The Washington Commanders will not use the franchise tag on veteran guard Brandon Scherff for a third consecutive season and he's "unlikely to return" as a free agent, according to Ben Standig of The Athletic.
Washington general manager Martin Mayhew said in January that the team did everything in its power to re-sign Scherff, though he somewhat softened those comments earlier in March:
Washington will have its fair share of free agents to consider re-signing, alongside its very non-secretive search for a new quarterback. Running back J.D. McKissic, free safety Bobby McCain, tight end Ricky Seals-Jones, wide receiver Cam Sims, cornerback Danny Johnson, kick returner DeAndre Carter, offensive tackle Cornelius Lucas and defensive tackle Tim Settle are all free agents.
The team also has to decide the future of Landon Collins and is "working to renegotiate" the final three years of his deal. And standout wide receiver Terry McLaurin is eligible for a contract extension.
Losing Scherff would be a tough blow. He was a part of a Washington offensive line that ranked sixth in Pro Football Focus' end-of-season rankings in 2021, with the five-time Pro Bowler and 2020 first-team All-Pro selection serving as a key member of that unit.
That solid offensive line, talented young playmakers in McLaurin and running back Antonio Gibson and a solid defense comprise Washington's pitch to available veteran quarterbacks.
And even if Scherff departs, Washington head coach Ron Rivera said he has confidence in the offensive line going forward.
"I do, just because of the fact of what happened during the season with the number of injuries we had and the guys that had to step up and play," he told reporters in early March.
Still, finding a way to retain Scherff would be ideal. After two consecutive franchise tags and a failure to work out a long-term deal in the past, however, that feels very unlikely.