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Carson Wentz, Bobby McCain commanders were cut into eye futures

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The Washington Commanders released quarterback Carson Wentz and defensive end Bobby McCain on Monday, saving nearly $29 million weeks before the start of free agency and clearing the way for the team’s youngest talent.

While both moves were expected, they mark the end of a brief era in Washington. Wentz, who the Generals acquired in a trade with the Indianapolis Colts last year, started just seven games because of a finger injury. The Chiefs were 2-4 when he underwent surgery and Taylor Heinicke took over.

Wentz returned as a starter in Week 17 against the Cleveland Browns. Washington went 7-7-1 with Wentz Heinig taking over and threw three interceptions and no touchdowns in the loss, which eliminated Washington from playoff contention.

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As part of the trade for Wentz, the Commanders swapped 2022 second-round picks with the Colts and gave up a 2022 third-rounder and a 2023 third-rounder. Wentz only had one year of guaranteed money in his contract, so Washington was able to make a clean sweep without taking dead money — or money that counts against its cap — after one season.

For the first time in his career, Wentz will be a free agent. This offseason, he’ll be looking for his fourth team in four seasons, a drastic fall for the No. 2 pick in the 2016 draft.

With Heinicke also hitting free agency, the Commanders will, at least for now, turn to 2022 fifth-round pick Sam Howell, who is the only quarterback on the books for 2023. Howell will enter camp as the projected starter. , but coach Ron Rivera indicated he hopes to add a veteran player in some capacity, and new offensive coordinator Eric Bainemi acknowledged the need for competition in the quarterback room.

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“I’m excited about the opportunity to get to know the kid,” she said of Howell. “But most of all, you always want to create competition. You want to make sure we’re getting the best out of the people who have been in that particular position.

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McCain’s exit was largely due to the emergence of 2021 fifth-round pick Tarik Forrest, who proved to be a key part of the Commanders’ secondary in 2022. Forrest recorded a team-high four interceptions and two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and 88 tackles.

McCain’s play at free safety, along with the performance of Benjamin St-Justin at cornerback, prompted Washington to move McCain to the third safety in its “Buffalo” nickel package. McCain’s versatility has given the team flexibility in its defensive backs, and as Washington rebuilds its secondary, adding more positional flexibility will be a priority.

The Commanders have long been valuable defensive backs who can play multiple spots and who can switch during a game or series — players like safety Cam Curl, who played primarily at linebacker last season, and cornerback Kendall Fuller, who can play inside and outside. .

The 2023 draft class is very deep in defensive back talent, and some analysts have Washington adding a defensive tackle in the early rounds. But the team’s needs extend to several positions, including offensive line, tight end, linebacker and, of course, quarterback.

For Rivera and the Commanders’ staff and coaching staff, work begins in earnest this week at the NFL combine in Indianapolis — where Washington decided to trade for Wentz a year ago.

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