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Trading down would be a ‘bold move’ for the Commanders

NFL free agency begins in less than three weeks. On Friday, the NFL announced the salary cap would be $255.4 million for the 2024 season — a $30 million increase from 2023.

No team has more salary cap space than the Washington Commanders. That’s good because Washington needs plenty of help. The Commanders also hold the No. 2 overall pick in the 2024 NFL draft and are expected to target a quarterback.

With so many needs, could Washington entertain moving down in the draft?

Aaron Schatz of ESPN recently suggested a “bold move” this offseason for all 32 NFL teams. His bold move for Washington was moving down.

Here are some of Schatz’s words:

The Commanders need a quarterback. There are a couple of top quarterback prospects in this draft class. Therefore, the obvious move is for the Commanders to use the No. 2 pick on a quarterback. However, that’s not the bold move. The bold move would be to trade down and accumulate more picks they can use to rebuild their whole roster.

Let’s start with the easy trade down: one spot to No. 3 with the Patriots. We all want to believe that we can properly rank the best quarterback prospects, but we certainly learned from the 2023 season that the higher-rated quarterback going into the draft doesn’t necessarily turn into the better quarterback in the NFL. So, if New England loves Drake Maye or Jayden Daniels, trade the Patriots the No. 2 pick, get a couple of lower-round picks and just use the No. 3 pick on whichever quarterback the Pats don’t want.

Schatz even suggested potentially moving down further for the Commanders with teams such as Denver, Atlanta and Pittsburgh to draft a quarterback, just not one as highly regarded as Caleb Williams, Drake Maye, or Jayden Daniels.

He’s right; this would be a bold move. It would also be a bad move. Any other year, I would agree with Schatz. Trading back is always a wise decision because it allows you to add further draft assets. But when you’ve had quarterback questions for decades and are in a position to draft one of three top QB prospects, you can’t pass up that opportunity.

Quarterback is the most important position in sports. Sure, Williams, Maye, or Daniels may not be successful in the NFL. No one knows. But the same thing has been said about some of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. You must attempt to find that guy every year until you land him.

Some Washington fans want the Commanders to trade back and build around Sam Howell. That didn’t seem like a bad idea around Week 9, but Howell fell apart over the second half of the season. In fairness to Howell, he didn’t have a lot of help, but some of Howell’s issues, such as taking too many sacks or turning the ball over, can be considered fatal flaws. He has proven he can play in the NFL and perhaps be a starter, but the Commanders are in a position to land a potentially elite talent and must go all-in to find that guy.

Washington has a new coaching staff. On offense, the Commanders have four former college quarterbacks on staff, led by offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury. They are building an infrastructure to support their young passer — or passers.

The next move should be about using free agency to improve the offensive line. Then, in April’s NFL draft, Washington should select its quarterback and use the rest of its selections to continue building around him.

Trading down remains a great idea for the Commanders — in the second round and down. In the first round, they should take a quarterback at No. 2 overall and not look back.

 

Story originally appeared on Commanders Wire