The Washington Commanders have embarked on a journey to reestablish themselves as a relevant force in the NFL. With a fervent fan base and a history rich with triumphs, the Commanders are poised to capitalize on their recent strategic moves. The 2024 NFL Draft has infused the team with fresh talent. However, there are still crucial gaps to fill. To ensure a competitive edge in the upcoming season, targeting the right free agents is paramount. Here’s a look at three free agents the Commanders must consider to bolster their roster and make a significant impact.

Reflecting on the 2023 Season

The 2023 season marked the Washington Commanders' final season with Ron Rivera as head coach. Despite a promising start with a 2-0 record, the team struggled significantly. Ultimately, they failed to match or surpass their previous 8-8-1 record. A pivotal Week 13 loss to the Miami Dolphins began their decline, leading to their seventh consecutive non-winning season. The Commanders were officially eliminated from playoff contention for the third straight year following a Week 15 defeat to the Los Angeles Rams.

The season was marred by defensive woes. They allowed a league-high 518 points and had the worst point differential at -189. Their offense also faltered, ranking as the ninth worst in the league. The team went 2-13 for the remainder of the season, including a division sweep and an eight-game losing streak to finish the year. In the aftermath, the team announced the dismissal of Rivera. They also eventually parted with Sam Howell.

Ron Rivera and Sam Howell surrounded by ominous clouds

The Commanders' 2024 NFL Draft

The 2024 NFL Draft heralded a fresh start for the Commanders. They secured a new franchise quarterback, a few impactful defenders, and an exceptional athlete for the offensive line. Sure, the selection of Jayden Daniels carries some risk due to his prospect profile. That said, he is expected to be a significant improvement over last season's quarterback, Sam Howell. The success of this draft class largely depends on Daniels emerging as a top-tier starter. However, the Commanders also added several solid players. This influx of talent should renew fans' optimism following a somewhat uncertain free agency period.

Here we'll look at the three free agent players whom the Washington Commanders must target after the 2024 NFL Draft.

Michael Thomas, WR

First on the list of must-target free agents is veteran wide receiver Michael Thomas. He is known for his precise route running and reliable hands. Thomas brings a wealth of experience and a proven track record of elite performance. With a career marked by spectacular catches and clutch plays, he would provide the Commanders with a reliable and explosive option in the passing game. The addition of Thomas would not only elevate the receiving corps. It would also take pressure off the young quarterback, allowing the offense to diversify its attack. His leadership and mentorship would be invaluable to the development of the team’s younger receivers. This would create a ripple effect that could transform the offensive unit.

Indianapolis Colts cornerback Jaylon Jones (40) closes on New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (13), Sunday., Oct 29, 2023, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Robert Scheer/IndyStar / USA TODAY NETWORK

Calais Campbell, DE

Next, the Commanders should set their sights on bolstering their defensive front by signing veteran defensive end Calais Campbell. Known for his versatility and leadership, Campbell’s ability to disrupt opposing offenses would be a game-changer for Washington’s defense. At 6’8 and over 300 pounds, his presence on the defensive line is imposing. Campbell's veteran savvy would also be invaluable to the Commanders. Pairing him with the existing talent on the defensive line would create a formidable front capable of shutting down the run and pressuring the quarterback. His experience and tenacity make him an ideal fit for the Commanders’ aggressive defensive philosophy. In addition, his off-field leadership would be a boon for the locker room.

Marcus Peters, CB

Lastly, securing the services of cornerback Marcus Peters would address the secondary’s need for a proven playmaker. Peters is renowned for his ball-hawking skills and ability to read the opposing quarterback. This would immediately strengthen the Commanders’ pass defense. His knack for creating turnovers and making pivotal plays in crucial moments is exactly what the team needs to close out tight games. Peters’ experience and football IQ would serve as a stabilizing force in the secondary. He could provide guidance to younger players and elevate the unit’s overall performance. His addition would make the Commanders’ defense one of the most formidable in the league.

Looking Ahead

Yes, the Washington Commanders have made significant strides in the 2024 NFL Draft. That said, the journey toward a championship-caliber team is far from complete. By targeting free agents Michael Thomas, Calais Campbell, and Marcus Peters, the Commanders can address critical needs and enhance their roster’s competitiveness. These strategic acquisitions would not only fill gaps. They would also provide leadership and experience that are essential to challenge for a playoff spot. The upcoming season holds great promise, and with the right moves in free agency, the Commanders could very well position themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the next season.