Benjamin St-Juste

Commanders Decline LB Jamin Davis’ Fifth-Year Option

None of the teams to select a linebacker in the 2020 first round opted to exercise a fifth-year option; each member of that quartet joined another team in free agency last month. The Commanders are moving down a similar path with the ILB they chose in the 2021 first round.

Washington is declining Jamin Davis‘ fifth-year option, according to the Washington Post’s Nicki Jhabvala. Chosen 19th overall in 2021, Davis carried a $14.48MM option for the 2025 season. With Davis not yet living up to his draft slot — and seeing how teams proceeded with 2020 Round 1 ILBs last year — it is unsurprising to see the Commanders punt on that fully guaranteed number.

[RELATED: 2025 NFL Fifth-Year Option Tracker]

None of the 2020 ILB class carried a Pro Bowl honor from 2020-22; that placed their option prices between $11.73MM and $12.72MM. This proved too much for the Cardinals (Isaiah Simmons), Chargers (Kenneth Murray), Ravens (Patrick Queen) and Seahawks (Jordyn Brooks). Each player moved on in free agency in March. With a new regime in place in Washington, Davis’ arrow is pointing in that direction ahead of what is now a contract year.

The Commanders signed Bobby Wagner and Frankie Luvu in March; the Wagner agreement, like several Washington pacts this offseason, brought a reunion with new HC Dan Quinn. Washington also signed Jeremy Chinn, a hybrid player who spent extensive time as a box defender with Carolina. These transactions leave Davis’ role uncertain, as the Kentucky product has not become a difference-maker since the Ron Rivera-led regime selected him 19th overall three years ago.

After struggling as a rookie, Davis received criticism from then-DC Jack Del Rio early in the ’22 season. He did play better on the whole over the past two years, and Pro Football Focus slotted the 25-year-old defender inside the top 40 at the position last year. Davis has totaled 17 tackles for loss and six sacks over the past two years combined. He also forced two fumbles and broke up four passes last season, before going down with a season-ending shoulder injury in December.

Davis underwent knee surgery last year as well, and the one-year SEC starter has run into trouble off the field. He was hit with a reckless driving charge in March 2022. While Davis appealed his conviction and avoided a 180-day sentence, Jhabvala adds he also drew a reckless driving charge (later reduced) three months before that. Additionally, Davis joins cornerback Benjamin St-Juste and former safety Deshazor Everett as defendants in a wrongful-death lawsuit stemming from the crash that killed Everett’s girlfriend. Washington cut the safety in March 2022, but the civil suit — brought on by the victim’s mother — alleges Davis, St-Juste and Everett were racing when Everett’s vehicle crashed.

Latest On Patriots’ First-Round Trade Talks: Commanders, CBs, Jones, Jets, Steelers

The Patriots’ decision to trade their first-round pick (No. 14 overall) to the Steelers produced some fallout, with the Jets believed to have been targeting Broderick Jones at No. 15. The Commanders factor into this interesting decision as well, having also discussed a trade-up with the Pats.

Washington GM Martin Mayhew spoke with Patriots scouting director Eliot Wolf during the run-up to New England’s No. 14 selection. The terms discussed (via a video showing Commanders draft-night proceedings; h/t’s Mark Daniels) point to Washington not wanting to give up its third-round pick (No. 97) in a deal to climb two spots.

Mayhew indicated the team might be willing to send its fourth-rounder (No. 118) to the Patriots for No. 14, and a second phone conversation revealed the Pats were willing to throw in a sixth-rounder to acquire the Commanders’ third. But after the Packers chose Lukas Van Ness at No. 13, the Commanders stood down. Ron Rivera and Commanders exec Marty Hurney referenced the likelihood of either Emmanuel Forbes or Christian Gonzalez remaining on the board at No. 16 as a reason not to complete a trade with the Pats. As it turned out, both Forbes and Gonzalez were available.

Forbes, who returned six interceptions for touchdowns during a prolific career at Mississippi State, did not end up being docked for his size (6-foot, 166). Despite ESPN’s Scouts Inc. slotting Gonzalez as this draft’s eighth-best prospect and ranking Forbes 21st, Washington preferred the smaller player to the Oregon prospect. The Pats chose Gonzalez at No. 17.

The Commanders’ decision not to complete a trade to ensure they ended up with Forbes led to the Patriots sending their pick to the Steelers, who took Jones. The Pats ended up with a fourth-round pick (No. 120) two spots below the one they may well have been able to obtain from the Commanders, but the much-rumored bonus of denying the Jets a first-round tackle likely sweetened the deal for Bill Belichick and Co.

I’m not going to delve into the relationship between New England and the Jets; let’s just say I’m glad we found a partner,” Mike Tomlin said during a Rich Eisen Show appearance (video link). “I’ll put it this way: there wasn’t a lot of hesitation on New England’s end.”

Both Tomlin and GM Omar Khan confirmed the view inside the Steelers’ war room pointed to a Jets plan to take Jones. While the Jets have denied indicated they were comfortable with Will McDonald at No. 13 — their draft slot before the Aaron Rodgers trade — or 15, the belief around the league was a Jets preference for Jones. The Steelers are expected to give Jones a shot to unseat two-year left tackle incumbent Dan Moore.

We were speculating there. We knew with the acquisition of Aaron Rodgers and so forth, [the Jets] might be fishing in those waters,” Tomlin said. “And so we did what we thought we needed to do to get the player and the position that we coveted. … There was a run on the position, starting with, I think [Bears selection] Darnell Wright at about 10 where they were coming off pretty clean. We just had that as a position of priority and we had Broderick as an individual of priority.”

The Commanders chose corners in Rounds 1 and 2, selecting Illinois’ Jartavius Martin at No. 47. The team moved on from a William Jackson miscalculation last season and will expect Forbes and Martin to make significant impacts alongside Kendall Fuller and Benjamin St-Juste. Despite Fuller’s past as a slot corner, the Commanders are planning to leave him on the outside in their zone-based system, John Keim of tweets. Ron Rivera said OTAs have featured Forbes and St-Juste being used both inside and outside. Rivera noted the team liked what St-Juste, a 2021 third-rounder, brought as a slot defender last season.

As for the Patriots, Gonzalez marks the first pure corner Belichick has chosen in Round 1 since he took the reins in 2000. The team expected the Commanders to choose Forbes, leaving them Gonzalez, whom the Pats — despite their three-spot trade-down maneuver — universally held in high regard.

Teams have to wait a little bit here in the first round before they get their picks in. We didn’t know, but we had a pretty good feeling as to how Washington was going to play it out,” Pats player personnel director Mike Groh said (via Daniels). “So that sped things along for us. Again, it’s nice when you’ve got a consensus on a player. So from the coaching staff, to the scouts, we’re fairly unified grade wise on Christian. That just sped the process along.”

Commanders Place CB Benjamin St-Juste, OL Saahdiq Charles On IR

Washington made some quick adjustments to its active roster just prior to its season finale against Dallas this weekend, placing cornerback Benjamin St-Juste and offensive lineman Saahdiq Charles on injured reserve, according to Aaron Wilson of KPRC 2. To fill their spots on the 53-man roster, the Commanders signed practice squad tackle Alex Akingbulu and practice squad defensive end Benning Potoa’e to the active roster.

The biggest name here is obviously St-Juste, who has become a full-time starter in the slot during his sophomore season with the Commanders. As a rookie third-round pick last year, St-Juste was able to earn some serious playing time, starting three of nine appearances, but concussion issues led to an early end to his rookie year on IR. This season, St-Juste moved from outside corner to play more of a nickel role in the slot. St-Juste started every game of the season alongside cornerbacks Kendall Fuller and Bobby McCain before beginning to deal with an ankle injury in a Week 11 win over the Texans. St-Juste has missed four of the five games since then and will now end his second season in a row on IR. In his absence, the Commanders have utilized rookie seventh-round pick Christian Holmes and veteran Danny Johnson in the slot.

Since being drafted in the fourth-round in 2020, Charles has been a dependable backup lineman for the Commanders, filling in as a starter for at least one game each season. Charles started three games earlier this season after coming in for injured right guard Trai Turner in a Week 4 loss to the Cowboys. Charles has been inactive since the team’s Week 14 bye while dealing with a concussion. Placing him on IR ensures he will be inactive for his fourth straight game to end the season.

Akingbulu is an undrafted rookie out of Fresno State. The first-team All-Mountain West offensive tackle from last year will provide some depth to the offensive line after the loss of Charles to IR. Potoa’e went undrafted out of the University of Washington in 2020, initially signing with the Buccaneers. After two seasons on Tampa Bay’s practice squad, Potoa’e was released in final roster cuts this preseason and decided to sign to the Commanders’ practice squad this season. Potoa’e is looking for his second in-game appearance this season, while an appearance by Akingbulu would mark his NFL debut.

NFC DB Notes: Giants, Saints, Commanders

Jarren Williams has already been a member of two NFL teams and spent plenty of time on and off of practice squads during his brief career. He will be facing a new challenge in 2022, but it could help him land a 53-man roster spot in the fall.

The Giants are converting the former UDFA from cornerback to safety, as detailed by Paul Schwartz of the New York Post. Williams had been a corner throughout his college and professional tenure, but this new position will give him a better opportunity to avoid reverting back to the practice squad. New York is set at the top of the safety depth chart with Xavier McKinney and Julian Love, but lacking in experienced backups behind them. Williams could slot in as a special teamer and rotational defender (to a greater degree than he did in his eight appearances at CB) if all goes well.

“It’s a great opportunity” the 24-year-old said. “I’m really excited, gonna keep learning the position, take the teaching, take the coaching and I think it’s gonna be good for me.”

Here a some other secondary-related notes from the NFC:

  • The Saints have a number of new faces on the backend of their defense, such as Tyrann Mathieu and Marcus Maye, but another potential difference-maker could be a player who was already on the roster when the offseason began. In a breakdown of players who stood out in the spring, ESPN’s Mike Triplett names Bryce Thompson as a candidate for a significant role in 2022. The former UDFA saw limited time on special teams as a rookie last year, but has been taking snaps with both the first- and second-team units this offseason. His positional versatility, Triplett contends, could land Thompson a notable role somewhere within the secondary.
  • In that same piece, John Keim notes that the Commanders are using 2021 third round corner Benjamin St-Juste in the slot in practices. That’s a notable decision, given his size at six-foot-three, but the Canadian has “looked good” so far when lining up against receivers in that position, including 2022 first-rounder Jahan Dotson. St-Juste had a troubling issue with concussions in particular as a rookie, limiting him to nine games. With better health in his second campaign, he could be in line for a step forward in his new role.

WFT To Place CB Benjamin St-Juste On IR

Washington rookie Benjamin St-Juste has run into a somewhat concerning situation during the second half of his rookie season. Ron Rivera said the third-round pick is back in Washington’s concussion protocol, marking the third time he has landed there this year.

St-Juste will be placed on IR, per Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post (on Twitter). This will sideline the Big Ten product until at least Week 16. St-Juste also missed Week 4 due to a concussion. Washington will give the rookie more time off, cutting into its cornerback depth.

A Montreal native who played at Michigan and Minnesota, St-Juste went off the board to Washington with the No. 74 overall pick. The 6-foot-3 cornerback has seen full-time duty in a few games this year, starting from Weeks 6-8. Pro Football Focus has not been bullish on St-Juste’s performance, ranking him among the bottom 10 corners this season. Washington had used him in a special teams role over the past three weeks.

St-Juste has still played 55% of Washington’s defensive snaps this season. Though St-Juste did not start to open the season, Washington worked him in frequently before using him as a starter in Week 6. Former UDFA Danny Johnson has seen increased run alongside Kendall Fuller and William Jackson in recent weeks, however.

NFL Draft Pick Signings: 5/13/21

Today’s late round signings:

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

  • DT Alim McNeill (third round; North Carolina State)

Green Bay Packers

Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Chargers

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

San Francisco 49ers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Washington Football Team