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Tress Way explains why giving No. 5 jersey to Jayden Daniels was 'the right thing'


Tress Way has been one of the Washington Commanders' most reliable players since he joined the team in 2014. He's a four-time captain, a two-time Pro Bowler and a fan favorite because of his personality and production. All of that was done while wearing No. 5.

The Commanders are starting a new era and added a pivotal piece to their future by taking LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels with the No. 2 overall pick. He was one of the most dynamic players in college football last year, winning the Heisman Trophy for hitting career-highs in completion rate (72.2%), passing yards (3,812), passing touchdowns (40) and rushing yards (1,134).

Daniels also happens to wear No. 5.

Head coach Dan Quinn and general manager Adam Peters gave Way time to think about what to do with his jersey number, but with rookies reporting for minicamp and joint OTAs around the corner, a decision needed to be made. In the end, with a little negotiating between the two players, Way decided to pass the jersey number on to Daniels, meaning that he'll be sporting a different number for the first time in over a decade.

"I just feel like there's just so much excitement around this organization, hands down the most I have ever seen," Way said on the most recent episode of Command Center. "All of the excitement [is] building and building and building. I just feel like this is...a very small part that I could do."

Way has come full circle with passing on the jersey to Daniels since the rookie joined the team. He originally declined to give it away "right out the gate" because of the connection he had with the number. He felt wanted for the first time in his career when Washington picked him up off the waiver wire following his release from the Bears. The No. 5 felt right to Way from the moment he picked it, and since then he's been not just one of the better punters in the league but the most consistent player for Washington in the past 10 years with a touchback rate of 6.2%, an average of 46.9 yards per punt and 37.7% of his punts landing inside the 20-yard line.

The Washington Commanders were back on the field to continue their offseason workout program. Check out the top photos from Tuesday's action.

But the decision didn't sit well with Way, who started to tear up on Command Center when asked about giving up the number. He brought up the fact that if he gets named a captain for a fifth time this season, the "C" on his chest will go from white to gold. "It's gonna be weird," he said, "if I give up the number the first time I get that 'C' filled in. It's gonna be a different number."

When Way brought up the concerns in a conversation with his wife, she asked him a question: "Why do you have the 'C' in the first place?' It made him think about Daniels and "what's going on in his head and his heart."

So, to show his support for Daniels and the franchise's new era, he changed his mind and gave the jersey to the rookie.

"It is a very big piece of humble pie to give up this number," Way said. "But I feel like it's a bite I should take either way. I feel like it's the right thing."

To be clear, Way is not giving the jersey away for free. He doesn't want money, but he did come up with "a couple cool ideas" for what he and Daniels could do for the swap. His alma mater, Oklahoma, is going to be in the SEC, so he suggested that perhaps he could get tickets to the first LSU-Oklahoma game. He also brought up the possibility of having fans submit pictures of them wearing Way's old number to the team so Daniels could buy them a jersey with Way's new number on it and a personal letter from Way himself.

The details are still being worked out, but Way has embraced heading into his 11th season with a new look. As for what the new number will be, Way hasn't decided yet, although he did confirm he'll be wearing an uneven number by the start of the season.

"My son, Beau, he's got a five jersey and he also has two other jerseys. He's got 39 for [Jeremy Reaves] and 17 for Terry [McLaurin]. So, maybe I could go after one of their jerseys," he said with a smile.

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