The 2023 NFL draft saw the Washington Commanders add seven new players. When you add new players, you sometimes need to make room on your roster for the new players or free up extra money to fit the rookie class under the salary cap.
Sometimes, the draft can force teams to move on from popular veteran players.
The Commanders face a similar situation after last weekend’s draft. Two Washington rookies are expected to start for the Commanders in 2023, including first-round cornerback Emmanuel Forbes.
Here are three Washington veterans who could be in jeopardy after the draft.
CB Kendall Fuller
Before the NFL draft, Kendall Fuller was often mentioned as a player the Commanders should extend. With one year remaining on the four-year deal he signed in 2020, Fuller quietly had an excellent season in 2022. He returned two interceptions for touchdowns and was one of the better corners in the NFC. Before Washington traded Fuller in 2018, he was an excellent slot corner. However, he’s thrived on the outside since returning in 2020. With Forbes and Quan Martin now in the fold, where does that leave Fuller?
Fuller is set to count $11.6 million against the cap in 2023. Could he be a release candidate? He would have no shortage of suitors, but he’s more valuable to the Commanders. Fuller is important on the field, but he’s a leader off the field, too. He’s a pro in the meeting rooms and would be an asset to Martin and Forbes.
But, that cap hit for 2023 has created some speculation.
C Chase Roullier
All of what we said about Fuller applies to Chase Roullier, as far as his impact in the locker room. Roullier is a popular player who Washington extended in 2021. Unfortunately, he’s suffered back-to-back devastating injuries in each of the last two seasons. It’s why Washington fortified the center position this offseason by signing Nick Gates, re-signing Tyler Larsen and drafting Ricky Stromberg.
Roullier is to count $12.4 million against the 2023 salary cap. This one appears a no-brainer, considering Washington’s other moves at the position. It appears that the Commanders were waiting until after the draft to make a move.
OT Cornelius Lucas
Cornelius Lucas came to Washington in 2020 expected to serve as a swing tackle. He’s often been in the starting lineup at both tackle positions during his three seasons with the Commanders, mostly at right tackle. Washington signed Trenton Scott to a two-year deal in March. He will count $1.49 million against the cap, whereas Lucas counts $4.35 million. Not a huge difference, but something worth watching. Remember, head coach Ron Rivera said the Commanders wanted to give rookie Braeden Daniels a chance to start his career at tackle. I would think Lucas is safe because he’s been a reliable backup, but you just never know.