3 veteran free-agent offensive tackles the Commanders should consider in 2023
By Jonathan Eig
Which veteran offensive tackles remaining on the free-agent market should the Washington Commanders consider signing before the 2023 season?
OK, trivia time: How many times this century has a team won the Super starting two offensive tackles that made their NFL debut for a different team? While you contemplate that one, I will point out that the Washington Commanders enter this season with two who they did not break in projected to start.
The Commanders have not had a homegrown tackle play more than 50 percent of the team’s offensive snaps since 2020 when Morgan Moses was playing right tackle. In 2019, his bookend at left tackle was Donald Penn, who had to be basically lured out of retirement to fill in during the Trent Williams troubles.
After that, it was another free agent Cornelius Lucas on the left. And then Charles Leno Jr. came in. When Moses was sent packing, he shifted over to the right side.
Of course, that wasn’t the plan. Geron Christian was supposed to play on the left. Saadhiq Charles was supposed to play on the left. Sam Cosmi was supposed to play on the right. All three were draft picks taken between the second and fourth rounds. To date, none have been able to hold down a regular spot on the Commanders line. There is still hope that the former Texas star may find a home – at guard.
Does it really matter? I mean if Leno and this year’s contestant on “Who’s your tackle?” Andrew Wylie plays well, who cares if they were drafted by the Commanders? I guess it doesn’t really matter.
Unless you want to win a Super Bowl.
Here’s the answer to the trivia question. Zero.
Zero teams have won a Super Bowl this century without starting at least one tackle who they debuted. In more than half the cases, both tackles were drafted by the team. From Orlando Pace and Fred Miller in 2000 to Tristan Wirfs and Donovan Smith in 2021, one of the surest signifiers of NFL success is having homegrown tackles.
There are reasons for this that we can go into at another time if you are interested, but just let that number sink in for a bit. Zero times in the past 24 years has a team won a ring with the tackle situation that Washington has made SOP under Ron Rivera.
If the Commanders really didn’t think prospects like Cody Mauch and Dawand Jones were worth taking on Day 2 of the draft, I can’t really argue with them. But if either of those tackles lives up to the higher end of his ceiling, they will have some explaining to do.
There are still a few intriguing veteran tackles floating around the free agency universe. None of them are likely to draw the Commanders' interest unless Leno, Wylie, or Lucas were to go down with a significant injury. But should that happen, here are a few names to keep in mind.
One caveat: It’s May. The hot names are gone. The Commanders are not signing Orlando Brown Jr. or Jawaan Taylor. My first version of this article included Isaiah Wynn, who was available until last week when the Miami Dolphins snapped him up.
Of course, the Commanders did grab Wylie early on. If they end up needing someone else at this point in the process, they all come with strings attached.