Skip to main content

News | Washington Commanders -

Free agency preview | Offensive line

Dallas Cowboys offensive tackle Tyron Smith (77) steps up to block during an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Green Bay Packers, Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024, in Arlington, Tx. The Packers won 48-32. (Perry Knotts via AP)
Dallas Cowboys offensive tackle Tyron Smith (77) steps up to block during an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Green Bay Packers, Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024, in Arlington, Tx. The Packers won 48-32. (Perry Knotts via AP)

The opinions expressed in this article do not reflect those of the team.

The start of the new league year is drawing closer by the day, and the Washington Commanders have plenty of resources to turn Dan Quinn and Adam Peters' vision for the roster into a reality.

The official salary cap number for each team isn't public knowledge. There are several websites that offer projections, and many of them have different calculations. What everyone can agree on is that the Commanders have some of the most available cap space this offseason. And with the salary cap moving up to $255.4 million, that creates even more room for them to add new players.

So, in anticipation of free agency opening on March 13 at 4 p.m., is going to look at some of the top players set to become available at each position. Next up is the offensive line.

Dallas Cowboys offensive tackle Tyron Smith (77) steps up to block during an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Green Bay Packers, Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024, in Arlington, Tx. The Packers won 48-32. (Perry Knotts via AP)

Tyron Smith

The Commanders need a left tackle now that Charles Leno Jr. is no longer on the roster, so why not look within the division at one of the best left tackles of the last decade?

Tyron Smith will be one of the oldest free agents available when the new league year starts March 13, but he also has one of the best resumes that you'll find on the open market. He has eight Pro Bowls to his name as well as five All-Pro nods. Smith, the ninth overall pick in 2011, started his career at right tackle before moving to the left side in 2012. He's still got the speed and quickness to match up with pass-rushers, too, as he's only allowed five sacks in the last six years.

As for last year, Smith was dominant as a pass-protector, posting the second highest grade in the category among tackles. Since he was drafted, Smith has finished with a top 10 pass-blocking grade in six seasons.

Availability has been a concern for Smith, particularly in the latter portion of his career. He played in just two games in 2020 and four in 2022. The 2021 and 2023 campaigns were better -- he appeared in 24 games combined in those years -- but he hasn't played a full season since 2015. However, if a team can get past his injury history, there's still a lot to like from Smith's skill set.

New England Patriots offensive linemen Trent Brown (77) and Shaq Mason (69) block during an NFL preseason game against The Washington Football Team, Thursday, August 12, 2021 in Foxborough, Mass. The Patriots defeated the Washington Football Team 22-13. (Damian Strohmeyer via AP)

Trent Brown

The Commanders have a right tackle with Andrew Wylie still on the roster, but considering how many injury issues the position has had over the years, it's always a good idea to find someone with starting experience at multiple positions. Enter Trent Brown, another tackle with plenty of snaps under his belt who has played on the right and left.

Though Brown, a former seventh-round pick by the San Francisco 49ers, started in a career-low eight games in 2023, he's coming off the best season of his career, according to PFF. Both his offensive (80.2) and run-blocking grades (80.7) are the best in his nine years as an NFL tackle.

Brown's pass-blocking grade (72.8) wasn't as impressive, but it did represent a bounce back year for him. After allowing eight sacks and 39 total pressures in 2022, he had just 17 pressures and three sacks in 2023.

At age 30, Brown likely still has a few good years left in him as a starter for a team that needs offensive line help.

Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Tershawn Wharton (98) rushes against Miami Dolphins offensive tackle Robert Hunt (68) during an NFL wild-card playoff football game Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Peter Aiken)

Robert Hunt

Speaking of players who have position flexibility, Miami's Robert Hunt started as a tackle during his rookie season before moving over to guard in 2021. He's likely to have several suitors, but whichever team signs him is getting a player who has steadily improved his skill set over the years.

Injuries limited Hunt to 11 games in 2023, but he still managed to put together his best season with career-highs in offensive grade (77.1), run-blocking (75.9) and pass-blocking (74.5). He's always been a solid pass-protector (he's never allowed more than three sacks in a season), but he was only responsible for one sack in 2023.

Not only was he a key piece of the Dolphins' offensive line, which paved the way for a running game that finished sixth in yards per game, but he was also one of the best guards in the league. His offensive grade ranked sixth at his position, while his pass-blocking grade was ninth.

Hunt has spent most of his career on the right side, so if Washington were interested in him, either he or Sam Cosmi would have to move over to the left.

Detroit Lions defensive end Levi Onwuzurike (91) is blocked by Los Angeles Rams offensive tackle Rob Havenstein (79) and guard Kevin Dotson (69) during the second half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024 in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

Kevin Dotson

It was hard to find a guard that was better than Cosmi last season. Kevin Dotson, a former fourth-round pick by the Pittsburg Steelers who signed a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Rams in 2023, was one of the few able to accomplish that.

Dotson was one of the most dominant guards in football last year, earning the second highest grade from PFF behind Chris Lindstrom. He was solid in every aspect of his skill set, but he thrived as a run-blocker with the best grade in the category in the NFC. He had five games with grades of 80 or higher, including a 90.4 against the Steelers and a 90.5 against the Arizona Cardinals.

Dotson played left guard with the Steelers and was a serviceable pass-protector with just seven sacks allowed in three seasons. He was still competent once he moved to the right with the Rams, but it was undoubtedly his worst season in terms of protecting his quarterback with 20 allowed pressures. However, considering how underwhelming Washington was in both areas last season, it can't hurt to bring in an experienced starter who can perform well enough in the run and pass.

Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Connor Williams (58) and quarterback Skylar Thompson (19) at the line of scrimmage during an NFL football game against the New England Patriots Sunday, Jan. 1 2023 in Foxborough, Mass. (Kelly Gavin/Miami Dolphins via AP)

Connor Williams

The center position has been a pain point in Washington for years. The Commanders have run through multiple players over the last three seasons, and now they need to reassess the position once again. They do have former third-round pick Ricky Stromberg on the roster, but if they decide to look elsewhere, there are some interesting options with starting experience.

Take Miami's Connor Williams as an example. He's played every position on the offensive line and was most recently at center for the Dolphins. His ACL injury he suffered in December makes things tricky, though. Teams are going to have questions about his recovery before they're willing to invest money in him, but he might need to wait on the open market until the second or third wave of free agency.

Assuming he'll be healthy for the 2024 season, Williams should bring plenty of talent to his next team. He was the best center in AFC in 2023 with a grade of 86.5 from PFF and a run-blocking grade of 90.5. He has six years of experience, four of which were with the Cowboys, and has experience playing left guard. Over the last four years, his offensive grade has not dipped before 71.

Williams' recovery might bleed into the first part of the regular season, but he's only 26 years old with plenty of snaps left in him. Signing him to a multiyear contract might still be worth the investment.

Related Content