Commanders Sign First-Round QB Jayden Daniels

The Commanders and their top draft choice have crossed off the rookie-deal step in this partnership. No. 2 overall pick Jayden Daniels agreed to terms on his four-year intro NFL pact,’s Ian Rapoport tweets.

Daniels will be tied to a fully guaranteed $37.75MM deal, one that will come with a fifth-year option for the 2028 season. This marks the third first-round slot deal for a QB for Washington, which drafted Robert Griffin III second overall in 2012 and Dwayne Haskins 15th overall in 2019.

Although some Drake Maye rumors emerged with this draft slot during the run-up to this year’s selection event, Daniels became the widely expected choice. The Commanders rebuffed Raiders interest in the pick. Only one offer is believed to have come in for the selection. Given Antonio Pierce‘s interest in reuniting with the former Arizona State recruit, it was viewed as likely Las Vegas submitted that proposal for No. 2 overall. The Commanders put that issue to rest by drafting the LSU-developed Heisman winner, and the Adam Peters-Dan Quinn regime will build around the dual-threat quarterback.

Washington did not need to give up any assets for Daniels, separating this selection from the 2012 RG3 process, as last year’s eight-game losing streak to close the season secured the No. 2 draft slot behind Chicago. Not many rumors about the Bears’ preference emerged during the pre-draft period, as Caleb Williams was the runaway favorite to begin this draft. As weeks passed, Commanders rumors slowed. Despite Maye being viewed for months as the 1-B in this class, Daniels’ dominant 2023 season allowed him to leapfrog the two-year North Carolina starter.

Transferring from Arizona State in 2022, Daniels — like multiple other QBs in this year’s first round — shined after relocating. While Michael Penix Jr. and Bo Nix became first-round picks after moving to the Pac-12, Daniels trekked east to raise his stock. Daniels posted an eye-popping stat line in his final season with the Tigers, throwing 40 touchdown passes (compared to four interceptions) and rushing for 1,134 yards and 10 more TDs. Altogether, Daniels accounted for 4,946 yards in 12 games.

After entering his final college season far from a lock to go in the first round, the slender QB will attempt to give Washington its first dependable QB answer since Kirk Cousins. The team traded Sam Howell to the Seahawks and added former No. 2 overall pick Marcus Mariota in free agency. While Mariota showed in Atlanta he remains capable as a starter, it would surprise if Daniels was not on the field in Week 1.

Daniels’ frame has generated some concerns, with various sources noting the QB weighed in the 180s and 190s during his college seasons. He checked in at 210 pounds this offseason. Bryce Young‘s rookie-year struggles, after ballooning to 204 pounds for his Combine weigh-in, showed the risks an undersized QB can bring. The Panthers, of course, are not giving up on the 2023 top pick just yet; Daniels also offers a much higher upside as a runner by comparison. The five-year college QB’s ability to protect himself this season will be paramount, however.

Griffin’s inability to stay healthy preceded a quick decline after a dazzling rookie season, and Washington could not re-sign Cousins after a lengthy franchise tag saga. Alex Smith did come back from his gruesome leg injury, but he retired soon after that surprising re-emergence. The team’s Carson Wentz effort failed, and it passed on a big-ticket pursuit — centering its offseason around Howell — last year. Following years of half-measure efforts to staff this job, Washington hired a new regime that will bet on Daniels.

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