The Washington Commanders haven’t been all that active this offseason. That seems crazy to say considering they traded for a quarterback, but their approach to free agency can only be described as passive, if not overly preservative.
After all, we’re now in June and Andrew Norwell’s two-year, $10 million contract remains the team’s biggest free-agent splash. In terms of 2022 salary cap numbers, Norwell, Bobby McCain, Trai Turner, JD McKissic, Cornelius Lucas and Efe Obada will account for just a $14.187 cap hit. That’s six players, folks.
It’s a puzzling strategy for Ron Rivera, who faces pressure to improve the Commanders’ win total in Year 3 after posting seven in each of his first two seasons, but the head coach and front office clearly have conviction in this roster.
An expected domino effect from Washington’s conservative offseason? It should create opportunities for several players to have bigger roles in 2022. After an extremely dormant period of activity, these Commanders fill that bill.
4 Commanders set for bigger roles in 2022
4. Percy Butler/Darrick Forrest
Butler and Forrest’s inclusion hinges on the Commanders not re-signing Landon Collins to fill the Buffalo nickel role.
A fourth-round pick out of Louisiana Lafayette, Butler was floated as a nickel candidate the moment he was drafted, but it’ll be interesting to see how Forrest performs this summer after an injury derailed the start of his rookie year.
The 2021 fifth-rounder returned in time to appear in eight games, but he was essentially redshirted and played exclusively on special teams. For context, he played 26 defensive snaps compared to 169 reps on special teams.
Kam Curl will slide into the Buffalo nickel on occasion and Bobby McCain’s ability to cover the slot could open up a part-time role for Butler and/or Forrest. Washington could’ve signed a veteran S/LB hybrid in free agency — or simply drafted one — but they opted to take Butler and give Forrest a chance to prove himself.
Again, re-signing Collins to a more team-friendly deal is still in the realm of possibility. As of this writing, though, Butler and Forrest are due for an increased role in 2022. At the very least, they’ll get a ton of first-team reps at OTAs and minicamp and potentially training camp if no additions are made before hand.