just nine starts.
That’s not going to cut it. You also have to consider that Charles Leno will turn 31 in October. Though he hasn’t missed a start since 2016 (97 straight), Washington can’t bank on that incredible streak continuing in his age-31 season, so Lucas returning might just be the team’s most underrated move.
In terms of the Commanders’ best move, though, JD McKissic has to take the cake, no? While third-down running backs can be found everywhere, you can’t understate how vital he was to the offense (and locker room) in 2020 and 2021.
For a while there, it looked as though McKissic would be leaving Washington to join maybe the current Super Bowl favorites, the Buffalo Bills.
After the Commanders matched Buffalo’s offer, the 28-year-old seemingly didn’t think twice about rejoining his former team.
In fact, in describing his decision to spurn the Bills with the local media, it became clear that the only way McKissic was going to leave this offseason was if Washington never made an attempt to re-sign him.
JD McKissic opened up on why he re-signed with the Commanders.
"“Much respect to the organization, you can’t ask for a better organization to be chosen by,” McKissic said. “But I had unfinished business in Washington. The way we left off, I felt like we were inclining and, with my injury, I had things I wanted to prove in Washington. So Washington is home.”“I made my decision off where I wanted to be. Like I said, Washington is home for me and I know Buffalo has a great organization, they’re doing some great things. But I feel like we can do great things here as well and that was my whole thing.”"
Our immediate reaction to those quotes? What the heck was Washington thinking letting McKissic test the market? It doesn’t technically matter in the grand scheme of things, but they played a dangerous game allowing the versatile RB to negotiate with other teams. Luckily for them, McKissic’s loyalty rang true.
And speaking of that “unfinished business” McKissic was referring to, he believes Washington was on the verge of achieving something special last campaign before injuries and a December COVID outbreak upended their season.
"“You watch last year, we had a lot of guys go down and we also had a good period where we were doing great things. We were, I feel like, one of the hottest teams in our division at the time. A lot of guys went down and you can only go so far with that. Unfortunately, it happened to us but we’re looking to come on a bit harder than last year.”"
"“I’d be a fool to say that we wouldn’t [have made] a playoff run. I think we definitely would’ve been a lot more competitive and those guys were still out there battling, don’t get me wrong. They take it down to the end and they were still in it then. But when you have all your guys on the field I think you should be able to realize a whole different ending to that.”"
Yeah, it’s fair to say the Commanders have an absolute gem in McKissic. Could you imagine if they hadn’t made an offer at the eleventh hour? Not many players would bypass the chance to pursue championship with a bonafide contender to return to a team whose ceiling is probably winning 10 games.
Like Jonathan Allen and Logan Thomas before him, we hope McKissic re-signing and subsequently raving about the franchise and its culture convinces the likes of Terry McLaurin, Daron Payne and eventually Chase Young and other members of the young core to want to make long-term commitments to the team.
Hopefully those players they don’t even reach free agency.