Any opinions expressed in this article do not reflect those of the team.
Now that Super Bowl LVI is in the books, the NFL 2022 offseason has officially begun.
For the Washington Commanders, it's already been a busy time since they ended the 2021 season with a win over the New York Giants. They just wrapped up an 18-month long rebrand process, shedding the Washington Football Team name and ushering in a new chapter.
But there's plenty to look forward to in the start of the new era. The new league year is only a month away, and critical questions about the roster linger. So, here's a look at four things fans need to know heading into the offseason.
1. A busy March
As mentioned above, the Commanders will need to address some needs on its roster in the third year of Ron Rivera’s tenure. And fortunately, there will be opportunities for evaluation and improvements in the near future.
That process starts with the NFL Scouting Combine, which takes place from March 1-7 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The quarterbacks will be the main topic of discussion among fans and analysts, as Rivera has stated that all options are on the table for addressing the position, but there will be scores of players at other positions (analysts have tabbed cornerback and linebacker) for the Commanders to see.
Not long after that, free agency will begin on March 16. While Rivera has been dedicated to building the core of his roster through the draft, the Commanders have managed to pick up some quality starters around this time of year, most notably J.D. McKissic and Logan Thomas.
The Commanders have plenty of flexibility in terms of cap space, so they could pursue a bevy of options at positions like receiver, which features a packed class with the likes of Allen Robinson, Davante Adams and Will Fuller.
2. Who are the Commanders' free agents?
Speaking of which, it will be a priority for the Commanders to retain as many of its impending free agents as possible. They have 23 players set to hit the open market, including McKissic, Brandon Scherff, Bobby McCain and Cam Sims.
Here's a full list of Washington's free agents:
- Brandon Scherff
- Ryan Fitzpatrick
- Jon Bostic
- Cam Sims
- Cornelius Lucas
- J.D. McKissic
- Darryl Roberts
- Bobby McCain
- Adam Humphries
- Tyler Larsen
- Danny Johnson
- Ricky Seals-Jones
- Jared Norris
- Torry McTyer
- DeAndre Carter
- Jamil Douglas
- Kyle Allen
- Joey Slye
- Troy Apke
- Najee Toran
- Jordan Kunaszyk
- Tim Settle
- Jalen Jelks
3. Who are the Commanders playing in 2022?
The Commanders don't know the full details of the 2022 season (that doesn't come until the schedule reveal in May), but they do know who they'll be playing:
Home: Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay Packers, Tennessee Titans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Cleveland Browns, Atlanta Falcons
Away: Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, San Francisco 49ers
In addition to its NFC East games, Washington will play every team in the AFC South and NFC North this upcoming season. Washington finished third in its division, so it will also play the third-place finishers in the AFC North (Cleveland Browns) and NFC South (Atlanta Falcons). Washington will play the Detroit Lions and San Francisco 49ers for the third time in four seasons.
The team had a combined record of 2-2 in previous matchups, winning against the Lions in 2019 and the 49ers in 2020. The 23-15 win over the 49ers in Week 14 of the 2020 season was part of the four-game win streak that helped Washington secure an NFC East championship.
Washington will host the Tennessee Titans for the first time since 2014, when it secured a 19-17 win over the AFC team. The Titans were the top seed in the conference before being eliminated by the Cincinnati Bengals in the playoffs. Washington will also travel to play the Bears for the first time since 2016, allowing Rivera to coach against the team he played for from 1984-92.
4. Where are the Commanders drafting?
Washington officially received the 11th overall pick and a 22-7 win over the Giants. It will be the fourth time in five seasons that the team will select a player in the top half of the draft.
Washington will pick 11th for first time in franchise history, but based on who it selected at similar spots in years past, it's apparent that it can snag long term impactful players in that area of the draft. Defensive tackle
Daron Payne was taken 13th overall in 2018 and has recorded at least 50 tackles in every season. He's grabbed 14.5 sacks in that time, including 4.5 in 2021. Jonathan Allen, selected 17th overall in 2017, signed a contract extension before the season and had a career year with nine sacks.
Based on how Washington has used its previous first-round picks under head coach Ron Rivera, it can be expected that whoever the team drafts will compete immediately. Chase Young, the 2022 No. 2 overall pick and Defensive Rookie of the Year, has started in every game he's played in and created an instant impact on the defensive line. Jamin Davis, who was picked 19th overall in the 2021 draft, flashed at various points of the season and started in eight games.