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March 25, 2022

NFC East 2022 free agency grades: Washington Commanders edition

Eagles NFL
032422CarsonWentz John McCreary/USA TODAY Sports

During his introductory press conference in Washington, Carson Wentz threatens to throw 20 left-handed passes in 2022.

Since Daniel Snyder bought the team in 1999, 25 different quarterbacks have started for Washington. They are Brad Johnson, Jeff George, Tony Banks, Shane Matthews, Patrick Ramsey, Danny Wuerffel, Tim Hasselbeck, Mark Brunell, Jason Campbell, Todd Collins, Donovan McNabb, Rex Grossman, John Beck, Robert Griffin III, Colt McCoy, Kirk 'Kurt' Cousins, Alex Smith, Mark Sanchez, Josh Johnson, Case Keenum, Dwayne Haskins, Kyle Allen, Taylor Heinicke, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Garrett Gilbert, and coming soon... Carson Wentz.

Let's just get right to what the Commanders have done so far this offseason.

Players they gained

QB Carson Wentz (29): The Indianapolis Colts somehow, some way found a way to unload Carson Wentz on another team. After trading first- and third-round picks for him with disastrous results last offseason, the Colts were amazingly able to salvage a return on their bad investment. The trade:

 Commanders gotColts got 
Carson Wentz 42nd overall pick in 2022 draft 
47th overall pick in 2022 draft73rd overall pick in 2022 draft 
 Conditional 3rd round pick in 2023 

That conditional third-round pick in 2023 will become a second-round pick if Wentz plays 70 percent of the Commanders' offensive snaps in 2022. A new snap count tracker! Yay!

In addition to giving up valuable draft pick capital, the Commanders are also taking on Wentz's salary in full. His cap number in 2022 will be over $28 million, lol.

In 2020, Wentz was arguably the worst starting quarterback in the NFL. He wanted out of Philly after he was benched in favor of rookie second-round pick Jalen Hurts. The Eagles obliged and sent him to Indianapolis, where he really couldn't have possibly hand-picked a better situation, as the Colts had a great offensive line, arguably the best running back in the NFL, a (modest) upgrade in wide receiver talent, a talented defense, and a head coach with whom he felt a special connection in Frank Reich. Off the field, Wentz said that the "culture and values" fit his vibes. 

And he still failed.

On paper, Wentz's stats in 2021 looked decent enough, as he threw 27 TDs vs. 7 INTs, but the eye test showed that he looked a lot like the "2019 version" of himself, with occasional "2020 version" awfulness sprinkled in. He made the occasional spectacular throw, but the moments of encouragement were overshadowed by his continued inability to make the "layup" throws.

With a 9-6 record heading into their final two games of the 2021 regular season, the Colts were near-locks to make the playoffs, needing only one win over the Las Vegas Raiders or the bottom-feeder Jacksonville Jaguars to punch their ticket to the postseason. Instead, largely due to a pair of bad performances by Wentz, the Colts lost both games and were eliminated.

The loss to the Jaguars Week 18 was particularly devastating, as Wentz completed 17 of 29 passes for 185 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT, though the numbers didn't adequately convey how ineffective he was. He also lost a fumble on a vintage "2020 Wentz" play in which he tried to throw a shovel pass instead of just eating a sack.

At the NFL Combine, Colts general manager Chris Ballard could barely muster a kind word while answering a bevy of questions about Wentz. It felt like Wentz was destined to be outright released by the Colts. 

Instead, the Commanders swooped in and paid an absolutely insane price to acquire Wentz, when the Colts had almost no leverage whatsoever. What a consistently stupid franchise Washington is.

OG Andrew Norwell (30): The Commanders lost Brandon Scherff in free agency (more on that in a minute) and they cut Ereck Flowers, opening up two holes at guard. They filled one of them with Norwell, who has started 111 games over an eight year NFL Career. He formerly played for Ron Rivera in Carolina from 2014-2017. He'll likely start at LG.

DE Efe Obada (29): I kind of like this signing, assuming it was cheap. The 6'6, 265-pound Obada had nine sacks in limited snaps the last two seasons. He'll mix into the Commanders' D-line rotation.

Noteworthy players they retained

We won't write about all these guys individually, but the Commanders clearly placed a premium on retaining the vast majority of their role players, noted here:

  1. RB J.D. McKissic
  2. WR Cam Sims
  3. S Bobby McCain
  4. S Troy Apke
  5. C Tyler Larsen
  6. C Keith Ismael
  7. LB David Mayo
  8. K Joey Slye

Noteworthy players they lost

RG Brandon Scherff: Scherff signed a three-year deal with the Jaguars worth $49.5 million. Scherff has been Washington's best offensive lineman for years, earning five Pro Bowl appearances in the last six years, and one first-team All-Pro nod in 2020. He got franchise tagged by Washington in each of the last two season, and his departure this offseason felt inevitable. That is now a huge hole to fill.

DT Matt Ioannidis: The Commanders released Ioannidis three days into free agency. His agent was pissed. Ioannidis has since signed with the Panthers.

DT Tim Settle: Settle signed a two-year deal with the Bills worth $9 million. On a loaded defensive line, Settle had five sacks in 2020, didn't do much in 2021.

TE Ricky Seals-Jones: 30-271-2 as a backup in 2021. He signed with the Giants.

QB Kyle Allen: With Wentz now in place as the QB1, for now, and Taylor Heinicke the QB2, Allen signed with the Texans.

The tale of the tape

Players gained Players retained Players lost 
QB Carson WentzRB J.D. McKissicRG Brandon Scherff
OG Andrew Norwell WR Cam Sims DT Matt Ioannidis 
DE Efe Obada S Bobby McCain DT Tim Settle 
 S Troy Apke TE Ricky Seals-Jones 
 C Tyler Larsen QB Kyle Allen 
 C Keith Ismael  
 LB David Mayo  
 K Joey Slye  


I mean, they spent valuable draft and financial resources on the broken version of Carson Wentz, who feels destined to be merely the next in a long line of disposable Washington quarterbacks. They also lost their best offensive lineman, and their defensive depth is now a little depleted.

On the bright side, they, uh, coaxed some role players to return and they'll maybe get a third- or fourth-round 2023 compensatory pick for losing their best player on offense if they sit out the rest of free agency. 🎉

Grade: D.

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