The biggest free-agent swing Commanders could take at edge rusher in 2024

This would be a home-run signing...

Danielle Hunter
Danielle Hunter / Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

What is the biggest free-agent swing the Washington Commanders could take in pursuit of upgrading their pass-rushing options in 2024?

After trading Montez Sweat and Chase Young before the deadline, the Washington Commanders' pass-rush became almost nonexistent over the second half of 2023. That was to be expected considering the lack of quality depth. Aside from K.J. Henry, nobody should be a lock to make the 53-man roster next season.

This is a position group general manager Adam Peters must address as a matter of urgency this offseason. There should be a few enticing college prospects there for the taking at various stages during the 2024 NFL Draft. If the Commanders want to think bigger, making a splash in free agency could also be something those in power contemplate if the right opportunities come along.

These possibilities diminished after Brian Burns and Josh Allen received franchise tags. While the Carolina Panthers could still be tempted to tag-and-trade their star edge rusher given their current predicament, parting ways with valuable assets might not be in Peters' train of thought given his desire to build through the draft and supplement through free agency.

Commanders should monitor Danielle Hunter's situation

The Commanders would be wise to monitor developments surrounding Danielle Hunter. While the Minnesota Vikings are reportedly working on a contract extension for the player after another exceptional campaign, time is of the essence. If his representatives can examine alternative offers when the free-agent frenzy commences, this is the biggest swing Washington can make in pursuit of improving its pass rush next season.

Hunter is a stud and has been almost from the moment he entered the league as a third-round selection out of LSU. The four-time Pro Bowler has 87.5 career sacks and is a relentless force. He's got experience as a 4-3 defensive end or 3-4 outside linebacker. This could be of significant use to Joe Whitt Jr. and Dan Quinn as part of their new expansive scheme.

Acquiring Hunter won't be cheap if he hits the market. Premier players rarely are. But the Commanders have the necessary resources to make this sort of bold move should they wish.

Most projections indicate Hunter could make around $20 million per season on his next deal. The Commanders would also have to fend off interest from several other teams if they threw their hat in the ring. Fortunately, this is no longer a toxic destination to avoid after Dan Synder left town.

Peters has warned fans not to expect a frenzied period of lavish spending when free agency begins. The money is there to significantly strengthen the ranks, but the new front-office leader won't be held to ransom as part of his long-term plans to get the Commanders back to prominence.

Signing Hunter would make the entire NFL sit up and take notice. It would also solve one of Washington's biggest needs for good measure.

Hunter will be 30 years old when during the 2024 season. That said, the physical specimen remains explosive, forceful, and a well-rounded edge performer capable of impacting games on a three-down basis. One could even make a strong case for this being an upgrade on Sweat and Young based on his production.

The possibilities are endless for Peters. Convincing Hunter to join his ambitious project would legitimize the Commanders instantly.