Commanders Rumors

Commanders DT Johnny Newton Undergoes Foot Surgery

MAY 14: Shedding some light on Newton’s latest foot injury, Bleacher Report’s Jordan Schultz confirms it is a Jones fracture. Newton underwent his second 2024 foot surgery Monday. Given the timetable associated with this injury, it will be months before the No. 36 overall pick is ready to suit up again for the Commanders. The team is, however, optimistic Newton will be ready for Week 1.

MAY 12: A foot surgery helped lead to Johnny Newton sliding out of the first round following a first-team All-American season. Another such procedure will be necessary, stalling the second-round defensive tackle’s development with his NFL team.

After undergoing a procedure to repair an injury to his right foot in January, the Commanders defensive tackle will need another foot procedure done — this time to address an issue with his left foot. Dan Quinn confirmed (via ESPN.com’s John Keim) the No. 36 overall pick will be sidelined for the foreseeable future. The latest Newton foot surgery is expected to occur this week.

Newton sustained a partial foot fracture that led to the January procedure; this operation caused a weekslong delay in Newton’s pre-draft preparation. He did not participate in Combine workouts but did recover in time to hold a belated pro day in mid-April. That timeline provides a positive sign the Commanders will have the first of their three second-round draftees available by Week 1, though it is not certain exactly what injury Newton sustained to his other foot.

This draft’s third defensive tackle chosen, Newton did not participate in Washington’s rookie minicamp. The high-level prospect said upon being drafted he was fully healed, making his absence from the Commanders’ weekend workouts interesting. A recent checkup revealed the new issue, and it will produce another run of rehab work. Newton played through the partial fracture during the second half of his final Illinois season, but the Commanders will attempt to have him at 100% by the time be debuts as a pro.

Despite rostering Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne — along with 2022 second-round D-tackle Phidarian Mathis — Washington chose Newton with its second draft choice this year. He produced a career-high 7.5 sacks last season, collecting Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year acclaim — the first Illinois player to do so in 29 years — and first-team All-American honors. While Newton undergoing surgery now will help his chances of debuting on time for the Commanders, a rookie undergoing procedures on both feet in the months before his NFL debut is a bit of a concern.

NFL Workouts: Giants, Bears, Titans, Grant

With NFL rookie minicamps coming to a close, we can take a look at some of the notable names that were invited for veteran tryouts during the rookies’ introduction to the NFL. The Giants were one of the teams with multiple veteran free agents in attendance, as noted by Pat Leonard of NY Daily News.

Two outside linebackers were auditioned this week in New York. Myjai Sanders worked out with the team after playing sparingly in seven games for the Texans last year. A former third-round pick for the Cardinals, Sanders had three sacks as a rookie but, after falling down the depth chart, found himself being auctioned off as a trade candidate before ultimately getting waived.

The other was Shaka Toney, a former seventh-round pick for the Commanders who was waived just before the draft. He’s only played major snaps in one game over his two years, his lone start out of 26 games played, but totes 1.5 sacks on his record.

The third veteran in attendance was wide receiver Jared Bernhardt.

Here are a few other notable minicamp auditions that took place around the league:

  • The Bears also hosted three veterans, even eventually signing tight end Tommy Sweeney. Kevin Fishbain of The Athletic reports that cornerback Parry Nickerson and wide receiver Freddie Swain were the other two veterans in attendance this week. Nickerson entered the league as a sixth-round draft pick in 2018 for the Jets. Since then, he’s bounced around with one season each at in Jacksonville, Green Bay, Minnesota, and, most recently, Miami. Swain had a decent start to his career after two seasons in Seattle but didn’t play in 2023 after appearing in only four games in 2022 between time in Miami and Denver.
  • The Titans were another team to host multiple notable veteran names, namely cornerback William Jackson III and pass rusher Shane Ray, per Aaron Wilson of KPRC 2 and Turron Davenport of ESPN. After playing out a rookie contract in Cincinnati, Jackson earned a three-year, $40.5MM contract with the Commanders but requested a trade that landed him with the Steelers a year in a half into the deal, though he never got to play for them. He hasn’t appeared in a game since Week 5 of 2022. Ray’s absence from the NFL has been even longer. A first-round pick for the Broncos in 2015, Ray hasn’t played in the league since 2018. He joined the Bills last offseason, reuniting with his former Denver teammate Von Miller, but he was cut before the regular season.
  • After attending the Eagles’ rookie minicamp, wide receiver and return specialist Jakeem Grant also worked out for the Saints at their rookie minicamp, per Mike Triplett of NewOrleans.Football. Grant hasn’t appeared in an NFL game since the 2021 season as he’s rehabilitated a torn Achilles and a ruptured patella tendon, but the last time he played, he earned Pro Bowl and second-team All-Pro honors.
  • Lastly, the Dolphins hosted pass rusher Aaron Lynch for a tryout, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Lynch showed promise after tallying 12.5 sacks in his first two seasons with the 49ers but never managed more than three in a season over the next five years. He hasn’t appeared in an NFL game since 2020.

NFL Draft Pick Signings: 5/10/24

Yesterday’s rush of rookie signings continued today. Here are Friday’s draft pick signings:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Detroit Lions

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Minnesota Vikings

  • K Will Reichard (sixth round, Alabama)
  • C Michael Jurgens (seventh round, Wake Forest)
  • DT Levi Drake Rodriguez (seventh round, Texas A&M-Commerce)

New England Patriots

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • G Mason McCormick (fourth round, South Dakota State)
  • DT Logan Lee (sixth round, Iowa)

San Francisco 49ers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Washington Commanders

Commanders Notes: Kingsbury, Stokes, Staff, Newton, Allen, Sainristil

The Commanders did not end up zagging with their No. 2 overall pick. The team received only one offer — likely from the Raiders — for the selection, and the team went with Heisman winner Jayden Daniels. In reaching a conclusion Daniels was the top player at No. 2, Adam Peters kept his circle small. Only Josh Harris, Dan Quinn and advisor/ex-Golden State Warriors GM Bob Myers comprised the new Washington football ops boss’ inner circle, per Fox Sports’ Ralph Vacchiano, who adds OC Kliff Kingsbury was brought in along the way and at least knew which way the new team braintrust was leaning.

Kingsbury, who coached Caleb Williams last year, was believed to be high on Daniels coming in. Many in the organization — including members of Harris’ ownership group — were not informed which player the team was picking until draft day, Vacchiano adds. Much of the front office and scouting department did not learn definitively it would be Daniels until the Bears went on the clock. While Harris was believed to be more involved than expected, the franchise had dealt with considerable Dan Snyder meddling in past drafts. Given the turmoil associated with Washington ownership and front office for much of the past two decades, this buttoned-up approach marked a change of pace.

Here is the latest out of Washington:

  • Retooling teams often make changes after the draft, as continuity in scouting departments is preferred due to the work done on draft classes in the months prior. The Commanders will make a key change. They are not renewing the contract of senior director of player personnel Eric Stokes, InsidetheLeague.com’s Neil Stratton tweets. Stokes joined the Commanders in 2020, following Ron Rivera‘s arrival, and moved to his most recent title in 2021. The veteran exec should land elsewhere soon, with Stratton adding he his a name to watch in scouting circles. This exit comes after Peters retained Rivera-era bastions Martin Mayhew, who worked with the current Commanders FO boss in San Francisco, and Marty Hurney.
  • Peters said earlier this offseason the team is not planning to trade Jonathan Allen, but ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler notes some around the league are wondering if the selection of Jer’Zhan Newton will prompt the team to listen on the veteran defensive tackle. Washington, which disbanded its DE contingent at the trade deadline, still has two high-priced DTs — in Allen and Daron Payne — and has used second-round picks on the position in 2022 and ’24. Phidarian Mathis played 203 defensive snaps last season but has yet to make much of an impact; Newton now joins him and does so as a Peters-Quinn-era draftee. Allen, who said last year he was not eager to be part of a rebuild, has come up in trade rumors before and is due base salaries of $14MM and $15.5MM over the next two years.
  • One of the three second-rounders the Commanders chose, Mike Sainristil is expected to begin his NFL run in the slot. Washington is planning to train the Michigan product as an inside cornerback, ESPN.com’s John Keim notes. He will accompany Benjamin St-Juste, 2023 first-rounder Emmanuel Forbes and UFA addition Michael Davis at the position. The Commanders, who lost Kendall Fuller and Kamren Curl from their secondary, will attempt to climb back from a last-place defensive finish.
  • The team will hire a longtime league office exec to be part of its staff. Dave Gardi will come over after 10 years as NFL VP of football operations to take on the title of Commanders senior VP of football initiatives. In-game management and assisting the coaching staff in terms of compliance with NFL protocols will be among Gardi’s duties in Washington, with the Washington Post’s Nicki Jhabvala offering that Gardi will be on headsets during games and concentrate on the coaching side during the season. That will certainly be a shift for a longtime league office staffer.

Minor NFL Transactions: 5/7/24

Here are Tuesday’s minor moves:

Atlanta Falcons

  • Waived (non-football injury): OL Ryan Swoboda

Green Bay Packers

  • Reverted to IR: WR Thyrick Pitts

Kansas City Chiefs

Minnesota Vikings

Tennessee Titans

  • Waived: DL Shakel Brown

Washington Commanders

  • Waived: LB Brandon Bouyer-Randle, CB D’Angelo Mandell, DE Joshua Pryor

2024 NFL General Manager Search Tracker

With the Commanders making a hire, four teams remain in search of general managers. This includes the Patriots, who have moved on from HC/de facto GM Bill Belichick. If other teams decide to make GM changes, they’ll be added to this list. Here is the current breakdown of where searches stand:

Updated 5-8-24 (4:35pm CT)

Carolina Panthers

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

New England Patriots

Washington Commanders

Commanders GM Adam Peters Addresses Jayden Daniels Selection

The Commanders landed LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels with the No. 2 overall pick in last month’s draft, a pick that generated a great deal of the usual speculation and conjecture in the weeks leading up to the event. For instance, multiple sources suggested that Michigan passer J.J. McCarthy would be Washington’s selection, while others thought that UNC’s Drake Maye would be first-year GM Adam Peters‘ choice (and still others believed Peters should trade down).

In a piece detailing the Commanders’ evaluation of Daniels, which will be especially relevant to Washington fans, John Keim of ESPN.com notes that Peters did indeed have a high grade on McCarthy thanks to the former Wolverine’s efficiency, strong arm, and mobility. McCarthy ultimately slotted right behind Daniels on the Commanders’ list of QB options and ahead of Maye and Michael Penix Jr., whom the team also scouted heavily.

In 2023, Peters was with the 49ers, a club that was not in the market for a first-round passer. So he did not begin evaluating the 2024 draft class of blue chip signal-callers before he took the Washington job, but once he finally got to review Daniels’ film, he became “smitten” with the reigning Heisman Trophy winner.

“The way he can process, the way he can see the field, the way he goes through his reads, the way he delivers [the ball] on time,” Peters said. “He’s the best deep-ball thrower in the draft, and that’s even before we start watching him run and the way he runs he just takes your soul as a defense. You think you got him and then all of a sudden, he rips off a 40-yard run. And this is against the SEC, the best of the best.”

Prior to the interview that team brass conducted with Daniels at the scouting combine in February, Peters told a group including owner Josh Harris, head coach Dan Quinn, offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury, and front office consultant Bob Myers that “something has to happen [for the pick] to not be Jayden.” 

As the predraft process went on, Peters’ conviction only got stronger as he realized that Daniels’ work ethic and character matched the quality of his game tape. As Keim details, Daniels had the passcode changed at an LSU facility so he could put in more work when the facility would have otherwise been locked, and he also arranged for 5 a.m. workouts with his receivers, a feat that one team source said was particularly impressive to Peters.

Peters also received glowing reviews on Daniels from respected voices back in San Francisco, including Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan and wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, one of Daniels’ close friends. Peters said that he never considered trading back in the draft and taking the Commanders out of the running for Daniels, and it sounds as if rival clubs knew he was entrenched in his position. The GM said that he received only one offer for the No. 2 pick — presumably from the Raiders, who were known to covet Daniels — but that proposal “didn’t move the needle.”

It is not yet a sure thing that Daniels will be Washington’s starting quarterback on Week 1 of the 2024 campaign, with free agent acquisition Marcus Mariota available to serve as a bridge to the Daniels era if necessary. Sooner or later, though, Daniels will take the reins, and Peters is delighted by his club’s good fortune.

“We couldn’t be happier,” he said.

Commanders Add 11 UDFAs

TODAY, 11:35am: The Commanders have made a late addition to their UDFA class. According to Nicki Jhabvala, the team has signed Notre Dame linebacker Bo Bauer. The rookie is expected to compete for a spot on defense and a spot as a long snapper.

WEDNESDAY, 9:00am: The first Adam Peters-Dan Quinn UDFA group has surfaced. Here is the result of the Commanders’ post-draft signing period:

Rated as the 12th-best QB prospect in this draft (per ESPN’s Scouts Inc.), Hartman will join a team that selected the No. 2 player at this position. The Commanders now have Jayden Daniels, Marcus Mariota, Jeff Driskel, Jake Fromm and Hartman on their 90-man roster. Neither Driskel nor Fromm is tied to any guaranteed money; Hartman outranks the two vets, with NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero indicating the team gave the Notre Dame alum a $225K base salary guarantee. Prior to transferring in 2023, Hartman put up big numbers at Wake Forest, producing 38- and 39-touchdown pass seasons to close out his Demon Deacons career. Piloting Notre Dame to a 10-3 record last season, Hartman threw 24 TD passes, eight INTs and averaged a career-best 8.9 yards per attempt.

Washington is going further to bring in Anusiem. The Colorado State product drew interest from around half the league, per Pelissero, who adds the Commanders are giving him a $300K base salary guarantee and a $50K signing bonus. This gives Anusiem a boost toward sticking around as a UDFA. After four years at Cal, Anusiem was a two-season regular with the Rams.

The team is allocating $245K to Owens, per KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson, in the form of a base salary guarantee and $25K signing bonus. Only working as a full-time starter in one of his five college seasons (spent at Texas and Texas Tech), Jones played both safety and in the slot last season. He joins a team that lost Kamren Curl from its safety depth chart in March.

Jones and Wiley join a team that lost Antonio Gibson this offseason. After signing Austin Ekeler, Washington did not draft a running back. Brian Robinson and 2023 draftee Chris Rodriguez remain on the roster. Neither Jones nor Wiley topped 800 yards rushing in a season during a combined 10 years in the Pac-12. A Stanford transfer, Jones rushed for 477 yards alongside MarShawn Lloyd for the Trojans last season. Jones, who gained 705 on the ground in Lincoln Riley’s USC debut, rejoins 2023 Trojans assistant Kliff Kingsbury in Washington.

OL Notes: Guyton, Beebe, Cowboys, Commanders, LT, Raiders, Packers, Patriots

Tyler Smith delivering strong early returns at two positions — left tackle, left guard — gave the Cowboys options while constructing their draft board, and Oklahoma tackle Tyler Guyton became the team’s pick. The Guyton move points to Smith staying at guard. The Cowboys are set to give the ex-Sooners right tackle every opportunity to win the starting LT job, The Athletic’s Jon Machota notes (subscription required). Teams make the inverse move more often, with the college game’s top O-linemen most frequently coming from the left tackle spot. Guyton views himself as a more natural left tackle, however, and his development there will keep well-paid RT Terence Steele in place.

Trading down from No. 24 to 29, the Cowboys picked up an extra third-rounder (No. 73). Dallas used the latter pick on Kansas State’s Cooper Beebe, and Machota adds he profiles as the team’s Tyler Biadasz center replacement. Linked to Duke center prospect Graham Barton at No. 24, the Cowboys passed with the ex-Blue Devil on the board (Barton went to the Buccaneers at No. 26). Beebe vacillated between left tackle, right tackle and left guard with the Big 12 program. While Machota notes Beebe could be an eventual Zack Martin successor, he is on track to begin his career at center.

Here is the latest from O-lines around the league:

2024 NFL Draft Results: Team By Team

Here is every team’s haul from the 2024 NFL Draft:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

  • Round 2, No. 33 (from Panthers): Keon Coleman (WR, Florida State)
  • Round 2, No. 60: Cole Bishop (S, Utah)
  • Round 3, No. 95 (from Chiefs): DeWayne Carter, DT (Duke)
  • Round 4, No. 128: Ray Davis (RB, Kentucky)
  • Round 5, No. 141 (from Giants through Panthers): Sedrick Van Pran-Granger (C, Georgia)
  • Round 5, No. 160 (from Packers): Edefuan Ulofoshio (LB, Washington)
  • Round 5, No. 168 (from Saints): Javon Solomon (EDGE, Troy)
  • Round 6, No. 204: Tylan Grable (T, Central Florida)
  • Round 6, No. 219 (from Packers): Daequan Hardy (CB, Penn State)
  • Round 7, No. 221 (from Panthers through Titans and Chiefs): Travis Clayton (T, England) (signed)

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Read more