Regrettable Commanders free-agent departure poised for 2024 resurgence

Could the Commanders regret this free-agent departure?
Adam Peters
Adam Peters / Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Commanders didn't keep many of their free-agent veterans around. Adam Peters took this opportunity to start fresh in pursuit of brighter fortunes. As is typically the case, this came with some collateral damage.

Some departures were expected. Others were a foregone conclusion from a long way out. There were a few surprises along the way, but Peters did what he thought was right during his first recruitment period as Commanders' general manager.

Considering the need to surround rookie quarterback Jayden Daniels with pass-catchers who can create separation, the Commanders losing wide receiver Curtis Samuel will be felt. How much depends on whether new additions or those already under contract step up en route to a bigger impact within Kliff Kingsbury's offensive scheme.

The former Ohio State star never quite lived up to his hefty contract in Washington despite flashing moments of exceptional promise. That didn't stop the Buffalo Bills from making Samuel one of their high-priority signings in free agency, where he's expected to be a prominent target for quarterback Josh Allen following the losses of Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis.

This was a sentiment echoed by Chris Trapasso from CBS Sports, who named Samuel in his list of veterans who can take their game to new heights in a different environment next season. Something that would only increase the sense of regret where the Commanders are concerned.

"Samuel's time in Washington, like many with him there, was a disappointment production-wise, and it wasn't entirely his fault. In 2021, Samuel battled through a litany of injuries. Then the past two seasons, he hovered in the 60-catch, 600-yard range. At nearly 6-foot and 200 pounds with 4.31 speed and high-end explosiveness, obvious jet-sweep, backfield, and pre-snap alignment versatility, Samuel can be much better. Now he'll catch passes from one Josh Allen. Samuel enters a Buffalo offense without Stefon Diggs. Only the Chargers have more "available" targets and percentage of targets from 2023 to replace. The cherry on top -- Samuel will be coordinated by Joe Brady. Why does that matter? With Brady, during the coach's his first OC NFL gig back in 2020, the former Ohio State star had his finest professional season to date -- 77 catches for 851 yards."

Chris Trapass

The Commanders drafted Luke McCaffrey and signed Olamide Zaccheaus in free agency to plug the gap left by Samuel. While they don't have his quick-twitch speed and dynamic elusiveness, there should be a way for both to involve themselves within Kingsbury's schematic concepts.

If Zaccheaus cannot repay the faith shown in him and McCaffrey takes longer to develop than anticipated, the Commanders have a problem on their hands. This bears more significance if Jahan Dotson cannot break out in a crucial Year 3 of his professional career.

Samuel got a three-year, $24 million deal with the Bills that included a $6.9 million signing bonus and $15.02 million guaranteed. That's something the Commanders could have afforded. Peters didn't think the versatile wideout was worth it when push came to shove.

Whether this decision will come back to haunt the progressive front-office figure remains to be seen.