Commanders must avoid previous connection to released offensive lineman

This would be one to avoid...
Laken Tomlinson
Laken Tomlinson / Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

There is a clear connection between Laken Tomlinson and some influential figures within the Washington Commanders. It should be ignored.

The NFL is a relationships business. It's how second chances emerge and trust builds. Sometimes they bear fruit. In other cases, it can result in going to the well one too many times.

One recently released offensive lineman has plenty of connection to the new Washington Commanders regime. The New York Jets announced they are letting Laken Tomlinson take his chances elsewhere. This saves them $8.1 million on their salary cap in 2024 and adds another veteran interior protector to the free-agent pool.

Tomlinson was drafted by the Detroit Lions when Martin Mayhew was general manager. He was then traded to the San Francisco 49ers. Who was influential within their front office at the time? None other than Adam Peters and Mayhew.

Commanders should be thinking bigger than Laken Tomlinson

The former first-round selection was a dominant force at the peak of his powers. Tomlinson's consistency has waned over time. He's been nothing short of abysmal for the Jets over the last two years. According to Pro Football Focus, no offensive guard allowed more pressures in 2023.

While there is a desperate need for the Commanders to bolster their offensive line, they should be aiming a little higher. They have tons of salary-cap space - the league's highest as it stands - that was further aided by a larger-than-expected increase in available resources. Peters also has a hefty number of draft selections to find long-term solutions.

Tomlinson is a savvy veteran with plenty of experience. His previous relationship with Peters and Mayhew, in particular, makes this a realistic avenue to pursue. But questions must be asked about whether he could provide an upgrade to the left guard position effectively enough if the Commanders plan to keep Sam Cosmi on the right-hand side of their interior.

Players decline as they get older. That's common knowledge. It seems as if Tomlinson might have fallen off the proverbial cliff in that regard. He remains incredibly durable - which is a positive - but the production hasn't been anywhere near good enough to warrant the Commanders allocating decent money in his direction.

Ron Rivera's biggest flaw was banking on reclamation projects galvanizing their careers in Washington. This was especially evident on the offensive line with minimal success. Tomlinson fits into that bracket after an underwhelming stint with the Jets. The new power structure cannot make similar mistakes in pursuit of progression.

This is a time for a fresh start. Cosmi aside, one could make a strong case for every other starting offensive lineman being replaced in some capacity. Replacing retreads with more retreads is not a recipe for success. Although Mayhew is a big fan of Tomlinson, this shouldn't be anything more than a last-resort alternative if other targets cannot be secured.

After years of languishing in the bargain basement when it came to acquisitions, the Commanders have newfound wealth. The possibilities are endless. Washington is also a more attractive destination than at any point over the last 20 years. Players should be clamoring to join this ambitious project rather than turning away or demanding money their talent doesn't justify.

The connections to Tomlinson are obvious. He might even come up in discussions, but there are much, much better options available.