What a year it was for the Washington Commanders. Recapping the 2022 campaign is probably worth an article in itself. The franchise changed its name, Carson Wentz won a thriller over the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 1 thanks to Jahan Dotson, Taylor Heinicke stepped in at quarterback, got the season back on track and even handed the Philadelphia Eagles their first loss of the season. Then, things went downhill.
Washington went 0-1-1 against the New York Giants, which began a three-game losing streak. The Commanders revealed a mascot that looked like a Chuck E. Cheese character that went rogue to create his own pulled pork franchise and then Wentz's three-interception performance at home against the Cleveland Browns ended the season.
There were both good and bad things to take away from the 2022 campaign. Washington has three legitimate wide receivers including a potential rising star in Dotson, plus the defense impressed at times. However, the Commanders still don't have a QB1, and there are other holes to fill on the roster. Below, we will examine three ways to fix the Commanders for 2023.
1. Be careful with the quarterback addition
The Commanders are going to be in the market for a quarterback this offseason, that we know. However, this section is more about not messing up at the position rather than "fixing" the issue.
The Wentz flier didn't work out, as virtually everyone predicted. It's very alarming that casual NFL fans knew more about him than head coach Ron Rivera. The Commanders aren't in a position to seduce Tom Brady or draft Bryce Young/C.J. Stroud, so should Washington do its homework on players like Derek Carr and Jimmy Garoppolo? Absolutely. But I'm not interested in overpaying a player his current team isn't interested in keeping around.
Now, let's talk about Sam Howell. In his first career start this past Sunday, the rookie out of North Carolina completed 11 of 19 passes for 169 yards, one touchdown and one interception, and also rushed for 35 yards and a touchdown in a 20-point win over the Dallas Cowboys' starters. Who in the world was expecting that explosion? Some of those throws left mouths ajar! It's just one game, but I don't believe those who want Howell to be in consideration to start in 2023 are overreacting. I'm hosting a quarterback battle between whoever I add and Howell this offseason.
2. Add to the secondary
We could discuss figuring out the future at linebacker or how to re-sign Daron Payne, but the cornerback position is a spot I hope Washington focuses on here. Rivera calling it a "position of interest" on Tuesday is an understatement, I hope.
Kendall Fuller is a good player and I'm very encouraged with the progress Benjamin St-Juste made in Year Two. Still, I want to add a legitimate starter through free agency or the draft. There aren't many big names in free agency (James Bradberry, Jamel Dean, Cameron Sutton), so maybe the Commanders use a first-round pick at this position.
In looking at the mock drafts from our CBS Sports NFL Draft experts, they seem to agree with me. Both Ryan Wilson and Josh Edwards have Washington taking Georgia cornerback Kelee Ringo with its first pick. Cornerback is one of the premier positions in the NFL to me, and Washington has to prioritize this spot -- especially with the Commanders having to face the likes of CeeDee Lamb, A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith multiple times a year.
3. Add to the offensive line
If Washington doesn't take a cornerback with its first-round pick, maybe it could take an offensive lineman. The Commanders have some decisions to make on the offensive line this offseason, and one of those decisions they should make is adding a starter. Let's take a look at each of the five spots.
Will Charles Leno be your left tackle in 2023? He signed a three-year extension just 12 months ago. Andrew Norwell is a left guard, but not irreplaceable. What about center? Chase Roullier is talented, but has played in just 10 games over the past two years due to a broken fibula and then a torn MCL. Those are not insignificant injuries, and Rivera said himself the position needs to be addressed. Moving over to the other guard spot, Trai Turner and Wes Schweitzer are both free agents. I anticipate the former will not be back. Cornelius Lucas is a tackle, but where does Sam Cosmi fit in ideally? He's played some at right guard and right tackle.
The bottom line is that the Commanders need to add young talent on the offensive line, and it's something general manager Martin Mayhew understands. This unit is not full of elite talent.
Honorable mention: Sell the team
If you don't think ownership drama affects the football team itself, then you're wrong. Granted, every player on the Commanders has had to learn how to play in front of a fan base that holds some level of disdain for the franchise they found themselves supporting. Multiple times this season, players and Coach Rivera have been asked about noise that was outside of their control. That's not something they should have to deal with. For a fresh start -- to finish the rebrand, if you will -- Dan Snyder needs to move on and enjoy his billions in Portofino, Italy.
The Commanders announced Nov. 2 that the Snyders had hired Bank of America Securities to "consider potential transactions." League sources estimated to CBS Sports NFL Insider Jonathan Jones that the full franchise would sell between $5.5 and $6.5 billion, but some believe it could go for even more. Commanders fans haven't had a ton to cheer about over the last decade or so. Give them this.