Commanders 2024 free agency tracker: Offseason moves, signings

Austin Ekeler brings pass-catching experience to Washington. David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire

ASHBURN, Va. -- NFL free agency is off and running, and we're keeping track of every major signing, trade and release of the 2024 offseason, with analysis from our NFL Nation reporters and grades from our experts. The new league year begins Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET, which means free agent signings can be made official after that.

The first round of the 2024 NFL draft begins April 25 on ESPN.

Here's a breakdown of every 2024 NFL free agent signing by the Washington Commanders and how each will impact the upcoming season:

Austin Ekeler, RB

The former Charger agreed to a two-year deal worth up to $11.43 million on Monday.

What it means: Washington didn't try to re-sign Antonio Gibson but did need another back to pair with Brian Robinson and Chris Rodriguez. Ekeler has been a productive back in his first seven seasons with 8,239 total yards from scrimmage. In Kliff Kingsbury's offense, they needed another back with pass-catching experience. Ekeler wasn't as productive running last season, averaging a career-low 3.5 yards per carry. But he doesn't need to carry the ball as often as he did in the past with Robinson and Rodriguez also capable. Ekeler does need to be productive in the pass game.

What's the risk: If he's no longer a consistent producer in the pass game. Ekeler caught 51 passes last year, his lowest total in the last five seasons. He had a drop on 5.4 percent of his targets, matching a career-low. He showed glimpses of his explosiveness, but for it to work for Washington it has to be more consistent. The Commanders could always add another multi-dimensional back in the draft, but they will need Ekeler to be productive.

Bobby Wagner, LB

Wagner joins the Commanders on a one-year deal worth up to $8.5 million.

What it means: Washington adds a strong leader to a defense desperately in need of one. It also highlights a possible defensive shift for the team. The Commanders used a 4-3 base the past four seasons but, if they want, can now use the 3-4 base front coach Dan Quinn used in Dallas the past three years. Wagner played in a 3-4 the past two seasons and he remains an effective blitzer. The Commanders needed better leadership on defense; he can fill that role.

What's the risk: At age 34, the big question will be what does Wagner have left? It's only a one-year deal so if he isn't up to his past standards then it's not a risky investment. The key will be how Washington uses him -- do they still view him as an every-down player? They can increase his effectiveness by not needing him to do everything.

Marcus Mariota, QB

Former Eagles QB Mariota is signing with the Washington Commanders on a one-year deal with a base value of $6 million and upside to $10 million, a source tells Adam Schefter.

What it means: Washington now has a veteran to pair with a rookie quarterback. The Commanders are widely expected to draft one with the second overall pick in April. They already have Sam Howell but needed someone with more experience to serve as a backup/mentor. It also calls into question Howell's future with the team, especially if other teams make a decent offer. They don't have to move him -- they could always see if he can be a strong No. 2 in the future -- but he would be their third quarterback this season.

What's the risk: Mariota signed only a one-year deal and he's fine as a backup, but he has not proven to be a quality starter during his first nine seasons. If they decide to move Howell, the risk would be that he develops into a mid-tier starter or high-end backup elsewhere. But if the quarterback they pick in the draft becomes a top starter they will be able to live with that scenario.

Zach Ertz, TE

The Commanders signed Ertz to a one-year deal worth up to $5 million.

What it means: Washington needed a veteran tight end after releasing Logan Thomas last week. The Commanders have no proven pass-catcher -- John Bates caught 53 passes in his first three years combined but is more of a run-blocker.

Ertz knows offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury's system from their days with the Arizona Cardinals, and he can be an effective option as a tight end operating in the slot. He'll be helpful to others who will need to learn a new offense. Ertz can also provide a security blanket for a rookie quarterback, assuming Washington drafts one with the second overall pick.

What's the risk: Because it's a low-cost signing there's no real risk. Ertz has been hit impacted by injuries each of the last two seasons -- a quadriceps injury in 2023 and a knee the previous year.

When healthy he can still be effective. The risk would be if Washington fails to add more players at this position. Cole Turner, a fifth-round pick in 2022, has not been productive with 13 career catches. Armani Rogers, who caught five passes in 11 games as a rookie in 2022, missed last season with an Achilles injury. Rogers showed some flashes two years ago after converting from quarterback, but the Commanders should look to draft another tight end.

Dante Fowler Jr., DE

What it means: Depth. And another familiar face. Commanders coach Dan Quinn recruited Fowler to Florida and coached him in Atlanta and Dallas. They've now added three defensive ends during free agency and Fowler will provide help as a rotational pass rusher. Fowler had 10 sacks the past two seasons combined in Dallas. The Commanders could add more depth here, possibly via the draft but it doesn't need to be a high priority as it appeared before this week.

What's the risk: Minimal. Though the terms haven't been disclosed -- neither length nor money -- it was not expected to be a big deal. Also, the coaches know exactly what they're getting in Fowler. As always, the risk would be in not adding more talent to this position via the draft. Washington needs more talented young players to develop at this spot.

Frankie Luvu, LB

Luvu agreed to a deal for three years worth up to $36 million.

What it means: Washington fills yet another hole, this time at inside linebacker next to Jamin Davis. The Commanders have been unable to solidify this position for a while and they now have a player coming off two solid years in Carolina. Luvu can move around and is considered a good blitzer -- something new coach Dan Quinn likes in his linebackers.

What's the risk: The risk was in failing to sign a linebacker. Washington lacks depth at the position so it can't be done adding at this spot, but Luvu gives them a starter. He'll have to show he can handle calling signals all the time -- he did handle it after Shaq Thompson was lost for the season in Carolina last year. Luvu also was named a captain. Washington is betting that he'll continue to ascend; the lone risk will be if he does not.

Tyler Biadasz, C

Biadasz agreed to a three-year deal.

What it means: Washington badly needed a veteran center who can be durable after going through numerous players at the position the past three seasons thanks to injuries. The Commanders drafted Ricky Stromberg in the third round last year, but he played 24 snaps -- mostly at guard -- before injuring his right knee and going on injured reserve. With Stromberg still an unknown, Washington needed a veteran, especially with it likely to draft a quarterback. Biadasz is a solid, smart center who fills a big need.

What's the risk: It all depends on how the contract is structuredi. Did Washington pay too premium a price for Biadasz at an average of $10 million per year (according to the NFL Network)? The details will matter. However, that's the only risk because he has been durable, having missed only two games the past two years combined (after dealing with hip issues in college). If Biadasz plays solid he'll represent an upgrade for Washington.

Cornelius Lucas, OT

Lucas returns to Washington on a one-year deal worth up to $4 million.

What it means: Lucas has been a quality swing tackle for Washington since joining the franchise in 2020. Lucas has started 31 games for Washington and 47 overall, showing an ability to play both spots at a solid level. Washington's other backup options on the roster aren't as good and one of them, second-year Braeden Daniels, might end up playing guard after struggling at tackle last summer.

What's the risk: None. Lucas provides another veteran on a one-year deal. Also, Washington knows it must add another starting tackle after releasing left tackle Charles Leno Jr. The Commanders' risk would be not finding his replacement, but that's not a legitimate scenario. The question becomes: Will they draft someone (there's good depth, even into the second round)? Or find another veteran. They need to add quality youth to their line so not taking one in the draft would be risky -- and run counter to how they want to build.

Efe Obada, DE

Obada returns to the Commanders on a one-year deal.

What it means: Depth. Obada can serve in a similar role that he's had the past two seasons in Washington -- a fourth or fifth defensive end capable of also rushing inside. Obada's versatility fits a lot of what new coach Dan Quinn likes and wants to do up front, creating movement and tapping into physicality. He had a tendency to freelance in the past so he'll have to cut that down.

What's the risk: None. Obada is a backup who adds depth. He was a helpful player in 2022 but only played five games last season. He also dealt with a knee injury that sidelined him earlier in the season and then broke his leg later in the year. Obada had four sacks in 2022 but none last seasson.

Jeremy Chinn, S

Chinn agreed to a one-year, $5.2 million deal, coming from the Carolina Panthers

What it means: Kamren Curl likely won't return to the Commanders. Their former starting safety remains free as the two sides could not work out a deal prior to the legal tampering period. Washington also has young safeties in Jartavius Martin, Darrick Forrest and Percy Butler. At 6-foot-3, 220 pounds Chinn provides another versatile piece, someone capable of playing near the line as a linebacker or as a box safety. He also can match up with tight ends and running backs in coverage. Chinn has played both safety positions.

What's the risk: It's a one-year low-cost deal so there's minimal risk, unless they see Curl become a top player on another defense. Chinn's play time plummeted in Carolina last season. He played a career-low 272 snaps in 12 games -- nearly 400 fewer than in 2022 when he played 11 games. If Chinn is used closer to the line in more situations it could allow him to become a playmaker; he has not intercepted a pass or caused a fumble the last two seasons. As a rookie linebacker he recorded one interception, caused two fumbles -- and returned two others for scores.

Dorance Armstrong, DE

The Commanders are signing Armstrong to a three-year deal worth up to $45 million.

What it means: After trading Montez Sweat and Chase Young at the deadline last season, Washington had no starting defensive ends on its roster so Armstrong's arrival will fill a big hole. The Commanders still need to add one more, whether in free agency or the draft. Armstrong has quickness and can rush inside on obvious pass downs. Also, he became the first Cowboy to reunite with his former defensive boss Dan Quinn in Washington. More are expected to come. Washington still has holes at end, needing another starter but also backups. The Commanders top defensive ends after the trades also are free agents.

What's the risk: Armstrong has started only 14 games in his career and will not be playing opposite Micah Parsons in Washington so he'll have to prove he can be a full-time guy and create on his own. Washington is paying him as if he will do so. Armstrong was highly productive as a backup the past two years, with a combined 16 sacks. If he continues to be a solid end there is no risk.

Clelin Ferrell, DE

Ferrell has agreed to a one-year deal.

What it means: Washington has now landed another starting caliber defensive end to pair with Armstrong. The Commanders had a massive need at the position but have now filled it on the first two days of the negotiating period. They still need depth but are off to a good start. Ferrell is a strong locker room presence who plays with discipline, something Washington's front struggled with in previous years. He's much better against the run than as a pass-rusher.

What's the risk: None. Ferrell signed only a one-year deal so it's not prohibitive, and Washington can still draft someone at the position to develop for the future. Ferrell, the No. 4 pick in the 2019 draft, has not become much of a pass-rusher with only 13.5 career sacks. And he's now with his fourth franchise. So he's not a long-term solution, but based on the length of the deal Washington does not view him that way.

Michael Davis, CB

Davis signed with the Commanders on a one-year deal.

What it means: Washington needed more potential starters at corner. The Commanders were thin at this position entering free agency. Their only starting caliber corners were Benjamin St-Juste and Emmanuel Forbes, who struggled as a rookie. At 6-2, 196 pounds, Davis is a bigger corner. Washington secondary coach Tom Donatell coached Davis for three seasons with the Chargers.

What's the risk: Minimal. It's a one-year deal and Davis has experience; both factors help. But he did not play as well last season as he had in 2022 and came off the bench for four games. The Commanders would be wise to draft another player at this position, but they minimized the pressure to do so if it's not someone they really want.

Jeremy Reaves, S

Reaves returns to Washington after signing a two-year deal.

What it means: Washington will be letting most of their free agents exit but made it a point to keep Reaves because of his importance on special teams and in the locker room. Reaves was named All-Pro and made the Pro Bowl in 2022 for his special teams ability. He also was a strong leader in the locker room. Reaves became a respected voice in part because of how he persevered: He joined Washington in 2018 and spent most of his time on the practice squad; he did not make the roster out of training camp until 2022. His presence helps the gunners on the outside in punt coverage because of the attention he commands from the opposition in the middle of the field.

What's the risk: None. Reaves is coming off a partially torn ACL in his left knee that required surgery in late October. Typically players return from such an injury in nine to 12 months. But Reaves should be able to contribute at a similar level as in the past. As long as he does that, then Washington will be thrilled. It speaks volumes that he's now on his third coaching staff while with the organization.

Brandon McManus, K

McManus agreed to a one-year deal worth $3.6 million.

What it means: Joey Slye, Washington's kicker the past two-plus seasons, is a free agent so the Commanders needed someone. McManus has made 81.4% of his career field goals, including 81.1% in Jacksonville last year. He has missed only three extra points the past three years combined; Slye missed seven in that span. That was his big downfall in Washington as Slye did make 84.8% of his field goals in Washington.

What's the risk: Slye has a big leg and if he ever gains consistency, notably on extra points, he'll be a solid kicker in the NFL. McManus ranked 30th in the NFL in field goal percentage last season so he'll need to improve -- though his percentage was just about his career average. But his consistency on kicks between 40-49 yards should alleviate some concerns. In the last four years he's made 94.9% of such kicks -- the highest conversion rate of any kicker with at least 20 attempts in that span.

Anthony Pittman, LB

Pittman has agree to a one-year deal.

What it means: Depth and special teams. Pittman was a special teams standout with the Lions, with whom he'd spent his first five seasons -- after going undrafted out of Wayne State in 2019. Washington has retooled its linebacker room, adding three players to the position to solidify the starting roles as well as adding depth. It helps that Washington's new assistant general manager, Lance Newmark, served in Detroit's front office during Pittman's time with the Lions.

What's the risk: None. It's a one-year deal and Pittman will be asked to be exactly what he was in Detroit: a core special teams performer. The Commanders lacked depth at the position, nor did they have many young players who offered more. They should still look to add a young linebacker to develop.

Nick Allegretti, OG

The former Kansas City Chiefs guard agreed to terms on a three-year, $16 million contract.

What it means: The Commanders need to fix their interior and did so by agreeing to a deal with Biadasz and now Allegretti. He left Kansas City because he wanted a chance to start. He'll have that in Washington, which needs a left guard. Whether Allegretti starts or is simply a good backup at both guard spots, he adds a tough competitor who played in the Super Bowl despite a torn ligament in his elbow.

What's the risk: Allegretti has started only 13 career games and only four the last three years combined. Washington should continue to look for players who can challenge for a starting job. It has not had a good line in several years and still needs to add at least one tackle. Washington's investment for someone in Allegretti's spot -- possible starter or high-end backup -- isn't bad, but he has become a key part in rebuilding the front.

Noah Igbinoghene, CB

Igbinoghene signs with Washington on a one-year deal.

What it means: Depth. Washington had just six corners on its roster so it needed more help at the position. Igbinoghene has talent, having been a first-round pick by Miami in 2020 (he was the youngest player in the league when drafted). But he's struggled as a starter. Igbinoghene also plays special teams, which helps. The Commanders have placed a great emphasis on familiarity when signing free agents and Igbinoghene played for Washington coach Dan Quinn and defensive coordinator Joe Whitt Jr., in Dallas.

What's the risk: None. He's not coming here to start. Washington still must address the position and that won't end with this signing. The Commanders have Benjamin St-Juste and Emmanuel Forbes as possible starters, but St-Juste is coming off an inconsistent season and Forbes struggled as a rookie. Washington knows it must add a quality player -- or two -- at this position to solidify the secondary.

Jamison Crowder, WR

Crowder returns to Washington on a one-year deal.

What it means: Depth and special teams play. Crowder averaged 7.9 yards per punt return for Washington last season. As a reserve receiver he added 16 catches for 159 yards and a touchdown out of the slot, still showing the ability to get open. Washington did not have another proven returner on the roster so retaining Crowder helps. He's also caught 431 career passes, so his savvy as a backup is important.

What's the risk: None. It's a one-year deal and it's unlikely that it'll be for a lot of money so there's not much risk involved in bringing him back. The Commanders will continue looking for other receivers, whether in free agency or the draft. They're likely to lose Curtis Samuel via free agency but still need to add size and perhaps another deep threat at the position.

James Pierre, CB

Pierre joins the Commanders on a one-year deal.

What it means: Depth and special teams help. That's what Pierre provided Pittsburgh for four seasons. He started six games but played more snaps on special teams than he did from scrimmage. Washington has remade its corner room, having signed three already. Pierre was a core special teamer and steady backup for the Steelers. Washington needs players who fit that description.

What's the risk: None. Depth and special teams help is always welcomed, especially on one-year deals. But Washington should continue to seek help at corner, though more in the form of potential starters, as there are questions about the Commanders' top players at this position.

Olamide Zaccheaus, WR

Zaccheaus signed a one-year deal with the Commanders.

What it means: Depth. Washington lost Curtis Samuel to free agency and it needed more to pair with Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson. Zaccheaus struggled in Philadelphia last season, but he was productive the previous season in Atlanta -- with quarterback Marcus Mariota, who is now in Washington. Zaccheaus caught a career-high 40 passes for 533 yards and three touchdowns in 2022. He caught 10 passes last season. Zaccheaus can run routes from multiple receiver spots, but can help mostly in the slot with his short-area quickness and solid hands.

What's the risk: None. Washington needed more bodies at the position who could play and he'll challenge Jamison Crowder for a backup spot. The Commanders still need to find a bigger target, something it has lacked in recent seasons. They also don't have a proven third wideout yet so adding one in the first two or three rounds of the draft should be under strong consideration.

Tyler Ott, LS

Ott agreed to the three-year deal, coming from the Baltimore Ravens.

What it means: Washington had issues at long snapper last season with Cam Cheeseman, a sixth-round pick in 2021. He struggled with his consistency and Tucker Addington snapped in the final two games. Ott provides more experience and snapped four years under new special teams coach Larry Izzo in Seattle. Ott has snapped six seasons overall.

What's the risk: Minimal. Ott was solid last year in Baltimore and Izzo's familiarity with him helps. If Addington goes on to a long career the Commanders might have missed something, but in the short term they have a guy they know and trust. That's key. Washington now has a new long snapper and place kicker (Brandon McManus) to pair with holdover punter Tress Way. They'll have time to develop a rhythm.

Michael Deiter, C

Dieter signs with the Commanders on a one-year deal.

What it means: Depth. Deiter offers experience and versatility. Washington lacked solid veteran backups along the interior. Deiter started 12 games at center for the Texans in 2023, including the playoffs. Deiter also has started 35 games overall, including at left guard, during his five seasons. The Commanders signed Biadasz to be their starting center. Washington's backup center, Ricky Stromberg, is coming off a knee injury. Washington's backup left guard, Chris Paul, has started 11 career games in his first two seasons. He struggled in protection at times.

What's the risk: None. Washington needed strong, experienced depth inside, which Deiter provides. And he clearly can start if needed.

Jeremy McNichols, RB

McNichols joins Washington on a one-year deal.

What it means: Depth and competition for a roster spot. Washington has its two top backs in Robinson and Ekeler. The Commanders also have Rodriguez both as a runner and pass-catcher out of the backfield. But those were the only three backs on the roster prior to this signing. This is the 10th franchise McNichols has been with. He has played 37 career games and has 55 career receptions and 90 carries. Every catch and all but two carries occurred in the 2020 and 2021 seasons with Tennessee. He was with San Francisco in 2017 and again last season when he was off and on their roster; Commanders general manager Peters knows McNichols well and shares the same agent.

What's the risk: None. It's a one-year deal, and Washington will continue to look for running back help, whether in the draft or with other signings such as this one. But the Commanders do need to improve their quality of depth. McNichols has some ability, but he was on injured reserve in 2022 with a shoulder injury and appeared in only three games last season. He's worth a shot to see if he can help.

Jeff Driskel, QB

Driskel signs with Washington on a one-year deal.

What it means: Another quarterback in camp. Peters said recently he wanted to have four quarterbacks in camp. The Commanders now have three and will draft another with the second overall pick in a couple weeks. Driskel would compete with Jake Fromm to be the third quarterback, whether sticking on the roster or the practice squad. The future draft pick and Mariota will, of course, occupy the top two spots.

What's the risk: None. Driskel would be the third quarterback, if he makes the roster. He'd be fine in that role considering he has experience (391 career pass attempts in eight seasons with five teams). If Washington has to play its third quarterback this season, it's in trouble regardless of who it is.

Mykal Walker, LB

The former Steeler is signing a one-year deal.

What it means: Washington added its fifth linebacker since free agency began last month. The Commanders needed to strengthen this area, from their starters to depth. Walker provides experience, having played both inside and outside during his four NFL seasons. Walker will be reunited with Dan Quinn, who was coaching Atlanta in 2020 when the team drafted Walker in the fourth round.

What's the risk: None. Walker is an experienced backup at multiple spots, having started 25 games. He started 12 games at middle linebacker for Atlanta in 2022, recording a career-high 107 tackles, but was cut the following summer. He has struggled in the past in pass coverage, but he has done well vs. the run.