By Adam Aniba
Washington HC Ron Rivera made it clear during OTA's, Cole Holcomb would be the starting MLB for the '22 season. On the other hand, Jamin Davis was drafted 19th overall in the '21 draft, with the presumption that he'd be the next Washington MIKE linebacker. It hasn't panned out thus far with Davis dealing with growing pains, even playing a backup role in camp behind veteran David Mayo as an outside linebacker. It would be a knee jerk reaction to give up on Davis so soon, but WLB is probably the best spot for him.
During training camp the Commanders lost one linebacker (Drew White) for the season to injury, with another retiring and unretiring in a span of 24 hours (Tre Walker). Third year linebacker Khaleke Hudson, is another linebacker that hasn't been up to par.
It's well documented that DC Jack Del Rio will be utilizing more 5-man fronts, making the SLB a non factor. Nonetheless, injuries occur and the overall talent and depth makes linebacker the biggest concern heading into the season.
The story of the day around the NFL, has been 5th year Chicago Bears MLB Roquan Smith requesting a trade. Smith went as far to release a statement about his unhappiness with the current situation in Chicago.
"The new front office regime doesn't value me here. They've refused to negotiate in good faith, every step of this journey has been 'take it or leave it. The deal sent to me is one that would be bad for myself and for the entire LB market if I signed it. I've been trying to get something done that's fair since April, but their focus has been on trying to take advantage of me".
Smith is the only player in the NFL with 500+ tackles and 40+ tackles for a loss since 2018. At only 25 years old, Smith is in the prime of his career. He's recorded 100 total tackles in all four seasons since being drafted 8th overall in '18.
Last season Smith ranked 5th in the NFL with 163 total tackles and per PFF had a coverage passer rating of 76.8. His 14 sacks and 5 interceptions during his career are also notable.
The trade market for Smith will be vast, but if Chicago's hand is forced, they'll want to maximize his value. Although draft capital will be discussed with potential trade partners, the Commanders have an asset that could entice Chicago.
A trade involving Washington DT Daron Payne for Smith would be a win win for both teams. Defensive tackle is a position of need for Chicago, who feature a cast largely made up of role players and mid level free agents. Their switch from the 3-4 to the 4-3 base defensive alignment, should make Washington an enticing trade partner.
The former Georgia linebacker is on the final year of his rookie contract with a $9.75 million cap hit. Payne is also on the final year of his deal with a $8.52 million cap number. Even after the Terry McLaurin contract extension, Washington has $13.4 million remaining in salary cap room for the '22 season.
Washington has lacked a true game changing linebacker since London Fletcher. This trade should be an even swap or at most, the Commanders could add a conditional 4th rounder in '23 to sweeten the pot. One thing is certain, both teams need impact players now, rather than draft capital and Smith instantly would elevate the Commanders defense into a top unit.
**Also CLICK on the banner below for the latest B&G Report Happy Hour Training Camp Thoughts Edition**