Grading the Commanders' first seven signings in 2024 free agency

Adam Peters wasted no time in making his presence felt.
Austin Ekeler
Austin Ekeler / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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Commanders signed Austin Ekeler

Even though the Washington Commanders have Brian Robinson Jr. and Chris Rodriguez Jr. in their running back room, Antonio Gibson's free-agent departure to the New England Patriots indicated something else was needed. Again, this was done with supreme efficiency by general manager Adam Peters, beating out competition from elsewhere along the way.

Austin Ekeler joins on a two-year deal that works out as a one-year rental contractually if things don't go well. He might be approaching 30 years old, but he's one of the best dual-threat backs in the league when healthy. More importantly for the Commanders, the veteran is also a significant red-zone threat with 69 career touchdowns.

There is no pressure on Ekeler to become a genuine three-down presence. Robinson and Rodriguez can also share the load, giving Washington a potentially dynamic three-headed monster for their quarterback - whoever that might be - to lean on.

Ekeler is also someone Anthony Lynn knows well from their time together with the Los Angeles Chargers. He knows how best to utilize the player and will offer considerable guidance to offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury throughout the campaign. Expecting miracles might be unrealistic, but it's another low-risk option with a high-end upside.

Grade: B

If the Commanders can count on Ekeler to become an asset in the passing game and contribute his fair share of touchdowns, it'll help enormously. How Kingsbury uses him will be crucial, which is why Lynn's role in this instance becomes integral.