GM Martin Mayhew dismisses idea that Commanders aren’t free agent destination
By Jerry Trotta
Most NFL fans wouldn’t admit it, but the Washington Commanders have an immensely talented roster. That’s a testament to the front office’s recent drafting history, as core players like Jonathan Allen, Terry McLaurin, Chase Young, Daron Payne and Kendall Fuller, among others, were all found through the draft.
While that’s an undoubted positive, it could be spun into a negative. After all, the Commanders haven’t found much success attracting big-ticket free agents to Ashburn. In fact, the two most high-profile names they’ve signed in recent years, Landon Collins and Curtis Samuel, have been disappointments.
While Collins will officially be cut after June 1, there’s still time for Samuel to prove he was deserving of a three-year, $34.5 million contract. But we wouldn’t fault fans who are skeptical about the speedy receiver after his debut season.
The bottom line is Washington isn’t what you would call a free agent destination for star-caliber players. Fans and the media have been preaching this for several years now, but general manager Martin Mayhew pushed back on that notion during the Annual League Meeting in Palm Beach this week.
Commanders GM Martin Mayhew doesn’t endorse the idea that Washington can’t attract free agents.
"“I don’t know if I would agree with that,” Mayhew said Monday, per NBC Sports Washington. “We’ve had talks with a lot of agents about players who want to come to Washington. So I wouldn’t agree with that assessment.”“Good players, they have options. But we don’t feel like there’s any stigma on Washington as far as players coming to us.”"
It’s not the most convincing of arguments, but Mayhew isn’t buying the idea that free agents don’t want to play for Washington.
Based on recent history, his comments hold some merit. Look no further than JD McKissic leaving the juggernaut Bills at the altar to return to Landover. While McKissic isn’t a superstar, spurning a championship favorite in favor of a team that hasn’t won a playoff game since 2005 speaks volumes, does it not?
A similar argument can be made for Andrew Norwell, who had multiple free-agent suitors and chose to sign with Washington, and David Obada, who “didn’t want to make the same mistake” in terms of not playing for Ron Rivera again.
Those names won’t move the casual fan’s needle, but it’s not like players are jumping at the first chance to leave the Commanders. In most cases, they want to say, including established veterans Jonathan Allen and Logan Thomas.
This isn’t to say Washington is a free agent destination, but extending Terry McLaurin and Daron Payne will go a long way towards flipping the narrative. Let them walk (especially Terry), and we are right back to square one.
But it’s clear a foundation is being cultivated.