Leadership means making tough decisions.
Washington Commanders coach Ron Rivera and general manager Martin Mayhew are well aware that if next season does not bring an improvement in the win total, they will be finished with the Commanders.
Last offseason, Commanders Wire wrote prior to the Carson Wentz trade about our concern that Rivera and Mayhew had presented an appearance of desperation and being needy. Sure enough, our concerns were confirmed when the Commanders acquired Wentz. They gave up a third-round draft choice, a conditional second/third-round choice, swapped picks in the second round (five places), and agreed to take on all of Wentz’s $28 million salary for 2022.
This is what we wrote last offseason to close that post:
Sometimes in negotiations, we really must be careful because if our posture is one of being too needy, the negotiation will actually be nothing more than the other guy taking advantage of us. A fair mediation will involve you being willing to walk away from the table. I am hoping, if need be, Coach Ron and Mayhew are both willing to walk away from the table.
A year later, here we are again. Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is going to be available via trade. We’ve seen the best Taylor Heinicke can give, and we have no idea how Sam Howell will develop over the next three seasons.
However, Carr has a $34,875,000 cap hit in 2023, $43,875,000 in 2024 and $43,175,000 in 2025. Rivera and Mayhew need to win next season. Consequently, they might not want to wait to see if Howell develops.
There are also pending free agents to consider, such as Daron Payne, Taylor Heinicke, Cole Holcomb, Cam Sims, Jeremy Reaves, Jonathan Williams, Khaleke Hudson, Milo Eifler, Tyler Larsen and Wes Schweitzer.
Oh, and what about 2024 free agents such as Montez Sweat, Kamren Curl, James Smith-Williams, Antonio Gibson, Chase Young, Kendall Fuller and Curtis Samuel?
The Commanders should go with Howell on his rookie contract, build through the draft, sign their proven players who can help them in the next three to four years, and sign a low-cost, veteran quarterback.
The best leaders do what is best for the organization in the short term and the long term, and this offseason will go a long way toward showing a potential new Commanders owner what kind of leaders Rivera and Mayhew are.