Commanders among the NFL's most improved teams after first wave of free agency


The Washington Commanders entered free agency with at least 27 free agents, plenty of roster holes, but the most salary cap room in the NFL.

How would new general manager Adam Peters approach free agency?

Peters gave some hints ahead of free agency that the Commanders would always prefer to build the roster via the NFL draft and use free agency to supplement the roster.

On the first day of the legal tampering period ahead of free agency, Washington agreed to terms with six players. The Commanders remained busy, signing several more players last week, including future Hall of Fame linebacker Bobby Wagner. Since Sunday, Washington has signed three cornerbacks to add depth after Kendall Fuller’s departure.

Much of Peters’ strategy was to sign players with ties to new head coach Dan Quinn and his coaching staff to raise Washington’s floor in 2024 without sacrificing future cap flexibility.

Mission accomplished. The Commanders will be better in 2024. They’ve filled numerous holes that will allow them to use the 2024 NFL draft to focus on adding the best player available. Washington holds nine picks in next month’s draft, including six of the top 100.

How much better is Washington now compared to the end of the season? That’s difficult to say, but it was a low bar. The Commanders were 4-13 last season.

Gilberto Manzano of Sports Illustrated recently named his most improved teams after the first week of free agency. Manzano had eight teams on the list, with Washington coming in at No. 6.

The teams that make the most noise in free agency often regret the spring shopping spree come fall. Perhaps the Commanders have found the right formula for spending in free agency after many of their signings went unnoticed.

The additions of Armstrong and Luvu are two of many smart, savvy signings the Commanders had last week. Their presence will help one of the worst defenses in the league, and it didn’t require the team to overspend on the open market. Armstrong, the former underrated Cowboys edge rusher, agreed to a three-year, $45 million contract. Luvu, the former versatile playmaker of the Panthers, agreed to a three-year, $36 million contract.

Washington also added (Clelin) Ferrell, Wagner and (Jeremy) Chinn on one-year deals. New coach Dan Quinn now has the talent to improve the defense without the team having to make long-term commitments. The incoming rookie quarterback—the Commanders have the No. 2 pick in the draft—could have a decent surrounding with the arrivals of Ekeler, Allegretti and Biadasz.

Comparing Washington’s “shopping spree” to some of the others in recent years isn’t a fair comparison. The Commanders didn’t shop at the top of the market for anyone. Armstrong and Luvu received nice three-year deals but were hardly market-setting contracts.

Peters can now focus on continuing to add depth and find Washington’s quarterback of the future next month.

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