5 former Commanders players who are still surprisingly free agents

These former Commanders players are still looking for new homes.
Danny Johnson
Danny Johnson / Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
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Danny Johnson - Former Commanders CB

It wasn't surprising that Danny Johnson didn't get retained by the new Washington Commanders coaching staff.

Joe Whitt Jr. wants game-changing defensive backs. That is not what Johnson is. But what he is - a steady, unspectacular zone defender who makes sure tackles in the middle of the field - is still in demand around the NFL.

Johnson has always been a little too small and a little too slow to be a star. But at the end of the season, when other corners have gone down to injury or poor play, he has been there. The fact that he is a jack-of-all-trades on special teams, capable of returning and serving as a gunner, adds to that value.

Some creative secondary coach out there could turn him into a serviceable safety as well. There is probably greater turnover at the cornerback position than at any other spot. As with Anderson, someone will sign Johnson before the season.

I’m surprised he’s not already in a camp somewhere.

Nick Gates - Former Commanders OL

I know what you’re saying. Nick Gates was a disaster for the Commanders in 2023. I can’t deny that, early on. But a funny thing happened after he was re-inserted into the lineup for Tyler Larsen late in the season.

You may have missed it, but Gates played a lot better toward the end of the year. Did he simply get more comfortable? Was there a nagging injury that was slowing him down early? We’ll probably never know.

What we do know is that he is still just 28 years old and can play both center and guard. Gates didn't move very well, even during his resurgence toward the end of 2023. His days as a productive starter may be in the past. But he could be a very effective, versatile backup who can step right into the fray and play multiple positions.

Take a quick look at the number of centers and guards the Commanders have lost to injury over the past two seasons and you will see just how valuable such a player can be. He was unlikely to win over any fans who had given up on him. But in a new setting, Gates could contribute a few more productive seasons.