4 high-risk free agents the Commanders could target in 2023

(Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports) Denzel Perryman
(Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports) Denzel Perryman /
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(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /

Commanders could sign Sam Darnold

  • Quarterback | Carolina Panthers

Sam Howell will get every chance to prove his worth this off-season. Ron Rivera has already stated his desire to have him atop the quarterback depth chart heading into OTAs, although the Washington Commanders will likely keep all options on the table before anything is confirmed one way or another.

Howell represents the best-case scenario for the Commanders. If he wins the starting job and excels, it gives the franchise a cheap rookie contract to build around over the next two seasons before the signal-caller becomes eligible for an extension.

Regardless of whether Howell is the guy or not, Washington needs another capable presence as a backup if nothing else. Considering the player’s age and inexperience, going down the veteran route in free agency seems the most plausible scenario.

While it’s a big gamble, Sam Darnold could be considered if the price is right. The No. 3 overall selection in 2018 might never reach these expectations based on his overall career trajectory, but the player demonstrated growth with the Carolina Panthers last season behind the best offensive line he’s ever had.

Darnold has his limitations, most notably when it comes to decision-making and recognizing pressure. However, he’s still 25 years old, looks well suited to Eric Bieniemy’s scheme, and could provide the Commanders with a decent No. 2 with a smooth transition.