After being relegated to second-team duties during the preseason, it’s become clear that Antonio Gibson is falling out of favor with the Washington Commanders.
Washington’s coaching staff had a short hook with the third-year back after he lost a fumble in the team’s preseason opener. That came after Gibson put the ball on the turf six times as a sophomore in 2021. It’s just not going to cut it for a staff led by the old-school Ron Rivera.
In Washington’s second preseason game, Gibson ran the ball a mere two times for three yards. He was behind rookie third-round pick Brian Robinson on the depth chart. With third-down back J.D. McKissic on the Commanders’ roster, there’s a chance Gibson will open Week 1 against the Jacksonville Jaguars No. 3 on Washington’s depth chart.
This has led to some speculation that the Commanders might simply bite the bullet and opt to trade Gibson before the regular season gets going. Below, we look at three natural fits for the still-talented young back.
Young running back gets fresh start with the Cleveland Browns
We previously broached the subject of Washington trading for Browns star running back Kareem Hunt. The veteran is not too happy about his current contract and requested a trade earlier in training camp. He’d actually be perfect fit with the Commanders given the fact that Hunt can catch the ball to an extent and has been sure-handed when it comes to fumbles than Gibson throughout his career.
For the Commanders, swapping out Gibson and a mid-round pick would make a ton of sense. Hunt could come in as RB1 with Carson Wentz in the backfield. Robinson would take over short-yardage duties with McKissic as the third-down back.
Now, the question is obvious from Cleveland’s perspective. Why would the team do this? Well, it’s simple. Hunt is entering his contract year and likely won’t return with Nick Chubb as the Browns’ top dog. Gibson would come in and handle pass-heavy opportunities, providing Jacoby Brissett with another receiving weapon until Deshaun Watson returns from suspension.
Los Angeles Rams add Antonio Gibson to the mix
Both Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson are currently sidelined to injury. This leaves Los Angeles extremely short-handed as the defending champs prepare for their Week 1 game against the Buffalo Bills. As for Akers, he missed all but one game a season ago to an Achilles’ injury. Can the Rams rely on him to stay healthy? It’s an open question.
Even if Akers and Henderson are in the mix this season, getting a catch-first back in Gibson would set the Rams up for success moving forward. Gibson has caught 78-of-96 targets (81.3%) in his first two NFL seasons. Imagine him getting it right while working with Matthew Stafford.
New England Patriots find themselves dual-threat back
The struggles of rising second-year quarterback Mac Jones this summer might put the onus on head coach Bill Belichick and Co. finding more of a balance on offense heading into Week 1. Right now, Damien Harris is listed as RB1 on the Patriots’ depth chart. But there’s some thought that he could be traded before New England breaks camp.
If so, an impressive Rhamondre Stevenson would take over as the Pats’ top dog without much behind him on the depth chart. Given his dual-threat ability, Gibson would be a perfect fit in the Pats’ offense. Remember, this team has relied a lot on running backs who can catch the ball during the Belichick era.
- Antonio Gibson stats (2020-21): 1,832 rushing yards, 78 catches, 541 yards, 2,373 total yards, 21 TD
Whether Washington would have interest in Harris remains to be seen. He is your typical back that Ron Rivera likes to feature and would team up with fellow former Alabama standout Brian Robinson to form a nice pairing. If not, the Commanders could demand draft pick compensation in return.