4 Commanders players who are living on borrowed time in 2024

These players must have a huge 2024 season.,
Dyami Brown
Dyami Brown / Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
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Phidarian Mathis - Commanders DT

When Phidarian Mathis was drafted out of Alabama, there was talk that he may be one of the major future pieces of the Washington Commanders' defensive line. It was a luxury pick by Ron Rivera considering the holes elsewhere, but the head coach believed the second-round pick would provide something different.

Daron Payne was entering the final year of his contract and his future with the franchise was uncertain. He got locked up on a four-year extension and is still a dominant player with the team. Unfortunately for Mathis, things didn't go nearly as well after he suffered a season-ending injury during Washington's Week 1 opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2022.

Last season was a chance to prove he had value to Washington’s defense. Even though Payne got extended, Mathis could have still been a very valuable rotational defensive tackle who also comes onto the field in packages where the box is loaded.

Instead, over the 10 games he was healthy in 2023, Mathis struggled to get on the field. Even when the interior presence got rotational reps, he wasn’t effective. With only eight tackles over two years, it's been deeply disappointing up to now.

Mathis' chances of firmly establishing himself fell off a cliff when the Commanders drafted defensive tackle Johnny Newton out of Illinois at No. 36 overall. It wasn't something Adam Peters was planning, but he shifted course after the explosive force fell out of the first round.

There’s still a chance for Mathis to impress on special teams and get onto the field in certain defensive packages. But a lot of work needs to be accomplished beforehand.

Mathis must earn the trust of Dan Quinn and Joe Whitt Jr.’s defensive coaching staff. If he cannot achieve this feat, he'll become a player whose time with the franchise is running out.