With several teams around the league pushing the envelope, the Washington Commanders are biding their time in free agency.
Given that most of their impactful pickups in recent years — JD McKissic, Logan Thomas and Charles Leno — were made in the second and third waves of free agency, their conservative approach isn’t all that surprising.
In fact, the biggest news surrounding the Commanders during Monday’s free agency frenzy came in the form of a departure. That, too, isn’t shocking given this outcome was expected the second the 2021 regular season ended.
Not long into the legal tampering period, Brandon Scherff reached an agreement with Jacksonville. The 30-year-old guard’s deal is worth $49.5 million over three years and includes a whopping $33 million in guaranteed money.
While money was no doubt Scherff’s bottom line, could reuniting with a former Washington offensive line coach have influenced his decision to join a team that’s won a combined four games the last two seasons?
Commanders free agent Brandon Scherff intends to sign with the Jaguars. What influenced his decision?
While playing under former Eagles head coach Doug Pederson gives Scherff some familiarity in Duval County, Jaguars offensive line coach Phil Rauscher helped coached Washington’s offensive line for two seasons in 2018 and 2019.
The five-time Pro Bowler made 19 starts for Washington under Rauscher’s tutelage, so perhaps their history helped nudge him over the finish line. Unless, of course, the Jaguars handed Scherff a blank check and said “name your price.”
Whatever the case, we can’t help but feel that Rauscher had somewhat of an influence on Scherff’s final decision. Before signings started pouring in after 12 p.m. EST on Monday, Connor Hughes of The Athletic reported the Jaguars, Jets and Bengals were teams showing the most interest in Scherff.
The Bengals made the first guard signing of the frenzy, inking former Buccaneers starter Alex Cappa to a $40 million deal. That stage-setter was followed by the Scherff news, and Laken Tomlinson landed with the Jets shortly thereafter.
Assuming Scherff was in talks with all of Cincinnati, New York and Jacksonville, Rauscher’s presence likely gave the former fifth overall pick extra incentive (other than money) to join the AFC South bottom-feeders.
Regardless, Scherff will join a Jaguars team that’s made a significant leap in the talent department since free agency started with signings like wideout Christian Kirk, linebacker Foye Oluokun and defensive tackle Folorunso Fatukasi.
With long-term financial security for the first time in his career, playing under a Super Bowl-winning head coach in Pederson, reuniting with Rauscher and getting to block for the reigning No. 1 overall pick in Trevor Lawrence, it’s pretty easy to see how the Jaguars won the Scherff sweepstakes.