4 looming decisions facing the Commanders over second half of 2023

Some big decisions are looming...

Josh Harris
Josh Harris / Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
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Commanders free-agent decisions

Other minor on-field decisions need to be made.

Rookie deals expire on Ron Rivera’s first draft class. Three of those players are long gone. And we all know what happened to the top pick from that group.

Chase Young - for those of you with short attention spans. 

The Saahdiq Charles experiment looks to be over at this point. Antonio Gibson a nice piece but the Washington Commanders should be looking for a more explosive option as a receiving running back. Khaleke Hudson is a limited linebacker. None of those players is a priority.

Oddly enough, it is the two seventh-round picks that are.

James Smith-Williams has developed into a very serviceable defensive end. He has played a lot, and though his numbers are not eye-popping, he has consistently contributed.

The Commanders have three defensive ends scheduled for free agency this year. They need to figure out which they like best amongst Smith-Williams, Casey Toohill, and Efe Obada.  Each brings something a little different to the table and some will draw interest from other teams.

But the big decision - the only really important decision the Commanders must make regarding its free agents - concerns Kamren Curl.

Curl has become the glue of the defensive backfield. I admit, I kept waiting for him to regress to his original draft status. I have seen it happen with Chris Horton and Montae Nicholson.

But Curl exceeded all expectations. He is a very good player close to the line, and the defense simply functions better when he is on the field.

I think it’s important not to oversell your players, so let me say that Curl is not an All-Pro. He is not great in coverage. But he is a strong tackler and when paired with a good deep safety, he can be a real force.

The former Arkansas star was developing a good rapport with Darrick Forrest before his injury. I don’t think Percy Butler is the answer at deep safety but a healthy Forrest - or perhaps rookie Quan Martin - could be.

When we all assumed that the Commanders would attempt to extend either Young or Montez Sweat, Curl was an afterthought. Now, he is the primary focus of an extension.

Washington should not be fooled by the promise of shinier options on the free agent market. John Johnson and Marcus Maye were such over the past few seasons. Neither lived up to expectations with new teams.

Better to keep what you know, what you’ve developed. Better to re-sign Curl and continue building around him.