Where will the Washington Commanders deploy Nick Gates in 2023?

(Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports) Nick Gates
(Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports) Nick Gates /

Where will the Washington Commanders deploy free-agent signing Nick Gates across their revamped offensive line in 2023?

One of the first orders of business for the Washington Commanders when legal tampering began centered on improving their offensive line. This was a position group that failed to meet even modest expectations last season, which is something that couldn’t continue with Eric Bieniemy coming into the fold.

The Commanders didn’t have much money to go around. But this is the way Ron Rivera likes it given his preference for taking care of established young stars rather than gambling on free agents that represent an unknown quantity.

This could be classed as a patchwork method of improvement to some. However, the Commanders also have eight selections during the 2023 NFL Draft to further strengthen their protection with high-caliber talent depending on how the board plays out in front of them.

Commander snapped up a versatile veteran in Nick Gates

One notable signing that brings real intrigue is Nick Gates. The versatile lineman comes from the NFC East rival New York Giants and signed a three-year, $16.5 million deal with $8 million guaranteed.

Ironically, Gates’ promising young career came to an abrupt halt thanks to a gruesome leg injury suffered against the Commanders in 2021. It was a long road back for the one-time Nebraska standout, but his determination to not let this setback define his long-term aspirations is a testament to the player’s high character.

Gates was a respected leader within the Giants’ locker room, which will help smooth his transition. However, just where the lineman is going to operate on Washington’s revamped protection is anyone’s guess.

In truth, Gates can play anywhere. He has experience at the tackle position, is accomplished as a guard, and can also occupy the center spot should Washington require it.

This is a nice luxury to have and one that no doubt attracted the Commanders to Gates. Looking at their options currently, perhaps starting at center and working closely with Sam Howell could be the best avenue to go down.

That could all change if Chase Roullier proves his health concerns are a thing of the past. But there’s absolutely no guarantee of that and the Commanders cannot sit around and wait with so much at stake in 2023.

Obviously, the Commanders will probably add a blue-chip prospect or two during the draft. But here’s what the offensive line could look like right now.

  • Charles Leno Jr. – LT
  • Andrew Norwell – LG
  • Nick Gates – C
  • Sam Cosmi – RG
  • Andrew Wylie – RT

While the left-hand side – particularly the interior – needs work, adding Gates and Wylie should suit Bieniemy’s new system down to the ground. But it’s absolutely vital for the Commanders to decide on their starting five early in order to maximize cohesion throughout the preparation period.

If the Commanders get someone like John Michael Schmitz during the draft, then Gates could fill the left guard position in favor of the struggling Norwell. All options are on the table right now, but the veteran will be ready to go no matter where he ends up.

And that is exactly why the Commanders targeted Gates as a high priority in the first place.

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