A gargantuan offseason awaits the Washington Commanders once the season ends. You can say that for most offseason’s, but the 2023 edition will be consequential on many fronts. The list of free agents alone, headlined by Carson Wentz, Daron Payne and Cole Holcomb, puts immense pressure on the front office.
Of that trio, Payne feels the most likely to return.
If the Commanders were smart, they’d admit the Wentz experiment was a mistake and reassess the QB position. Fans might roll their eyes at the thought of changing quarterbacks again, but Wentz is on the books for over $26 million next year, and Washington can ditch the contract for nothing in the offseason.
We’ll cross that bridge when the time comes. For now, we have to focus on Holcomb, who’s out for the season after undergoing foot surgery.
Holcomb morphed into a stud in 2021, and has been a godsend for a linebacker room that’s long struggled with consistency. Having played just seven games in a contract year, though, this untimely injury complicates his future in the nation’s capital, and it’s tough to say whether Washington will bring him back.
Will Cole Holcomb return to the Commanders as a free agent in 2023?
Holcomb is one of the league’s best-kept secrets at linebackers. He’s also a leader in the locker room, and the defense’s signal-caller as the MIKE linebacker. As we’ve seen with Jamin Davis’ slow-moving development, quality MIKEs don’t grow on trees, and Holcomb’s become a well-rounded LB over the years.
With Davis making notable strides in Year 2, might the Commanders continue building around last year’s first-round pick, and send Holcomb packing in free agency? Might Holcomb’s injury allow them to bring him back at a potential discount? With Holcomb sidelined, he’s obviously not increasing his price tag.
Of course, letting Holcomb go would go hand-in-hand with revamping the entire linebacker room, sans Davis. No more Jon Bostic and David Mayo. Much like Phidarian Mathis (injury notwithstanding) and Brian Robinson, use a mid-round draft pick on someone who can contribute right away. Quality linebackers can be had at any point in the draft.
Potential free agent targets include Titans’ David Long (89.0 run-defense grade, 80.1 pass-rush grade, via PFF), the Colts’ Bobby Okereke (77.2 run-defense grade), the Bills’ Tremaine Edmunds (stellar grades across the board), the Patriots’ Raekwon McMillan, the Jets’ Kwon Alexander and the Eagles’ Kyzir White.
It’s a complicated situation. The current regime loves roster continuity, so they’ll undoubtedly make a play for Holcomb. But they should consider he’ll have missed a combined 15 games in four seasons … and only one of those you can confidently say he was a legitimate difference-maker in the middle of the defense.
What do you think, Commanders fans? Should the team bring back Holcomb? Or sign another free agent and draft a prospect?