Commanders to sign veteran guard Trai Turner

Washington Commanders signed veteran guard Trai Turner Monday.

Washington has made it known it is going to sign its first post-draft NFL free agent, guard Trai Turner.

Turner played for …. well of course, the Carolina Panthers and turns age 29 in June. The former third-round pick of the Panthers in the 2014 NFL draft (92 overall), played six seasons in Carolina under current Washington head coach Ron Rivera.

Turner played the last two seasons for the Los Angeles Chargers (2020) and the Pittsburgh Steelers (2021).

It is believed Turner and the Commanders agreed to a one-year deal for $3 million. Turner has been a stud in the league, having been a Pro-Bowler in the 2015-2019 seasons.

Former Panthers guard Andrew Norwell signed with Washington earlier in March, as Washington sought to replace left guard Erick Flowers whom they released in March.

Turner is being brought to bring quality to the right guard spot along with Wes Schweitzer after Brandon Scherff declared multiple times he wanted to conclude his career in Washington, yet signed the very first day of free agency with Jacksonville.

Rivera last had a winning season in Carolina in 2017 (11-5). Understandably, there will be questions about how often former Carolina players can continue to be called upon and actually contribute, improving Washington.

There have even been comments alluding to the Washington “Commanthers.” Yet, also understandably, this is only a one-year deal, so Rivera and the Commanders are not making a long-term commitment, nor is Turner to them.

Instant analysis: Washington selects Cole Turner at No. 149

Cole Turner is an intriguing fifth-round selection for the Commanders.

With Logan Thomas rehabbing a torn ACL, the Washington Commanders selected Cole Turner with the 149th pick in Day 3 of the 2022 NFL Draft.

Turner, out of Nevada, met with Washington for a private workout recently, along with Nevada quarterback Carson Strong. Turner was actually a wide receiver then transitioned to tight end.

Anyone watching Carson Wentz while a Philadelphia Eagle, recalls Wentz loved to throw to his tight ends. Turner brings a big target to the Washington offense measuring 6-foot-6 and 246 pounds.

He only ran a 4.76 40 yard dash.  Yet, Turner does seem to be a natural pass-catching tight end on film and could become productive in the red zone for the Commanders. During his senior season at Nevada, Turner collected 62 receptions for 677 yards and 10 touchdown receptions.

When looking at the film of Turner running routes and catching passes, older Washington fans may be reminded of former Washington TE Clint Didier. Didier was 6-foot-5, 240 pounds and in his six seasons as a Redskin, caught 129 passes for 1,815 yards and 19 touchdown receptions, averaging 14.1 yards per reception.

Washington was selecting No. 149 because they had traded No. 120 to Carolina for the No. 144 and 149 selections. With 144, the Commanders took UNC QB Sam Howell and then Turner at 149.




Instant analysis: Washington selects Sam Howell at No. 144

Sam Howell was a steal for the Washington Commanders in round five.

Looking for quarterback depth, the Washington Commanders selected North Carolina’s Sam Howell with the 144th pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Washington had actually owned the No. 120 pick but traded back with (pause) you guessed it, the Carolina Panthers, enabling the Commanders to launch the 5th round with the opening pick.

Howell is reunited with former Tar Heel and current Commander wide receiver Dyami Brown, taken in the third round of the 2021 draft.

Howell threw 92 TD passes to only 23 interceptions at UNC and became the sixth quarterback drafted in this year’s rookie class.

Howell is tough physically and mentally, not afraid to run and throws a nice long ball as well. Washington fans will love to see his long ball next preseason.

The Patriots having chosen QB Bailey Zappe late in the 4th round, surprisingly meant Howell was still available for Washington. Coach Ron Rivera had said all along, he would like to have Wentz, Heinicke and a rookie. He probably never dreamed it would be Sam Howell at No. 144.

Great value, great potential this late in the draft. Rivera, Mayhew and Hurney could not pass up Howell.

Instant analysis: Washington selects Percy Butler in 4th round

Percy Butler can help Washington on defense and special teams immediately.

The Washington Commanders selected Percy Butler (Safety) out of Louisiana at No. 113 on day 3 of the 2022 NFL draft in Las Vegas.

Butler is a tremendous athlete running a 4.36 40, who will instantly replace Deshazor Everett, being much better in pass coverage, and help on special teams his rookie year backing up Bobby McCain.

Pro Football Talk analyst Chris Simms praised Butler before the draft, and literally as soon as Washington selected him.

Troy Apke has been the gunner, playing mostly special teams. It could also be the case that the defensive coaches may be looking to replace Apke as well. Apke was converted to cornerback last season.

Butler was second-team All-Sun Belt Conference his senior season of 2021, accumulating 61 tackles, six for loss, four pass breakups, one blocked kick in 12 games.

Well, the young man certainly possesses a great deal of confidence.



Instant analysis: Washington selects Phidarian Mathis in 2nd round

Washington selected Alabama DT Phidarian Mathis in the 2nd round of the NFL draft. Mathis will help restock a former position of strength.

“With the 47th pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, the Washington Commanders select D (defensive) tackle Phidarian Mathis, Alabama!”, announced former Washington wide receiver Santana Moss.

Mathis is huge, standing 6-foot-4 1/4, weighing 310 pounds. As a senior in 2021, he was second-team All-SEC when he recorded 53 tackles, 12 tackles for a loss, 9 sacks, and was a team captain.

ESPN analyst Louis Riddick commented saying Mathis is not going to impress with his athletic ability. But did assert, “he will impress you with consistency, with heavy hands. He will flash power, resetting the line of scrimmage against the run. Just a solid fundamental pick for Washington.”

The context of this selection cannot be ignored. The team was loaded at defensive tackle with starters Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne and Tim Settle and Matt Ioannidis as the capable reserves.

This week the front office determined they would not extend starter Daron Payne. This coming after they permitted the capable and inexpensive Settle to sign with Buffalo for only $9 million over two years and released Ioannidis.

The front office created the need at this position early in the draft. It is a fair criticism. It is also fair to commend the front office for realizing they absolutely needed to trade back in round one from No. 11, enabling them to obtain two additional draft choices in this draft (98, 120). With this pick, they have addressed a need at defensive tackle.

ESPN analyst Mel Kiper stated Mathis is going to need to prove he is not a two-down player in the NFL. He also added he was surprised to have not heard Connecticut’s Travis Jones’ name called or Oklahoma’s Perrion Winfrey prior to Mathis by Washington.

Washington’s recent history of 2nd-round picks is not very encouraging

Washington has struggled with 2nd-round selections in the last decade. Hopefully, Sam Cosmi was the start of a more successful trend.

We are all certainly hoping tonight that with the 47th overall selection in the 2022 NFL draft, Washington will get it right by finding a productive contributor.

It can’t be ignored, that Washington has experienced many a nightmare when it comes to second-round selections in the last decade. Hopefully last year’s pick, Sam Cosmi, was the start of a more successful trend.

Who are the last 10 players Washington has selected in the second round?

Samuel Cosmi (2021), Derrius Guice (2018), Ryan Anderson (2017), Su’a Cravens (2016), Preston Smith (2015), Trent Murphy (2014), David Amerson (2013), Jarvis Jenkins (2011), Devin Thomas, Fred Davis, Malcom Kelly (2008).

Ok, that was 11, not 10. But how can I talk about Washington’s second-round picks while excluding the horrible memory of the 2008 draft? All three players were receivers (Davis a USC tight end), and endured very disappointing careers. Thomas never flashed, was just a guy. Davis started well, but character issues resulted in a crash and burn sadly for him.

Kelly? Why was he ever drafted in Round 2 when at the time, there were injury concerns? Even worse was when it leaked out some of the football staff actually voiced they wanted to draft Jamaal Charles but were overruled. For younger readers, Charles (Texas) was a four-time Pro Bowler, two-time All-Pro, rushed for 7,563 yards, 44 rushing touchdowns and averaged an impressive 5.4 yards per carry.

Jenkins (Clemson DE) was largely ineffective his entire three years in Washington, even getting suspended for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.

Amerson (NC State CB) played on three teams in his six NFL seasons, even later admitting that while with Washington, he had spent many nights playing video games instead of studying opponents and getting enough sleep.

Murphy (Stanford DE) was drafted when Washington traded back with Dallas, who drafted DeMarcus Lawrence. Murphy had some moments but faded, and he too was suspended for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs.

Cravens (USC LB) very early revealed himself to have emotional issues and was traded after only one season, only lasting one season in Denver as well.

Anderson (Alabama LB) didn’t start a game his first two seasons, forced five fumbles in season three, but struggled in his fourth and final season.

Guice (LSU RB) was such a train wreck, he was arrested on domestic violence charges, tore an ACL, only played in five games and even LSU erased his stats from their record books because of inappropriate behavior.

Only Preston Smith and Samuel Cosmi look to have been good second-round selections for Washington. Smith in four seasons accumulated 59 QB hits and 24.5 sacks, but he was not resigned and Green Bay wasted no time signing him. Cosmi (Texas OT) only played in nine games in 2021 (started all nine), but performed quite well, and looks to have a promising future as a Commander in the NFL.

Instant analysis of Washington picking Jahan Dotson in 1st round

The Commanders deserve praise for moving back from No. 11 to No. No. 16 and still landing a good player.

The Washington Commanders tonight have selected Jahan Dotson No. 16 overall in the first round of the 2022 NFL draft.

The 5-foot-10, 178-pound wide receiver from Penn State, becomes the first player drafted by the Washington “Commanders”, the franchise having become the “Commanders” on February 2.

My assignment is to analyze this selection and not cheer or needlessly criticize, so here goes.

At only 5-10 and 178 pounds, size should be one’s first concern that comes to mind. He is a bit undersized, and the NFL is a brutal sport for the undersized receiver if he gets caught over the middle with weighty shots.

Yet, it must also be stated early that Dotson is explosive with the ball in his hands. Watch the tape. Against good competition, Dotson makes big plays as both a receiver and a returner. DeAndre Carter departed, signing with the Chargers, so Dotson was selected to help as a returner at least in 2022.

Additionally, it should be noted, that Penn State did not have great quarterback play, thus Dotson is talented and was productive, though they lacked a great passer. He was known to possess great hand-eye coordination, thus he does not drop many passes.

It should not be ignored that Dotson was not on Daniel Jeremiah’s next best available list when Washington was on the clock.

So, it is perfectly reasonable to ask, “Similarly to last year, did Washington reach a bit for Dotson as they clearly did for Jamin Davis in the first round in 2021?

There is no question Dotson is someone the trio of Rivera, Mayhew and Hurney had their eye on because he could have been available a few more picks down the board.

Unlike Davis last year, Dotson will not be asked to play a much different position as Davis was last year, moving from the outside to inside linebacker. Dotson will bring explosiveness to returning and running with the ball after the catch. Though on paper it looks similar, I can’t imagine the results being similar to Davis struggling last year as their first-round pick.

Dotson finished catching the second-most passes in Penn State history and was first-team Big 10 in 2021.

Washington actually owned the No. 11 overall position and with the holes in their roster, and not possessing draft picks in rounds 3 or 5, they wisely traded back with New Orleans five spots, obtaining picks 16, 98 and 120.

Thus, in the first analysis, moments after the trade and selection of Dotson, Washington has obtained an instant playmaker and picked up two more draft choices in the top 120.

Job well, done Ron Rivera, Martin Mayhew and Marty Hurney.

Washington picks up Montez Sweat’s 5th-year option

The Washington Commanders have already made the determination that they will pick up Montez Sweat’s 5th-year option

Though the deadline is Monday, May 1, the Washington Commanders have already made the determination that they will exercise the fifth-year option on Montez Sweat’s contract.

The Commanders’ decision to pick up his option will result in the defensive end being guaranteed $11.5 million for the 2023 season.

This development comes only one day after it was revealed the Commanders have no intention to extend defensive tackle Daron Payne. Washington inexplicably let fellow defensive tackles Tim Settle and Matt Ioannidis go in March. Settle signed with Buffalo for only $9 million over two years and Ioannidis was released.

If the front office was not going to extend Payne, they could have kept both Settle and Ioannidis, and then traded Payne for a draft pick or two earlier in the offseason for more than they will get now when they have revealed they need to trade him.

The moves mean Washington will have Jonathan Allen, Sweat and Chase Young securely through the 2023 season and with their losing Ioannidis, Settle and possibly Payne, they are most likely to draft a defensive tackle this week, as well as sign a veteran free agent defensive tackle following the draft.

Sweat was selected by Washington 26th overall in the 2019 draft and is still only 25 years old. In his three seasons in Washington, Sweat has accumulated seven forced fumbles,  21 sacks, 46 QB hits, 23 tackles for a loss and a 15-yard interception return touchdown in a 2020 Thanksgiving Day win at Dallas.

Washington Wire 2022 NFL mock draft round 1, part 2

Washington Wire’s mock draft, part two, featuring picks No. 17-32.

Washington Wire editor Bryan Manning and contributing writer Ivan Lambert joined together to produce their 2022 NFL mock draft of the first round.

Selections 1-16 were provided Tuesday, with selections 17-32 coming in this column.

This mock draft leans upon the current draft order for Bryan and Ivan’s selections. Bryan began the draft making the No. 1 pick, while Ivan picks up at No. 2, and they rotated each selection. The Washington Wire mock draft did not include trades.


Commanders’ dysfunction continues to be a distraction

Another day of drama for the Washington Commanders.

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Mike Florio and Chris Simms responded Tuesday on Pro Football Talk to the Washington Commanders’ statement:

“There has been absolutely no withholding of ticket revenue at any time. Those revenues are subject to independent audits by multiple parties. Anyone who offered testimony suggesting a withholding of revenue has committed perjury, plain and simple.”

Jason Friedman recently made the allegation and also recently testified before the Committee of Oversight and Reform. Friedman’s attorney, Lisa Banks then responded to the Commanders’ statement:

Florio: “Let this guy tell his story, Washington Commanders. If he is wrong and tells his story publicly, sue him for defamation…If he wants to speak publicly, let him do it, at his own legal peril, if he is telling a lie about the Commanders…Let’s go, let’s find out, let’s see the evidence, let’s hear the testimony. Let’s see whether or not there is something to this.”

Simms: “It’s unbelievable where Washington is; it seems they have enemies in every corner. You get the feeling they have mistreated and not been great to people for so long it seems the pied piper has finally come home. Karma is here; it is like the payback. It is dysfunctional to say the least down there (DC). If this is found to be true, Holy Cow, see you later Dan Snyder.”

Florio: “How can the league not be looking into this? If you are the NFL and this lands on your radar screen unexpectedly…maybe the league doesn’t want to look into this because they were supposed to catch it.”

Simms: “Maybe the NFL doesn’t even want to be associated with Washington right now. Let them deal with this crap, the releasing of the statement, let it all pile on them right now.”

Florio: “Yes, good point. Right now it is crumbling, and we are just going to let it keep crumbling. We are not going to help, we are not going to throw a life line. We are not going to make it worse, we are not going to make it better. Right now, we are just going to let it happen.”

The ongoing chaos is good for us (media) but it is not good for the league. Every day it is something with the Commanders… At a certain point, this is not good for anybody.”

Simms: “I know all this is allegedly, but there is a point where this is not helping the NFL in any way, shape or form. It’s not. It looks horrible right now. With Washington it’s gotten to the point where (I was with the Rodgers and Brady stories) would you just go away? I am so sick and tired of talking about them every day…Holy Cow, Washington is a disaster.”

Florio: “The only person who probably likes this is Jerry Jones since no one is paying the kind of attention to the things that have been going on with the Cowboys that they normally would be. It is a nice distraction.”