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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Bryan Manning

3 Commanders set for performance raises in 2023

The Washington Commanders have done a good job of finding good players in the third round or later over the last several years. Wide receiver Terry McLaurin is the shining example of Washington’s drafting success after the first round.

The 2020 NFL draft will forever be known as the draft that brought defensive end Chase Young to Washington. Whether you consider that good or bad, we likely will not have a firm answer to that until the end of the 2023 NFL season.

However, that draft did bring Washington some unheralded talent. Washington selected running back Antonio Gibson in the third round, safety Kamren Curl and defensive end James Smith-Williams each in the seventh round.

Gibson rushed for 795 yards and 11 touchdowns as a rookie. He followed that up with a 1,000-yard season in 2021. Curl established himself as a starter at safety as a rookie, quickly becoming one of Washington’s most important players. Curl is set to get paid. Finally, Smith-Williams was almost an afterthought because he was in the same draft as Young. However, due to Young’s injury, Smith-Williams has played in 42 games with 20 starts in three seasons.

Thanks to the NFL’s Proven Performance Escalator, a fourth-year salary escalator for players on drafted rookie contracts not drafted in the first round, Gibson, Curl and Smith-Williams are all due for raises in 2023.

Gibson’s original base salary for 2023 was $1.28 million. He will now earn just over $3 million in 2023, per Over the Cap. Curl’s initial base salary was $1.01 million, but he is now scheduled to earn just over $3 million. Smith-Williams’ initial base salary was just over $1 million for 2023, and he will also receive a raise.

When Josh Harris takes over as Washington’s new owner later this month, don’t be surprised if an extension for Curl isn’t one of the first things on their agenda.

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