‘Top-of-the-Market’ Edge a Fit for Dan Quinn’s Commanders

Dan Quinn

Getty A "top-of-the-market" free-agent edge-rusher is a fit for Dan Quinn's defense with the Washington Commanders.

Dan Quinn needs a focal point for his pass rush if he’s going to re-energize the Washington Commanders’ pass rush. Head coach Quinn needs general manager Adam Peters to splash the cash and sign “top-of-the-market” edge Josh Allen in 2024 NFL free agency.

Allen is a marquee free agent after logging 17.5 sacks for the Jacksonville Jaguars last season. He can play a role similar to the one Micah Parsons occupied for Quinn and new Commanders’ defensive coordinator Joe Whitt Jr. with the Dallas Cowboys.

That’s according to Dan Pizzuta of The 33rd Team. He knows “Allen can move around the formation as Parsons did and use speed off the line to wreak havoc on opposing offenses.”

Comparisons to an All-Pro like Parsons are tough to live up to, and “Allen won’t be Parsons, but he’s not as far away as expected.” Pizzuta also envisages the Commanders restoring a “dangerous defensive front” by combining Allen with D-tackles Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne.

However the new defensive front looks, Quinn and Whitt need more pressure to boost a sluggish pass rush rendered moot after Chase Young and Montez Sweat were traded.

Josh Allen Can Replace Chase Young, Montez Sweat

Dealing Young to the San Francisco 49ers and Sweat to the Chicago Bears during the season naturally left a void the Commanders couldn’t fill. Two former seventh-round draft picks, Casey Toohill and James Smith-Williams, attempted to pick up the slack, but “both are scheduled to be free agents,” per Pizzuta.

Toohill might return after recording five sacks and eight pressures. The former Stanford man has experience as an outside linebacker and defensive end, so he could handle the roving brief Quinn gave the Parsons in Dallas.

Trusting Toohill would be a risk, but it’s one the Commanders don’t need to take. Not when Peters is projected by Spotrac.com to have a league-leading $83,543,548 worth of space under the salary cap.

The Commanders would be better off using some of that money to bring Allen to FedEx Field. He showcased the kind of flair for getting after quarterbacks Quinn and Whitt’s scheme needs.

Plays like these mean the Jags are likely to push hard to keep Allen. Peters’ counterpart in the AFC South, Trent Baalke, has already made his intentions clear.

Baalke offered an emphatic, “Josh Allen’s going to be a Jaguar next year” statement when asked about the outside linebacker’s future back in January, per NFL Network’s Andrew Siciliano.

The Commanders are one of the few teams in the NFL with enough resources to outbid the Jaguars for Allen’s services. Quinn ought to want Peters to try, based on how important a roving pass-rusher is to this defensive system.

Dan Quinn Needs a New Micah Parsons

Quinn’s search for a new Parsons needn’t focus solely on Allen. There are other intriguing options in this year’s free-agency class.

Those options include a versatile edge-rusher coming off a career year for the New York Jets. Whichever direction they go, Quinn and Whitt know the Commanders need to wreck the pocket more often in 2024.

Whitt made it clear during his introductory press conference this defense will “arrive violently and turn the ball over and disrupt these quarterbacks,” per ESPN’s John Keim.

Putting Allen on the edge of a multiple front will help Whitt generate pressure without going blitz happy. Quinn would also add ways to keep Allen moving along the line of scrimmage to exploit favorable matchups against weak blockers.

That level of creativity was missing under Quinn and Whitt’s predecessors, Ron Rivera and Jack Del Rio. A new scheme can help, but boosting talent with a free agent like Allen will be the key to fielding a more disruptive defense.

Read More