Commanders flop turning heads elsewhere after free-agent switch

It's been a strong start elsewhere for the Commanders flop.
Ron Rivera
Ron Rivera / Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Ron Rivera made countless personnel errors as Washington Commanders' head coach. This eventually led to his dismissal once the 2023 campaign concluded, signaling the start of a new era for the organization. It's early days, but the impression made by new general manager Adam Peters couldn't be more positive.

One of Rivera's biggest faults was not giving the linebacking corps the priority it deserved. This had a lot to do with the scheme implemented by Jack Del Rio. But it left the defensive second level dangerously exposed as Jamin Davis fended for himself for the most part.

Cody Barton was Rivera's final flop. The free-agent signing came in with ambitions to lock up the starting spot long-term. It didn't take long to realize this wouldn't go according to plan.

Barton was inept in coverage and a yard off the pace against the run. That's a dangerous combination for any linebacker, so it came as no shock to see Peters hit the reset button with significant investment throughout a frantic recruitment period.

Commanders flop Cody Barton making waves with the Broncos

The former Utah star wasn't out of work for long, signing a one-year deal with the Denver Broncos. Jeff Legwold from ESPN highlighted the impressive start Barton made to life in a difficult environment. Something that's given the AFC West team plenty to ponder heading into their upcoming training camp.

"The Broncos signed [Cody] Barton in free agency, thinking he would be a prime contributor on special teams and could carve out a niche on defense if things went well. But as the Broncos' adjourned their offseason program, Barton had put himself squarely into the battle for the starting middle linebacker job to replace the departed Josey Jewell. Barton will compete with Jonas Griffith, who missed last season after tearing an ACL in training camp. "We always knew that he was an 'A' special teams player,'' coach Sean Payton said. "The vision became easy relative to, 'Hey, he comes in and competes for [middle linebacker], and we know he's someone that also can play a core-four [special] teams role for us.''' Barton got plenty of work with the defensive starters in OTAs and minicamp, so he will arrive to training camp in compete for the job."

Jeff Legwold, ESPN

Considering how lackluster Barton performed more often than not in a Commanders' uniform, this is a turnup for the books. Whether he can win a starting job remains to be seen, but he's given himself a fighting chance of silencing those who completely wrote off his future NFL aspirations.

The Commanders won't be casting any envious glances in Barton's direction. Frankie Luvu and Bobby Wagner have the potential to completely transform the defense's fortunes. Washington also picked up Jordan Magee at No. 139 overall in the 2024 NFL Draft and the staff were encouraged by what they saw from the Temple product over his initial transition.

Couple this with the creativity that Dan Quinn and Joe Whitt Jr. potentially have in store for Davis' usage, and things are looking incredibly promising for the linebacking corps. Something that represents a huge upgrade on Barton's indifferent performance levels during his one season in the nation's capital.

There's no ill will towards Barton from the fanbase. He tried his best but wasn't good enough. That's the way it goes sometimes.

Hopefully, the offseason movement on both sides can lead to better fortunes.