Commanders insider floats idea of trading recent offensive spark

LANDOVER, MARYLAND - OCTOBER 23: Adrian Amos #31 of the Green Bay Packers attempts to tackle Antonio Gibson #24 of the Washington Commanders during the second half of the game at FedExField on October 23, 2022 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
LANDOVER, MARYLAND - OCTOBER 23: Adrian Amos #31 of the Green Bay Packers attempts to tackle Antonio Gibson #24 of the Washington Commanders during the second half of the game at FedExField on October 23, 2022 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /

The Washington Commanders improved to 3-4, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t auction off some players before the trade deadline.

In a vacuum, this roster has several tradable players.

It’s no secret William Jackson wants out and there’s no shortage of cornerback-needy teams who play a ton of man coverage (his preferred scheme). Dyami Brown continues having a limited role in the offense even after his two-touchdown game in Week 5 and Kendall Fuller’s expiring contract is definitely attractive.

Of course, Daron Payne’s future sparks the most controversy. The debate is pretty self-explanatory: the Commanders won’t be able to pay all of their DL. Should they cash in on Payne before he becomes a free agent in the offseason?

Do they reward Payne’s superb play with a new contract over Montez Sweat even though Jonathan Allen is already locked up and they drafted Phidarian Mathis, who suffered a season-ending injury in Week 1, in the second round in April?

The discourse surrounding Payne isn’t going anywhere, obviously, but The Athletic’s Ben Standig dubbed Antonio Gibson as a potential trade chip in a recent article. Please don’t jump to conclusions and mistake that as Standig advocating for Gibson to be traded, because that’s not even close to what’s going on here.

Could the Commanders trade Antonio Gibson at the deadline?

Trading Gibson wouldn’t leave Washington desolate at running back. In fact, it would offer more opportunities for JD McKissic, who’s seldom been used early in games. Rather bizarrely, McKissic’s became an afterthought in Scott Turner’s offense, with his main usage coming with Washington trailing in the second half.

In his article, Standig mentioned running back as “one position group where Washington could help its future draft capital without compensating immediate needs.” Would anyone really disagree with that assessment?

"Washington immediately installed rookie Brian Robinson as the lead back weeks after he was shot twice. Since making his NFL regular-season debut in Week 5, Robinson out-touched Gibson 26-14. Robinson and change-of-pace option J.D. McKissic would form a solid 1-2 punch. Washington already uses playmaking wide receiver, Curtis Samuel, out of the backfield in spots.Gibson is playing on a reasonable rookie contract through next season and might only net a Day 3 selection. That’s a combination of a devalued RB market and a crowded trade market with the Panthers’ dealing Christian McCaffrey to the 49ers and the Rams’ Cam Akers also possibly on the move. Gibson would offer interested teams a dual-threat back at a much lower salary and trade cost than the 49ers paid for McCaffrey."

Standig makes some salient points. Teams like the Rams or Bills, who showed interest in McCaffrey, might be attracted to Gibson given his reduced salary and trade price relative to the newly-minted 49er. The same can be said for every team in the running back market given the injuries at the position around the league.

Jets rookie phenom Breece Hall suffered a season-ending torn ACL and meniscus and New York responded by acquiring James Robinson from Jacksonville. Robinson, who rushed for over 1,000 yards as an undrafted rookie in 2020, had fallen out of favor in Jacksonville with Travis Etienne taking on a bigger role.

Of course, Standig’s article came before Week 7, when Gibson was a key contributor in Washington’s unlikely win over Green Bay.

In the game, Gibson rushed for 59 yards on 5.9 yards per attempt, caught a second-quarter touchdown with the Commanders trailing 14-3 and provided a spark on special teams by averaging 26.0 yards on three kick returns.

Gibson is clearly benefitting from a shared backfield, even though Brian Robinson is the undisputed lead back. Since being activated from the non-football injury, Robinson is averaging just 3.4 YPC and hasn’t caught a pass

With Robinson still searching for his confidence and backfield swagger after returning from his scary incident and Gibson rounding into form, it would be pretty premature for Washington to trade Gibson before the Nov. 1 deadline.

We like to think Standig agrees with that. The Commanders envisioned Robinson and Gibson forming a dynamic backfield committee and that vision finally manifested itself against the Packers with the duo combining for 132 yards.

The NFL is a week-to-week league. Two weeks ago trading Gibson didn’t sound crazy as he was hardly used in the offense. Coming off back-to-back strong performances, Gibson’s role should only increase moving forward.

3 landing spots for William Jackson after trade request. dark. Next