Should the Washington Commanders allocate significant financial resources to extending Kamren Curl to prevent him from departing in free agency?
New general manager Adam Peters has a lot of important - and difficult - decisions to make this offseason. The future of starting safety Kamren Curl is among the more pressing priorities on his immediate agenda.
The Washington Commanders are embarking on a substantial rebuild. They have the resources to speed up the process, but the correct foundations must be laid in the weeks and months ahead. Peters made a good impression during his introductory presser. However, actions speak louder than words for a fanbase that's endured prolonged misery under previous regimes.
Peters is experienced enough to hit the ground running. He's an exceptional personnel evaluator and highly respected around the league. While the front office leader stated there are a few core foundational pieces to build around, it would be surprising if a massive overhaul didn't occur before the time to resume team activities gets here.
Curl is one of a select few established figures out of contract who might return. He's risen from seventh-round obscurity into a highly influential figure. Some criticized his performances at times this season, but it's also worth remembering how dismal the supporting cast around the defensive back became despite high expectations.
Brad Spielberger from Pro Football Focus listed Curl at No. 21 in his top free agents set to hit the market in 2024. The writer highlighted his versatility and instincts as reasons why there could be significant interest from elsewhere if the Commanders let things get that far.
"[Kamren] Curl has quietly been one of the more underrated players in the NFL over the past several seasons, with his status as a seventh-rounder and his name getting lost in the shuffle on a defense that, up until this year’s trade deadline, was riddled with first-round talent. Curl can line up anywhere and is as consistent as safeties come on a down-to-down basis, possessing good instincts and a clear understanding of how to manipulate leverage and angles in the open field."- Brad Spielberger, PFF
The Commanders have around $83.54 million to spend in free agency as it stands. That could increase more once restructures and early cuts are confirmed. That said, tying Curl down to a long-term extension isn't going to be cheap.
Washington's had a bargain contractually where Curl is concerned. He was on a seventh-round rookie deal. Despite the typical figure increasing thanks to his appearance numbers, it was still pennies on the dollar compared to most starting players at the position.
That'll change on Curl's next deal whether it's with the Commanders or not. Spotrac projects the Arkansas product to generate an annual salary of $15.3 million on a four-year, $61.55 million deal. This would place him at No. 6 in the highest-paid strong safeties league-wide.
Peters has declared his intent to build through the draft and supplement through free agency. Curl represents one of the few Ron Rivera picks that far exceeded expectations. He's not even entered the typical prime years of his career yet. Selling the project to him shouldn't be difficult with all the optimism enveloping the franchise currently.
Hopefully, some middle ground can be reached between Curl and the Commanders. Those in power also have the option of utilizing the franchise tag to buy some extra time if needed. Nobody else entering free agency is getting worthy of this distinction aside from perhaps Kendall Fuller, so it's a possibility depending on how contract talks go in the coming weeks.
Contending teams rarely let progressive young players like Curl walk. Peters has been around plenty of those throughout his front-office career. He'll know better than most how important it is to retain core pieces in pursuit of progress.
Whether a lucrative, long-term deal can be reached is another matter.