Should the Washington Commanders explore the possibility of acquiring second-year quarterback Malik Willis before the 2023 season?
Ron Rivera seems confident in Sam Howell doing enough to give the Washington Commanders a big shot in the arm offensively next season. The quarterback looked like a promising performer in his only NFL career start in Week 18 against the Dallas Cowboys, but it's still a big gamble from the under-pressure head coach as his own job status hangs in the balance once new owners come into the fold on July 20.
Howell has the trust of teammates and the presence of Eric Bieniemy running the offense is something else that will assist. The Commanders do have veteran free-agent signing Jacoby Brissett in the event the former fifth-round selection cannot meet expectations, but Chris Trapasso from CBS Sports highlighted another potential signal-caller that might become available at some stage this offseason.
Commanders named as potential suitor for Malik Willis
The writer put the Commanders atop his list of possible destinations for Malik Willis, citing how Bieniemy's experience in developing quarterbacks could be exactly what the one-time Liberty phenom needs to carve out a better professional career for himself.
"While he rose to prominence during the Patrick Mahomes era, Washington's new offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy was integral in Alex Smith's resurgence before Mahomes took over in Kansas City, and those Chiefs offenses astutely tapped into Smith's athleticism as a runner and scrambler. And with Mahomes, particularly in 2022, Bieniemy demonstrated keen scheming skills, as even without Tyreek Hill, Kansas City's offense hummed as efficiently as always. Without anyone locked into a long-term starting role at quarterback, I'd love to see Bieniemy work with a passer as naturally gifted as Willis. The veteran coordinator could easily deploy RPOs and an assortment of easy, one-read looks for Willis as the former Liberty passer develops as a professional."- Chris Trapaso, CBS Sports
Willis was seen as a development project when the Titans selected him at No. 86 overall. Tennessee's coaching staff threw him into the fire far too early almost out of necessity as a rookie, which brought around expected struggles and left his long-term aspirations hanging in the balance.
The Titans opted to keep faith with Ryan Tannehill this offseason. Perhaps more telling was their decision to draft Will Levis in the second round to end his concerning slide.
Although Jim Wyatt from the team's website said that Willis outperformed Levis during early workouts, that could change when the pads go on at camp. Much will also depend on how many quarterbacks the Titans take through onto their 53-man roster with the new ruling that permits an emergency option under center to be activated if injury strikes.
Should Willis perform well in the preseason, then a situation could emerge where teams start making calls for a potential trade. Whether the Commanders throw their hat in the ring is another matter.
Although the scope for growth under Bieniemy makes this a tempting proposition, the Commanders have hitched their wagon to Howell and Brissett for good or bad. Adding Willis into the mix threatens to hurt continuity at an important time.
If Howell doesn't take advantage of this outstanding opportunity, then Washington will be in the quarterback market in 2024. They'll also have a new coaching infrastructure ready to usher in Josh Harris group's exciting new era.
While nothing can be completely dismissed where the NFL is concerned, Willis ending up on the Commanders to begin the 2023 season would be surprising, to say the least. In reality, it's a non-starter.