The pathway out of purgatory for the Washington Commanders

(Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports) Ron Rivera
(Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports) Ron Rivera /

The Washington Commanders are a franchise that is stuck directly in the middle class of the NFL. They have a talented roster, a turbulent quarterback situation, and a coaching staff that is widely regarded as an average staff across the league.

To make matters more complicated, Dan Snyder’s potential wholesale of the team makes it hard for Washington to attract free agents and coaching candidates.

Following the firing of offensive coordinator Scott Turner, their search for his successor has run dry, due in part that the ownership ambiguity could make it a one-year job. Chris Harris, Washington’s former defensive backs coach, bolted to the Titans to be their passing game coordinator.

Maybe Harris perceived that as a better job independent of Washington’s current situation, however, Washington’s front office uncertainty most likely incentivized him to bolt. He has had multiple opportunities before to leave, and declined.

The Commanders are entering what many would consider a “lame duck” year. A franchise running out of the string on its current regime, while new leadership waits to bring in their own people. That outcome, to be frank, is extremely possible, however, there is a way the Burgundy & Gold can avoid that outcome.

The way out of purgatory for the Washington Commanders

There is a way out of purgatory for the Washington Commanders. Sam Howell could be a solid answer to the QB abyss, on a very cheap rookie deal, Washington could cash in their lottery ticket at pick 16, or a veteran like Derek Carr could be a short-term answer.

The most simple, direct way out of purgatory for the Commanders is they find their answer at quarterback. Specifically, one that is cost-effective allowing them to pay their other important roster cornerstones.

Moreover, bolstering the depth of the roster is paramount. The days of having four stud defensive linemen on rookie contracts are coming to an end. Jonathan Allen already has his payday, Daron Payne is next, and Montez Sweat’s day in the sun is coming next offseason.

Terry McLaurin is no longer the superstar wide receiver on the cheap, third-round rookie-scaled contract. He is the superstar receiver on a contract that adequately suits his impact on the team. Kam Curl, the glue of the Commanders’ secondary is entering the fourth and final year of his rookie contract, and he is expected to want a decent chunk of change.

The point is this: two years ago, the Commanders had a young, talented, cheap roster. Now, the Commanders have a young, solid roster, and the bill is coming due soon.  While their core to the glass half full person is exciting, and one that got them to be in position to make the playoffs, despite having the worst QB play in the NFL, it is beginning to become expensive.

Washington has solid front end talent. As attrition in a seventeen-game season wares on, however, lacking depth like Washington did in 2022 has proved costly. Washington sorely missed Benjamin St-Juste and Kam Curl down the back stretch of the season. Cole Holcomb’s absence was noticeable at points, and Washington had no concrete answer to losing Chase Roullier in Week 2.

Much of this was to do with trading for Carson Wentz. The fat, the depth of the roster, took a massive hit taking on his contract. Ereck Flowers hit the road, and Washington couldn’t afford value depth signings.

The first order of business for the Commanders remains to fix the quarterback position. That will remain in perpetuity. But they have to make calculated risks. Not taking on Wentz’s contract; therefore, forcing them to shave off the fat of their roster.

The Commanders are stuck in the middle. From this spot, they can go one of two ways. To make sure it is upwards, and into playoff contention, nailing this offseason is paramount. By making calculated risks at the quarterback position, whilst also bolstering notable positions on the roster, Washington can produce a playoff-caliber roster for 2023.