Commanders 2023 free agency preview: What happens with OL Wes Schweitzer?
The Washington Commanders are expected to be busy this offseason rebuilding an offensive line that was one of the worst in the NFL in 2022.
In the first two years of Ron Rivera’s regime, Washington’s offensive line overachieved, ranking inside the top 10 of PFF’s end-of-season offensive line rankings. It’s a point Rivera would often note when discussing the offensive line.
Well, if the Commanders overachieved in 2020 and 2021, they were quite the opposite in 2022. While Washington’s quarterbacks didn’t always help things, the offensive line did struggle both in pass blocking and run blocking. It didn’t help that the Commanders had to play four centers for the second consecutive season.
Before Washington jumps into free agency, it must decide on two internal free agents: Trai Turner and Wes Schweitzer. Turner wasn’t good in 2022, while Schweitzer played out of position at center. Will either be back in 2023?
Let’s focus on Schweitzer.
Washington Commanders guard Wes Schweitzer (71). (AP Photo/Daniel Kucin Jr.)
Games played: 7
Games started: 6
Percentage of offensive snaps played [while on active roster]: 82%
PFF grade: 59.3
Washington Commanders guard Wes Schweitzer (71) and Commanders guard Beau Benzschawel (63). Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
When the Commanders signed Wes Schweitzer to a three-year contract in 2020, many figured he’d primarily be a reserve for the Commanders. However, due to injuries, Schweitzer played in all 16 games for Washington in 2020, 13 a starter. Schweitzer filled in for the oft-injured Brandon Scherff at right guard when he wasn’t the full-time left guard. Schweitzer always held his own and was considered an asset to Washington’s offensive line.
In 2021, Schweitzer moved to a reserve role when the Commanders signed Ereck Flowers to start at left guard. Again, Schweitzer filled in for Scherff and also played some at center. He did miss six games with injuries.
In 2022, Schweitzer competed with Turner in training camp at right guard. Turner eventually took over the job, and Schweitzer filled in for Chase Roullier at center. Sadly, Schweitzer was injured in Week 3 and missed several weeks. When Tyler Larsen returned from injury, he started at center until he, too, was lost for the season with a leg injury.
Schweitzer has missed some time over the last two seasons, but nothing where you can call him injury prone. He’s an excellent depth piece that can start multiple games for you, preferably at guard. Schweitzer, who has played seven NFL seasons, is 29. He should generate interest from around the league.
Commanders depth chart
Charles Leno Jr.
*Pending free agent
Positional need: High
Washington Commanders guard Trai Turner (53), center Tyler Larsen (69), guard Andrew Norwell (68), and offensive tackle Charles Leno Jr. (72). Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
The Commanders need starters and reserves. Charles Leno will be back at left tackle. Sam Cosmi returns, but will he play guard or tackle? The Commanders will likely sign at least one starter in free agency and draft another. Don’t be surprised if Washington adds 4-5 more offensive linemen to the roster this offseason. Another big question is what will Washington do with Roullier? Can they count on him to return after his last two seasons ended with injuries? Everything is in play here.
Prediction: Schweitzer leaves Washington
Washington Football Team offensive guard Wes Schweitzer (71) spikes the ball after a touchdown. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
We haven’t heard much about Schweitzer’s free agency. Everything is focused on Daron Payne, Taylor Heinicke and Cole Holcomb. And with Washington’s potential sale, there aren’t too many folks discussing reserve offensive linemen.
The Commanders should keep Schweitzer and move on from others. But Chris Paul could be viewed as the team’s top backup guard, with the Commanders adding another center and tackle via the draft. Schweitzer’s dependability and versatility will leave him with options around the NFL. Therefore, he’ll likely be elsewhere in 2023.