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Commanders re-signees excited for new direction, more opportunity

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It's hard to find a player on the Washington Commanders' roster who has stuck around more than Jeremy Reaves. This offseason marks the third coaching staff he's played for since 2018; Bruce Allen and Jay Gruden signed him to the practice squad, and Ron Rivera and Martin Mayhew kept him around and gave him a spot on the 53-man roster. Now, Adam Peters and Dan Quinn decided to make him part of the new era in Washington football.

All that's to say that Reaves has seen and played for his share of different coaching styles. He had a brief, but significant evaluation of the new leadership.

"Real deal," Reaves said. "They're not wasting any time."

The Commanders entered the new league year with half their roster hitting the open market, and whether Quinn wants to call it rebuilding or recalibrating, the new roster will be made in his and Peters' image. Though most of the open spots have been filled by new players, Washington decided to retain four players from the old regime: Reaves, tackle Cornelius Lucas, defensive end Efe Obada and receiver/return specialist Jamison Crowder.

The new staff made two things clear to the players they decided to keep: they want to win and do so the right way. Those are messages they can get behind.

"The moves they've made kind of speak for themselves," Reaves said.

The Commanders have signed 26 players -- the most in the NFL -- since the start of free agency, 22 of which are new additions. They range from some of the best to play their position, like linebacker Bobby Wagner, to those looking for a chance to compete, such as guard Nick Allegretti.

What the Commanders haven't done is retain any starters from their own pool of free agents. What's more, they've decided to move on from others still under contract. Charles Leno Jr., Nick Gates and Logan Thomas were all released before free agency, creating even more spots for Peters and his staff to fill.

For the four players Washington re-signed, that presents them with a chance to be part of something new and take an active role in shaping the franchise's next chapter.

"My expectation is definitely to come in and compete to start," said Lucas, Washington's swing tackle since 2020. "I'm gonna give it my all to be out there every Sunday starting."

Lucas, who has performed well as a spot starter at both tackle spots for the last four seasons, isn't the only player coming back to Washington looking for more chances to prove themselves with a new staff. Crowder feels that he showed he can still make plays on special teams, but he also has confidence in his ability as an offensive weapon. He caught 16 passes on 20 targets, amassing 159 yards and a touchdown.

Crowder doesn't want to be given a job; he simply wants a chance to show how he can contribute, and Quinn and his new staff are going to give him that.

"I wanna come in and compete for a spot at receiver and then obviously special teams," Crowder said. "So, that's my mindset right now, and that's the role I think that they see me in at right now."

There's also Quinn and the new staff's reputation to consider. Crowder, Lucas, Obada and Reaves all had options with other teams. They could have had the same opportunity to make an impact with another team, and many of their former teammates, including starters Kamren Curl and Cody Barton.

Washington's four re-signees decided to stay in the DMV, partly because of Quinn's reputation as someone who knows how to build relationships with his players and create a strong work environment. They're already starting to see the difference around the building.

"It feels electric," Obada said. "It feels exciting. It feels new. It feels genuine. Everybody's focused. Everybody's trying to figure out how to get better."

Excitement was in the air the Washington Commanders' incoming free agents made their first trips to the facility. Check out the top photos of their arrival.

Obada already had some, albeit brief, experience with how Quinn likes to structure his culture. He spent training camp with the Falcons when Quinn was their head coach, and while the two didn't spend much time together, it was clear to Obada cared about his players. Case in point: Quinn reached out to Obada after the defensive end broke his leg to offer some emotional support.

"That meant so much to me," Obada said. "I'm just happy he's here. He's a great guy. He's a player's guy, a guy that cares about people and your development. Honestly, this organization's got a bargain. They got a great guy in him."

For those who haven't played for him, the difference was felt immediately.

"I can just sense is a little different in the building, and I think that's the exciting thing about it, just coming in today and just kind of sensing that feel and that change in the atmosphere in the building."

Whether or not all the effort Quinn and Peters have put into changing the roster will equal more wins is yet to be determined, but the players they retained have bought into the new vision. They believe in the direction they're headed in and want to be part of the collaborative, player-centric focus the staff has touted as the foundation for success.

The best part about it: they can tell those emotions are genuine.

"They seem like good guys," Lucas said. "They seem caring. They seem very in tune with the new needs of the program and trying to meet those needs."

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