At this point, it’s fair to say the Washington Commanders‘ remaining free agent signings will come after the 2022 NFL Draft.
While deals are still being made around the league, they’re coming at a much slower pace, which is typically par for the course after the hectic first wave.
In fact, high-profile stars such as Tyrann Mathieu, Odell Beckham Jr., Stephon Gilmore, Julio Jones and Jadeveon Clowney remain unsigned and there’s no evidence to suggest any of them are close to finding a home.
While Mathieu fits best with Washington among that group, the team’s cap situation (and offseason approach thus far) suggests they can’t afford to splurge and will instead pursue bargains for the duration of free agency.
That makes wideout/return specialist DeAndre Carter a prime candidate to get re-signed. However, Ron Rivera’s latest comments suggest the Commanders will conduct a wait-and-see approach with the four-year pro.
That obviously runs the risk of another team scooping Carter up and The Athletic’s Ben Standig understands the Chargers are in hot pursuit.
Could the Chargers swipe DeAndre Carter from the Commanders?
Losing Carter wouldn’t be a doomsday scenario for the Commanders, obviously, but he was valuable as a return specialist and part-time receiver. On top of finishing third in the league by averaging 25.11 yards per kickoff return, he notched career-highs in catches, receiving yards and touchdowns in 2021.
Carter’s 296 receiving yards ranked fourth on the team and his three receiving touchdowns trailed only Terry McLaurin for the team lead. While Carter isn’t a proven pass-catcher, the fact he can actually be deployed on the offensive side of things might convince the Chargers to appoint him as Andre Roberts’ replacement.
While Roberts was a shade more efficient than Carter returning kicks, he’s entering his age-34 season and will be playing at 35 if Los Angeles makes a playoff run, so regression could strike at any moment for the well-traveled veteran.
Another thing to consider is that Roberts offered next to nothing as the Chargers’ fifth-string receiver last season. In fact, Roberts played just seven offensive snaps over 10 games and wasn’t even targeted by Justin Herbert.
While Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Jalen Guyton form a solid WR trio for the Chargers, Josh Palmer represents the only depth behind them. Given Roberts’ limitations as a receiver, Carter could step in and assume the WR5 position while serving as Los Angeles’ primary kickoff and punt returner.
Between re-signing Mike Williams, signing JC Jackson, trading for Khalil Mack, adding Gerald Everett to replace Jared Cook at tight end and landing Sebastian Joseph-Day to bolster their defensive line, you’d think the Chargers would have used up all of their cap space already, right?
Wrong. They still have $18.89 million hanging around, per OverTheCap, which ranks seventh in the NFL, so they could sign Carter without making much of a dent and have plenty funds leftover to continue building around Herbert.
The Commanders are open to re-signing Carter, but if they find someone in the draft who can return kicks effectively and carve out a role as a depth WR all signs would point to them parting ways with the soon-to-be 29-year-old.