The Washington Commanders‘ will begin their 2022 training camp in less than two weeks. After over a month of no football — though Terry McLaurin’s extension did wonders to pass the time — fans will soon have stories out the wazoo in the form of roster battles, position battles and surprise standouts and underachievers.
Ron Rivera recently hinted at the prospect of signing a veteran linebacker before training camp. So far, however, there’s been nothing to suggest the Commanders are actively shopping in that regard. Then again, Rivera could be working behind the scenes to identify an ideal target as there’s multiple options available.
It goes without saying linebacker is Washington’s weakest position group, but the secondary isn’t far behind as far as depth is concerned.
While Kendall Fuller and William Jackson III form a solid starting tandem, Benjamin St-Juste, despite coming off an eye-opening spring, has real health concerns after concussions (plural) limited him to nine games as a rookie.
While Commanders fans wait patiently for the team to add a linebacker, the club went out and signed USFL star DeJuan Neal on Thursday.
The Commanders signed USFL standout DeJuan Neal.
With numerous veterans still braving free agency — Chris Harris Jr., Kevin King, Xavier Rhodes and Joe Haden chief among them — this move might not resonate with fans. After all, does Washington really need another young DB when it already has Darrick Forrest, Christian Holmes and Percy Butler competing for snaps?
Probably not, but Neal brings serious upside to the nation’s capital. Additionally, the Commanders are familiar with the former New Jersey Generals star, as they signed him as an undrafted free agent out of Division II Shepherd University in 2019.
Neal failed made to make Washington’s team in the preseason and subsequently joined the New York Guardians of the XFL before it folded. Neal battled injuries this past season, but he was very impactful for the Generals when he was on the field and gets another crack to make the Commanders’ 53-man roster.
In addition to Neal, Washington plucked another USFL talent on Thursday, signing fellow cornerback Channing Stribling of the Philadelphia Stars, who fell to the Birmingham Stallions 33-0 in this year’s championship game.
Stribling was a big reason Philly made it that far, as he recorded a league-leading seven interceptions in just seven games. He went undrafted out of Michigan in 2017, and unlike Neal has NFL experience having spent time on the Chargers, 49ers, Colts and Browns’ practice squads before he left for the AAF’s Memphis Express.
After the AAF shut down, Stribling would play for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the CFL and Seattle Dragons in the XFL.
To make room for Neal and Stribling’s arrival, the Commanders cut defensive backs Niguel Hill and Devin Taylor, whom they signed earlier this offseason.