The Washington Commanders will soon turn the page to a new era, with owner Daniel Snyder on the verge of a multi-billion dollar deal to sell the franchise. In a turning point for an NFL team that has had one of the worst reputations in professional sports, could also be an opportunity for the new ownership group to send an early message to its fan base.
Despite being located in a region with one of the highest median household incomes in the United States, the Commanders have lost the support of the local fan base in recent years. Thanks to an array of issues that arose during Snyder’s tenure as owner, a once-storied franchise has become a major problem for the NFL.
- Lamar Jackson stats (career): 45-16 record, 101-38 TD-INT, 96.7 passer rating, 7.4 ypa, 4,437 rushing yards, 24 rushing touchdowns, 267 rushing first downs
In recent years, Snyder has been under investigation for allegations of sexual misconduct, enabling a toxic workplace culture and his organization was accused in front of a Congress of financial improprieties. Meanwhile, FedEx Field is now viewed as one of the worst NFL stadiums with Snyder’s presence standing in the way of a publicly-supported deal for a new stadium.
Thanks to the scandals surrounding the franchise and the on-field product – no playoff wins since the 2005 season – attendance has dipped significantly in recent years. While the franchise value has climbed considerably in recent years, it’s entirely due to rising NFL revenue and recent sales of other NFL teams.
- Washington Commanders attendance (2022): 58,106 average attendance per game (32nd in NFL), 85.9 percent average tickets sold (32nd in NFL)
The arrival of a new ownership group is universally viewed around the league as a positive turning point for the Commanders. It will be a significant first step towards a new stadium, provide much-needed organizational credibility and result in renewed support for the team both nationally and locally. Once the new leadership takes over, it should also be an opportunity for a new approach that would drastically change the team’s outlook in 2023 and beyond.
Examining the impact of Lamar Jackson on the Washington Commanders
The Commanders haven’t had a franchise-caliber quarterback in over a decade. Robert Griffin III, the second pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, showed that ability in his rookie season. On his way to winning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and earning a Pro Bowl selection, Washington looked like an emerging power in the NFL.
During that 2012 season, Griffin III led Washington to a 10-6 record and first place in the NFC East. Fans rallied around the team playing well and being led by an emerging NFL star. It culminated in Washington boasting the third-highest average attendance (79,654 per game) in the league and it even ranked ninth in average road attendance (69,058 per game).
Jackson is a far better player than Griffin III was during his lone successful season. Bringing in a former NFL MVP and one of the most popular players in the sport would provide the fan base with proof new ownership wants to build a championship-caliber football team.
It would also mean a great deal to a franchise that once had one of the largest Black fan bases in the NFL. More importantly, though, it would give the region a star to rally around and turn the Commanders into one of the best teams in the NFC.
In terms of fit, Jackson would be walking into an ideal situation. Commanders’ play-caller Eric Bieniemy is one of the best offensive coordinators in the NFL. While Jackson’s skills are different than Patrick Mahomes, Bieniemy is an innovator and could easily create an explosive offense around what Jackson does best.
The supporting cast in Washington is also already in place. Washington’s receiving corps of Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson and Curtis Samuel is among the best in the conference. Combine that with a top-10 defense and it just leaves quarterback as the remaining need.
Obviously, the new ownership group would have to make Jackson one of the highest-paid NFL players ever. While that is a risk given the All-Pro quarterback’s recent durability issue, any deal signed would almost certainly be earned back over the life of the contract.
Washington could offer Jackson a six-year contract worth $300 million, including $240 million guaranteed. It would meet the terms Jackson is seeking and the $50 million average annual value will likely come under upcoming contract extensions for Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert.
Acquiring Jackson and making a long-term commitment to him will directly lead to skyrocketing season-ticket sales, increased stadium revenue and put the Commanders back in the national spotlight. Best of all for the franchise, Jackson joining this well-rounded team will make the Commanders a viable threat to win the NFC and could result in their first Super Bowl appearance since January 1992.
Projecting a potential Lamar Jackson trade to the Commanders
Jackson has already requested a trade this offseason and the Baltimore Ravens are reportedly willing to move him. With the two sides clearly at an impasse, Washington could approach Baltimore about a trade after the 2023 NFL Draft when the new ownership group takes over.
Waiting until after the upcoming draft would also allow the Commanders to put an even stronger team around Jackson. Washington could use its first-round pick on a cornerback like Joey Porter Jr., giving it the shutdown defensive back its secondary is missing. In the second round, the Commanders could select tight end Luke Musgrave to provide Jackson with another playmaker to make this offense even more explosive.
As far as trade negotiations with the Ravens, the Commanders can package first- and second-round picks in consecutive years along with one of their edge rushers for the Pro Bowl quarterback. Considering the limited field of suitors, a deal could be reached that works for both sides long-term.
- Washington Commanders trade: 2024 1st, 2024 2nd, 2025 1st, 2025 2nd, Montez Sweat
- Baltimore Ravens trade: Lamar Jackson
Trading for Jackson will instantly give Washington its new face of the franchise and generate a wave of fan support that this franchise hasn’t experienced in decades. That’s why the new ownership group should go all-in on Jackson, because the upside more than justifies the cost.
This article was originally published on Sportsnaut.com and is republished here with permission.