Tyler Larsen

Commanders To Start Sam Howell In Week 17

DEC 30: Despite the Commanders seemingly moving towards Brissett as their starter at quarterback for the remainder of the season following two consecutive games in which Howell was benched, it looks like injuries will keep Howell in place under center for this weekend, at least. According to Aaron Wilson of KPRC2, Brissett will be sidelined in Week 17 with an aggravated hamstring injury. With Brissett out this week, Howell will return to the starting role. Practice squad pass Jake Fromm will be signed to the active roster in order to back up Howell against the 49ers.

Joining Fromm on the 53-man roster from the practice squad will be long snapper Tucker Addington and offensive tackle Alex Akingbulu. They will also be joined by safety Sean Chandler and cornerback Nick Whiteside, who will serve as standard gameday practice squad elevations tomorrow. Fromm, Addington, and Akingbulu will be filling the roster spots left vacant by offensive tackle Charles Leno, safety Percy Butler, and center Tyler Larsen, who were all placed on injured reserve today.

DEC 27: After an aggressive quarterback pursuit in 2022, the Commanders stood down this year and centered their offseason around Sam Howell‘s development. Howell has started throughout the season; that is about to change.

Washington has benched the second-year QB in back-to-back games, and after Jacoby Brissett provided a spark in each, Ron Rivera said the veteran will receive his first start of the season in Week 17. Brissett, who signed a one-year deal this offseason, has already started for four teams throughout his career. This will be Brissett’s 49th career start.

This decision can be interpreted in multiple ways. On one hand, Rivera is almost definitely coaching his final games with the Commanders. He has long been viewed as on his way out after his fourth season. Front office changes are also expected, so this staff’s view of Howell may not matter much. But the team has also been linked to pursuing another starter-caliber QB in 2024 to at least push Howell. The Patriots’ upset of the Broncos in Week 16 moved the 4-11 Commanders into the No. 3 draft slot, and with the Cardinals not certain to select a QB at No. 2 — where they currently reside — Washington could be in position to make a major investment in Josh Harris‘ first offseason running the show.

Brissett, 31, has started for the Patriots, Colts, Dolphins and Browns throughout an interesting eight-year career. He has been one of this era’s premier backups, being thrust into duty twice on short notice and again later due to Deshaun Watson‘s suspension. The Colts turned to Brissett soon after acquiring him via trade in 2017, with Andrew Luck‘s troublesome shoulder injury requiring a full-season absence. A better Brissett version resurfaced in 2019, when Luck abruptly retired. The Colts then gave their regularly used backup a two-year, $30MM extension. Brissett could not command those terms in 2021 (with the Dolphins) or ’22 (Browns), but he made 16 starts in that span.

The Commanders gave Brissett a one-year, $8MM deal in March. While the team held a competition for the starting job, the Howell praise that persisted during the offseason pointed to the second-year passer winning that battle. Howell has shown flashes, but after struggling during a Commanders six-game skid, the North Carolina product has encountered some early turbulence. Despite two games remaining, Howell has joined only Watson (2018) as QBs to be sacked at least 60 times in a season over the past 17 years. The North Carolina alum has been dropped 60 times this season. Howell also leads the NFL with 17 INTs.

This Brissett move likely ensures Howell will not move close to David Carr‘s single-season record for sacks taken (72 in 2002), but it also points him toward an uncertain path after making all 15 starts for the Commanders this season. The team initially turned to Howell in Week 18 of last season, with the rookie leapfrogging Carson Wentz and Taylor Heinicke on the depth chart. A new HC-GM combo will be poised to assess Howell in 2024.

Commanders Place DT Phidarian Mathis, DE Efe Obada On IR

Phidarian Mathis will end up missing 20 of his first 21 NFL games. After going down in Week 1 of last season, the former second-round pick is back on IR. Washington also moved fellow defensive lineman Efe Obada to IR.

The third defensive tackle out of Alabama on Washington’s active roster, Mathis missed all of his rookie season due to a knee injury that required surgery. That is not behind this injury designation. Mathis returned to the field during the Commanders’ preseason slate but sustained a calf injury.

This designation will sideline Mathis and Obada for the season’s first four games. In 2022, the NFL reintroduced a limit on how many players could return from injured reserve in a season. After teams could bring an unlimited number of players off IR during the 2020 and ’21 seasons, they are now capped at eight such activations. Mathis and Obada are now part of that roster math for the NFC East franchise.

Washington’s Mathis pick — at No. 47 overall — pointed to Daron Payne moving on in 2023. But Mathis went down in Week 1 of last season, playing only three defensive snaps before the knee injury. Mathis came into his rookie year behind fellow Alabama D-tackle alums Payne and Jonathan Allen, and Payne used his contract year to score a monster payday — four years, $90MM — after receiving the franchise tag. The Commanders now have all three ex-Crimson Tide interior D-linemen signed for at least three more seasons. But Mathis’ career remains on pause.

Obada, 31, is dealing with a patella tendon injury, Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post tweets. He re-signed with the Commanders on a one-year, $2MM deal this offseason. The former Panthers and Bills edge defender is positioned to play behind the other two ex-first-rounders on a loaded Commanders D-line — Montez Sweat and Chase Young — but his season will start late as well. Obada caught on with Washington last year and registered four sacks. He joins Shaka Toney, whom the NFL handed a full-season gambling suspension, as auxiliary pass rushers out of the mix in Washington to start this season.

These transactions will allow for the re-signings of interior O-lineman Tyler Larsen and defensive tackle Abdullah Anderson. Both players were bumped off Washington’s roster when the team cut down to 53 on Tuesday. Larsen, who has made 11 starts for Washington over the past two years, had re-signed earlier this offseason. As a vested veteran, he passed through waivers and waited for the team to sort through some roster gymnastics. With Mathis and Obada off the roster, Washington will bring back the recently cut veterans.

Commanders Set 53-Man Roster

The Commanders have been busy reducing their roster, with the organization cutting 12 players yesterday. The team finished off their transactions today, reducing their roster to 53 players:



Placed on IR:

Despite tossing a pair of touchdowns in the preseason finale, Jake Fromm earned his walking papers from the Commanders. The quarterback was already facing an uphill battle to make the roster with Sam Howell and Jacoby Brissett ahead of him on the depth chart, and he’ll certainly be a popular target if he makes it through waivers. The former fifth-round pick started a pair of games for the Giants in 2021.

Commanders To Release C Tyler Larsen

A regular with the Commanders for the past two seasons, Tyler Larsen will only be able to continue his time with the team via the practice squad. The veteran center is being released, reports Ben Standig of The Athletic.

Standig notes that Larsen is a candidate to be brought back, and his missed game time due to injuries should limit the interest shown by other teams. The 32-year-old has been held to 18 appearances across his two seasons in Washington, but he has made 11 starts in that span. Even a temporary absence would thus be felt along the Commanders’ new-look offensive line.

The center position was brought into doubt with Chase Roullier dealing with multiple injuries over recent years. He was released as a result, and has since retired. His absence left a notable vacancy for a starting position up front, something Larsen filled to close out the 2022 campaign. Washington used both free agency and the draft to acquire new options in the middle, however.

Nick Gates is in line to serve as a first-teamer after signing a three-year, $16.5MM deal in March. The ex-Giant has experience at guard, but he served as New York’s starter at center in the 2020 season, one where he logged a 100% snap share. The Commanders added competition for Gates in the form of third-rounder Ricky Stromberg. With Larsen out of the picture (at least for now), that pair will work at the pivot to start the season.

Larsen was set to play on the veteran’s minimum this season, making his contract an easy one to move on from for Washington. The Commanders will save $940K via his release, while incurring just $153K in dead money. The two parties may not have to wait long to reunite, as players cut on Tuesday are eligible to be brought back as early as Wednesday.

Latest On Commanders’ OL Situation

The Commanders’ 2022 offensive line was one of the league’s most beleaguered position groups last year. The team dealt with multiple injuries throughout the season, handicapping a group that already was lacking in star talent. A good amount of turnover is expected from last year’s lineup, but is it nearly enough to not be a hindrance to quarterback Sam Howell‘s first season as a Day 1 starter?

In terms of turnover, Trai Turner, who started 12 games at guard last season, has departed as a free agent. Wes Schweitzer, who started six games at guard, is now on the Jets. Nick Martin and Chase Roullier have also made their way to free agency, and Andrew Norwell is soon set to join them. It was announced a little over a month ago that the team was waiting to release Norwell until he could pass a physical, but he’s still currently on the roster today.

In terms of new blood, the Commanders signed former Chiefs tackle Andrew Wylie, who followed new offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy from Kansas City. The team also added former Giants interior lineman Nick Gates with the intent to play him at center. Washington did re-sign Tyler Larsen, who started eight games at center for the team last year. The loser of the starting battle between Gates and Larsen will become an experienced depth piece on the interior line. Additionally, the team used both a third- and a fourth-round draft pick to address the offensive line, bringing in rookie center Ricky Stromberg from Arkansas and rookie tackle Braeden Daniels from Utah. While both could project as long-term starters for the future, neither rookie seems to be a contender to make an impact this season.

With the offseason moves, we’re starting to see the line take shape. Left tackle Charles Leno is the only sure thing on the line. He’s a definitive starter and should produce at a consistent level. The Commanders spent too much money on Wylie for him not to start. It’s been a couple years since his best performances (he allowed nine sacks last year), but his starting experience for a Super Bowl-winning team is likely enough to cement him at right tackle.

Gates likewise is being paid at a starters’ rate, so he’s the odds-on favorite to take the starting job at center. In that case, it ends up being a smart move to have retained Larsen, since over the past two years, Gates has only appeared in 12 games. If Gates continues to struggle to stay on the field, Washington knows Larsen can step up. With the addition of Stromberg in the draft, the Commanders are certainly attempting to feel secure after a season that decimated their centers room.

Samuel Cosmi is an interesting piece in the line. He was drafted out of Texas in the second round two years ago as a top tackle prospect, and while he’s gotten some run there in Washington, he’s also filled in a bit at guard. With Wylie and Leno likely securing starting roles on the outside, Cosmi can either become a strong depth piece at tackle or continue working as a starter at guard.

The other guard spot seems fairly open. Saahdiq Charles is currently one of the top candidates for the starting role. In three years with the team, Charles has started eight games, but he’s not really expected to excel as a starting guard. His main competition for the position seems to be last year’s seventh-round pick Chris Paul. Paul only made his NFL debut when he started the season finale for the Commanders last year, but Rivera has heaped praise on the progress and abilities of the young man. If he continues to impress, he could push Charles for the starting spot opposite Cosmi.

So, did the Commanders piece together a line that their second-year passer can be confident behind? It’s almost certainly too soon to tell. There’s an argument to be made that they were able to increase the talent of their two-deep, but the biggest thing they could improve on to better their chances of success this year is just health.

Commanders Re-Sign OL Tyler Larsen

Tyler Larsen is returning to Washington. The offensive lineman is re-signing with the Commanders, according to ESPN’s John Keim (on Twitter).

The former undrafted free agent had a five-year stint with the Panthers before joining Washington in 2021. Intended to be a reserve offensive lineman, Larsen has found himself in and out of the starting lineup over the past two years, starting 11 of his 18 appearances.

Larsen’s deal includes just $150K guaranteed, JP Finlay of NBC Sports Washington tweets. Overall, the veteran interior offensive lineman will be attached to a one-year, $1.3MM accord.

After starting the 2022 season on PUP, Larsen quickly found himself starting at center in place of Nick Martin. Larsen would proceed to start eight of his nine appearances before suffering a dislocated kneecap in Week 13, ending his season prematurely. Pro Football Focus wasn’t particularly fond of his performance last season, ranking him 29th among 36 qualifying centers.

Larsen’s role will likely be in flux heading into training camp. However, his versatility provides him with a definitive role on the Commanders…it just remains to be seen what that role will end up being.

Commanders Activate Carson Wentz From IR

Nearing the end of his activation window, Carson Wentz has officially been brought back into the fold. The Commanders announced on Monday that the veteran quarterback has been activated from IR.

Washington had until Wednesday to do so, or else Wentz would have been ineligible to return this season. The news comes as little surprise given the timing of the Commanders’ decision to designate him for return, but will do little with respect to the team’s pecking order under center. Wentz will dress as the backup to Taylor Heinicke on Sunday against the Giants.

That falls in line with what head coach Ron Rivera indicated while Wentz was on IR due to a fractured finger. Heinicke has started each game for the Commanders since Week 7, a stretch in which the team has gone 5-1-1. The former UDFA has played at a similar level to last season, when he started 15 contests and drove Washington’s pursuit of an upgrade at the position during the offseason.

That resulted in Wentz being traded for the second consecutive year, and renewed optimism from some that another change of scenery could allow him to resurrect his career. Instead, the 29-year-old put up largely underwhelming numbers in his six starts before suffering the injury. The former No. 2 overall pick has two years remaining on his contract, which the Commanders acquired in full as a result of their swap with the Colts. That deal will, in all likelihood, see Indianapolis receive a third-round pick in 2023 – rather than a second-rounder – given the time Wentz has missed with respect to the snap condition attached to the selection.

In a corresponding move, the Commanders have placed center Tyler Larsen on IR. During the team’s first game against the Giants, he was carted off the field with a dislocated kneecap. That led to an expectation of a prolonged, if not season-ending, absence, so an IR stint is not surprising. Larsen will miss at least the next four weeks now, as the Commanders will search for another Chase Roullier replacement in the middle of their offensive line.

Commanders C Tyler Larsen Facing Extended Absence

Stemming from a December 2021 injury, Tyler Larsen began this season on Washington’s reserve/PUP list. Larsen may end his season on a Commanders injured list as well.

Larsen left the Commanders’ Week 13 tie against the Giants via cart, and The Athletic’s Ben Standig tweets the veteran blocker suffered a dislocated kneecap. This injury will sideline Larsen indefinitely and could well shut him down for a second straight year. This will sideline a second Commanders center this season; the team lost Chase Roullier to a fractured fibula early this season.

Washington re-signed Larsen this offseason, bringing him back on a league-minimum deal, and turned to the former UDFA as a starter shortly after activating him from the reserve/PUP list. A five-year Panthers lineman who reunited with Ron Rivera via Washington free agency accord in 2021, Larsen started three games last season and suffered an Achilles tear in Week 16. But the team held a bigger role for the 31-year-old snapper this season; he started eight games before going down with his latest injury.

Larsen replaced Wes Schweitzer in the lineup earlier this season, with Schweitzer — a converted guard — working as the Commanders’ center in Week 3. Despite Schweitzer being activated from IR ahead of Week 13, Nick Martin replaced Larsen in Washington’s lineup. Formerly the Texans’ long-term starter, Martin has made two starts with the Commanders. Ditto Schweitzer, though he worked as a first-stringer often during his previous two years with the franchise.

Rivera did not confirm Martin or Schweitzer as his starting center for Week 15, but both figure to be in play for the gig. The player the team does not choose will represent quality depth. Martin, 29, has made 64 career starts. Schweitzer, 29, has 56 on his resume. The Commanders boast considerable experience up front, with ninth-year linemen in Charles Leno, Andrew Norwell, Trai Turner and Cornelius Lucas in place as starters. Turner missed Week 13 due to ankle and knee issues.

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/8/22

Here are the roster moves for today, leading into gameday tomorrow. Reminder that gameday elevations will revert to the practice squad after this weekend’s games:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Washington Commanders

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/5/22

Today’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Detroit Lions

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

Philadelphia Eagles

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

Washington Commanders

A number of players who were placed on IR after the preseason and prior to the regular season returned to practice today. These players will have a three-week practice window until they have to be activated to the active roster. Otherwise, they’ll be ineligible to return this season.

One of the most surprising returns is Cardinals cornerback Antonio Hamilton. The former undrafted free agent rode a strong preseason to a potential starting gig, but he was sidelined with second-degree burns after spilling hot oil on his legs and feet. Kliff Kingsbury previously said an early-October return may be a “little aggressive” (per ESPN’s Josh Weinfuss on Twitter), but the cornerback ended up working his way back to practice.