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6 pending free agents the Commanders need to re-sign

In two weeks, the legal tampering period of the NFL offseason begins. NFL teams can negotiate contracts with impending free agents from other teams for two days, but nothing can be signed until the new league year opens two days later on March 13.

That gives all 32 NFL teams the next two weeks exclusivity in negotiating with their own free agents. The Washington Commanders have 28 free agents, 18 of which are unrestricted free agents.

The Commanders have a new general manager (Adam Peters) and a new coaching staff led by Dan Quinn. So, while other teams have been preparing for free agency, Washington’s new staff has been evaluating the current roster, including its free agents.

How many of the Commanders’ free agents should they retain in 2024?

We name six free agents Washington should re-sign. Not included are wide receiver Curtis Samuel and cornerback Kendall Fuller. It’s not that the Commanders wouldn’t love both players back, but Fuller is older, has some knee concerns, and has earned a raise. Washington can look to the draft to replace Samuel’s productivity for cheaper.

Here are those six free agents, for which we will focus only on the unrestricted free agents.

S Kam Curl

Washington Commanders safety <a class="link " href="https://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/32886/" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Kamren Curl;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Kamren Curl</a> (31). Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Washington Commanders safety Kamren Curl (31). Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Curl is a former seventh-round pick who quickly outplayed his rookie contract. If the previous regime were still around, Curl likely would have already been extended. The Commanders need good players — especially good, young players. Curl is a good, young player. While some fans think Washington should sign Curl at all costs, particularly because they have the most cap room in the NFL, that should not be the case.

Curl may want to test the market; if he does, that is fine. That could help Washington. Curl doesn’t force turnovers which could hinder him on the open market, but that doesn’t take away from the fact he is an excellent player.

OT Cornelius Lucas

Washington Commanders offensive tackle Cornelius Lucas (78). (AP Photo/Terrance Williams)
Washington Commanders offensive tackle Cornelius Lucas (78). (AP Photo/Terrance Williams)

Cornelius Lucas was one of Ron Rivera’s best free-agent signings. Originally signed to a two-year deal in 2020, Lucas re-signed with the Commanders in 2022 on another two-year deal. Since first coming to Washington in 2020, Lucas has appeared in 62 games with 31 starts. He’s started at left and right tackle.

The knock on Lucas is his age. He’ll be 33 in July. However, for a 10-year veteran, there isn’t a lot of wear on Lucas. He’s the perfect swing tackle. He should have a market, but the Commanders should work to bring him back on another two-year deal to serve as their third tackle.

S Jeremy Reaves

Jeremy Reaves #39 of the Washington Commanders. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
Jeremy Reaves #39 of the Washington Commanders. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

Jeremy Reaves has been one of the best stories for Washington over the last few seasons. In 2022, the first year he made the 53-man roster out of training camp, he made the Pro Bowl and was named first-team All-Pro as a special-teams player.

Unfortunately, his season was cut short due to a knee injury in 2023. Reaves is an excellent player. He’s 27 and is a beloved figure amongst his teammates and the fan base. In addition to his terrific work on special teams, Reaves is an ideal backup safety. Anytime he’s been pressed into action, he’s always played well. You keep players like Reaves.

RB Antonio Gibson

Antonio Gibson #24 of the Washington Commanders. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
Antonio Gibson #24 of the Washington Commanders. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Antonio Gibson was a third-round pick in the 2020 NFL draft and looked poised for superstardom after his rookie season. Unfortunately, neither offensive coordinator Gibson played for ever knew how to best use him. A former college receiver, Washington had initially planned to use him as an offensive weapon lining him up everywhere. But in the training camp of his rookie season, they made him the full-time running back, and he thrived as a rookie.

Over the next few years, Gibson battled fumble issues and didn’t always look comfortable as a primary running back. He was always best used in space and capable of making big plays. The Commanders should allow him to test the open market and consider bringing him back. He could make an impact in Kliff Kingsbury’s offense.

Some will say you can find a running back in the draft. Sure, you can. But Gibson is a good player, and if he’s not super-expensive, why not give him a chance under this new regime?

LB Khaleke Hudson

<a class="link " href="https://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/32675/" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Tua Tagovailoa;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Tua Tagovailoa</a> #1 of the <a class="link " href="https://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/teams/miami/" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Miami Dolphins;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Miami Dolphins</a> reacts after being sacked by Khaleke Hudson #47 of the Washington Commanders. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

When Dan Quinn and (defensive coordinator) Joe Whitt Jr. described the type of players they were looking for, they described Hudson to a tee. Fast, smart, physical, violent, etc. Hudson is a former late-round pick who hasn’t played much on defense over the past four years but excelled each time he did play.

Hudson is also a standout on special teams and can play multiple linebacker positions. He isn’t going to cost a lot. The new coaching staff will prioritize linebackers, which will be in Hudson’s favor.

DE Casey Toohill

Casey Toohill #95 of the Washington Commanders hits <a class="link " href="https://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/34030/" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Desmond Ridder;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Desmond Ridder</a> #9 of the <a class="link " href="https://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/teams/atlanta/" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Atlanta Falcons;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Atlanta Falcons</a>. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The Commanders traded starting defensive ends Chase Young and Montez Sweat in October. Their primary backups, Casey Toohill, James Smith-Williams, and Efe Obada, are all free agents. Obada is a veteran who suffered a serious injury late in the season. Washington will likely decide between Toohill and Smith-Williams and look to free agency for a starting defensive end and the draft for depth to a roster that features second-year players K.J. Henry and Andre Jones Jr.

Both Toohill and Smith-Williams thrive in their roles as part of a rotation. Neither is a full-time starter. However, Toohill is the better pass rusher which will likely help him with the new coaching staff.

Story originally appeared on Commanders Wire