The Commanders are signing tight end Kaden Smith, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter). Smith signed with the Colts in May but was waived earlier this month.
As ESPN’s John Keim tweets, Washington’s TE1, Logan Thomas, is currently nursing a calf injury. As such, Smith will at least give the club an extra body at the position for the time being, and given his past experience with the divison-rival Giants, he may have a legitimate shot to stick on the roster.
A sixth-round pick of the 49ers in 2019, Smith was waived by San Francisco one week into his rookie season and was claimed by the Giants. From 2019-21, the Stanford product was a regular presence in New York’s offensive lineup, appearing in 33 games (22 starts) as the blocking complement to receiving tight end Evan Engram. Smith also showed some receiving abilities of his own, catching 31 balls for 268 yards and three TDs during Engram’s injury-related absence in the second half of the 2019 campaign.
Unfortunately, a knee injury suffered in November 2021 derailed Smith’s career, and there was concern that he would not be able to play again. After missing all of 2022, the 26-year-old is healthy enough, though he could not carve out a spot in a crowded TE room in Indianapolis. He will hope for better luck with the Commanders, who are rostering two recent mid-round draft choices in John Bates and Cole Turner in addition to Thomas.
Like Smith, Bates is known more for his blocking prowess. While Bates did flash some promise as a pass catcher in his rookie season in 2021 (20 receptions for 249 yards and a score), Turner, a 2022 fifth-rounder, is the more exciting receiving prospect. Thomas, meanwhile, played in just six games in 2021 due to injury and was unable to recapture his pre-injury form last year, so the fact that he is now battling a calf ailment is certainly cause for concern.
In the TE-friendly scheme of new offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, there is perhaps room for all four of Thomas, Bates, Turner, and Smith, especially in light of Thomas’ health concerns and the fact that Bates and Turner are largely unproven commodities.
The Commanders cut punter Colby Wadman in a corresponding transaction, as Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post tweets.