Big questions loom for Commanders at NFL league meetings

Big questions loom for Commanders at NFL league meetings originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

WEST PALM BEACH, FL – The NFL descends on the iconic Breakers Hotel this week for its annual league meeting.

It marks a return to normalcy for the league as the meetings for the past two seasons have been conducted virtually. This year it’s back to business and there are a ton of issues to tackle.

Commanders coach Ron Rivera will have his hands full as part of the NFL Competition Committee as that group meets to decide the future of overtime rules. But for actual Washington football, the biggest questions start with a big trade and a quiet opening to free agency.

3 Biggest Questions

1) When Washington made its move to acquire Carson Wentz from the Indianapolis Colts, trading a pair of picks and taking on $28 million on the salary cap, the QB market looked like only a few major pieces would move and the Commanders might be left without a dance partner. Through that lens, the trade can be validated.

In the last two weeks, however, many more passers than expected became available. Matt Ryan going to the Colts for a third-round pick and cap relief and Baker Mayfield’s sudden availability probably top that list. Now that the QB situation around the league has changed, does that change the prism through which we look at the Wentz trade?

2) Outside of the Wentz trade the beginning of free agency has been a snooze for Washington. There was some excitement about getting running back JD McKissic back but only because of weird circumstances when he agreed to terms with the Buffalo Bills but then reneged.

The biggest new free agent signing is a guard, and while Andrew Norwell has been a Pro Bowler and might prove to be great, it’s not the type of move that sends fans flocking to buy new merchandise. Once the 2021 campaign ended Rivera made clear his team is ready to compete once it adds a quarterback. Well, now that he’s got the quarterback, don’t expect much more dramatic action. The question then becomes: Is Rivera right? And is Wentz the right QB?

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3) The next major event on the NFL calendar turns to the Draft in late April. Washington might try to create the impression that taking a QB is possible with its first-round pick, but the reality is as long as Washington actually makes the selection at No. 11, it won’t be a passer. With that hole filled, at least in theory, what position takes precedence in the first round? Is a trade back possible, especially considering the picks sent to the Colts to acquire Wentz? Wideout? Corner?

Double Bonus – The topic of a contract extension for Terry McLaurin will be prevalent when Rivera addresses reporters on Tuesday morning at the NFC Coaches Breakfast. Don’t expect much real information. The timeline for a McLaurin deal could hinge on a number of factors beyond Rivera’s control. Will AJ Brown or Deebo Samuel get an extension?

Both players are in similar contract situations approaching the final year on a rookie deal. Several prominent receivers — from high-end talents like Tyreek Hill (Miami) and Davante Adams (Las Vegas) to borderline Pro Bowlers like former Maryland star D.J. Moore (Carolina) — have already signed extensions this month and have helped set the market across the board. 

The other storyline to watch revolves around Washington’s ownership. This is the meeting where owners vote, pass and change rules for the entire league. It’s a big deal. And it’s unknown and perhaps unlikely that Dan Snyder will attend — though his wife, co-CEO Tanya Snyder, is definitely attending.

Keep in mind, too, that at some point NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will speak to the media, and it seems fair to expect he will be asked about the investigation into sexual harassment allegations levied at Dan Snyder during a Congressional round table last month.

This article was written by WTOP’s news partner, NBC Sports Washington. Sign up for NBC Sports Washington’s free email subscription today.

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