5 potential Commanders candidates to replace Nick Gates

The Commanders are looking for a new starting center.

Nick Gates
Nick Gates / Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
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Commanders could sign Coleman Shelton

Coleman Shelton has been the Los Angeles Rams on-again, off-again center since 2021. Last season, the veteran proved he has developed into a consistent force in the running game. Though he only graded out slightly ahead of Nick Gates according to Pro Football Focus, he was an important factor in the breakout performance of running back Kyren Willaims.

The Rams would like to re-sign him but are facing some major salary cap challenges. Shelton can opt out of the remaining year of his deal and become a free agent. It is being widely reported that he intends to do so. That does not necessarily mean he will not reach a new deal with Los Angeles, though it does indicate he wants to test the open market.

Shelton is still just 28 years old and should be entering his prime. He has good size, strength, and experience that should make him a long-term answer wherever he ends up signing. After working his way up from undrafted free agent through several practice squads to become a starting-caliber center, his trajectory still looks to be headed up.

That may quell fears that Shelton is essentially another Gates where the Washington Commanders are concerned. Last season's free-agent signing from the New York Giants showed more promise early on but hit a peak and stagnated. Shelton still may have some room to grow. He would take over as the starting center and can almost certainly improve the running game.