The Washington Commanders' offseason has been relatively quiet, but still interesting nonetheless, and there is still plenty of time to do more.
Through the first few weeks of free agency, Washington has seen a mix of key additions and losses. In terms of losses, there are the likes of Cole Holcomb, Taylor Heinicke and Wes Schweitzer. In terms of additions, the Commanders have added Andrew Wylie, Nick Gates, Jacoby Brissett, Cody Barton and more. They also accomplished their main goal of the offseason by re-signing Daron Payne.
The end result is that the Commanders are in about the same spot they have been. Considering this team has been consistently average for a while now, that's not exactly a good thing. If they want to break out from this mediocrity, the Commanders will likely have to make some bigger changes to the roster.
That might mean acquiring new players to bolster the roster, but what about the other route? What if the Commanders decide to ship off a key player or two to get some draft capital and financial flexibility? If they do decide to go that direction, then there's one player who sticks out as an easy candidate.
With that said, here is one perfect trade the Commanders should make this offseason if they go in this direction.
Commanders trade Montez Sweat to Bears for 2023 second-round pick (No. 61 overall), 2024 first-round pick
Washington's defensive line is one of the scariest in the league at full strength, and Montez Sweat is a big reason why. Sweat, the 26th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, has had a strong career to this point with 29 sacks in four seasons. In 2022, he notched eight sacks and earned an excellent 86.4 grade from PFF.
However, the strength of that defensive line could be what pushes Sweat out of Washington.
From 2017 to 2020, Washington used a first-round pick on a defensive lineman in four straight NFL Drafts. Those players have ranged from good to great, and it worked out fantastically while all were on their rookie deals. With them getting their second contracts, now, though, it may not be possible to keep this standout group together much longer.
The first domino to fall was Jonathan Allen, who signed a four-year, $72 million deal in 2021. Next was Payne, who signed a four-year, $90 million deal earlier this offseason. The Commanders are spending roughly $40 million annually on these two players, which leaves them with a choice to make: Sign Sweat or Chase Young? Their future cap situation doesn't look great, so keeping both of them seems impossible.
With this in mind, it makes sense to trade one of them to recoup some value. It may seem like Young would be the one to move given Sweat's better production so far. However, considering Young is a former second overall pick, it seems unlikely the Commanders would give up on him after only three years, even with his injury in 2021 that extended through most of 2022.
Due to this, Sweat seems to be the odd one out on Washington's defensive line.
If the Commanders were to shop Sweat, they would have plenty of teams inquiring. Of the teams that would likely come calling, the Chicago Bears would be an excellent trade partner.
Chicago has been very active this offseason—possibly the most active team in the league. The Bears entered free agency with nearly $100 million in cap space, and they've used it to bolster their roster by signing many big free agents. However, their splashiest move was trading the first overall pick to the Carolina Panthers, which netted them two firsts, two seconds and a great receiver in DJ Moore.
One area that still stands out as a weak point, though, is the defensive line. Chicago recorded a mere 20 sacks last season, the fewest in the league. Many speculated the Bears would pursue a defensive lineman in free agency, and they were even a popular landing spot for Payne before the Commanders re-signed him. They did land former Tennessee Titan DeMarcus Walker, but didn't make the major move many expected.
After the Panthers trade, the Bears now have a boat load of future draft capital. Their free agency moves have indicated they want to be competitive, so why not use some draft picks for the same purpose? If Sweat does become available, the Bears must try to get him. He fills a major area of weakness and they can afford to extend him long-term. It's a perfect fit.
As for Washington, the extra draft capital would be very welcome. The 2023 second is towards the end of the round, but could still be a useful asset. The real prize is the 2024 first, which could be either Chicago's own pick or Carolina's. If the Commanders can't re-sign Sweat long-term, then this trade would be an absolute dream.