NFL Draft News & Analysis

How the Washington Commanders can shake up the 2024 NFL offseason

2T38B80 Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) throws a pass during the second half of an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers, Monday, Oct. 23, 2023, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)

The quarterback carousel is always the most interesting element of any NFL offseason, and this year there’s a potential outcome that could shake up the landscape like nothing else.

The Washington Commanders sit with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft and the most salary cap space of any team in the league. It has been presumed that they will draft the second quarterback available — likely North Carolina's Drake Maye or LSU's Jayden Daniels — or maybe even get aggressive and trade with the Chicago Bears to select USC's Caleb Williams at No. 1 overall.

But what if they went a different route and reunited with an old friend?

Kirk Cousins, at 35 years old and coming off an Achilles tear, carries some significant red flags. He can’t be seen as the team’s starter for the next 10 years, even in an era where Tom Brady just showed that was attainable for players with a manic obsession for taking care of their bodies.

Cousins is, however, the clear top veteran option available, and when we last saw him at the NFL Honors, he was doing a dance number less than 100 days after tearing his Achilles.

Washington's roster features a lot of talent, particularly in the form of offensive weapons, that could turn things around quickly with a good quarterback. New coaches Dan Quinn and Kliff Kingsbury are potentially also better suited to a veteran at the position rather than the unknown of a rookie face of the franchise.

If the Commanders were to simply replicate the kind of deal Cousins coveted during his time in Minnesota — a three-year, fully guaranteed contract — it would make sense for both sides.

It would also free up the No. 2 overall draft pick and make Washington open for trade business.

Several quarterback-needy teams may be trying to talk themselves into QB3 or QB4 in this draft, with passers likely to be selected with at least the first two selections and anybody still in need either having to accept the next-best signal-caller available or be prepared to trade into one of those first two spots.

If Chicago decides to select a quarterback, Washington’s draft slot would become the only available option for any team needing to secure their man.

Tempting as it may be to draft a potentially generational receiver like Marvin Harrison Jr., if the Commanders sign Cousins in free agency, chances are they could get an impact starting wide receiver lower down as well as generate a massive trade haul if they found the right buyer for that selection.

When Washington traded up from No. 6 to No. 2 back in 2012, it cost the team three first-round picks and a second-rounder.

By way of example, the Atlanta Falcons could become desperate enough to make that trade if they miss out on Cousins in free agency.

Washington could trade back to the No. 8 spot, pick up multiple additional high-value picks and still be able to draft an elite talent in the first round.

When running this exact scenario in PFF’s Mock Draft Simulator, Georgia tight end Brock Bowers and Washington wide receiver Rome Odunze were the top two players left on the board when the Commanders' pick rolled around.

If the top 10 fell another way, one of the elite offensive tackles — such as Notre Dame’s Joe Alt or Penn State’s Olu Fashanu — could be available. In either case, the team would immediately be able to add a Day 1 starter to the offense that, instead of being led by an unproven rookie, would be helmed by a veteran who has been playing his best football in recent years.

In the trade I made with Atlanta, Washington received Pick Nos. 43 and 74 this year, as well as a future first.

Here is the overall draft haul that the team came away with via the PFF Mock Draft Simulator just this season, while also being set up incredibly well for future years:

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