ASHBURN, Va. -- The Washington Redskins might have just landed their starting center. If they didn’t, it will only cost them a possible seventh-round draft pick to find out. Then again, he might retire before they even have the chance to see.
The Redskins traded a conditional seventh-round pick to New England for center Bryan Stork, whom the Patriots were going to release. A team source said they view Stork as a possible starter -- perhaps soon -- if all works out. However, Stork also is mulling retirement.
But the move -- or possible move -- still suggests a few things from a Redskins perspective:
The Redskins have been looking to upgrade at center for a while -- there’s a good chance they would have picked Alabama’s Ryan Kelly had he been available for them in the first round. But the free-agent options weren’t attractive, and they decided to roll with what they had: veteran Kory Lichtensteiger. They also spent the offseason working with guard Spencer Long learning center. There’s also Josh LeRibeus, who was the fourth center throughout camp, and second-year player Austin Reiter.
But it's clear the Redskins weren’t happy with the position, at least not enough to continue with what they have. Lichtensteiger is coming off nerve damage in his shoulder last season. The reality for the Redskins is that Lichtensteiger is 31 years old, only 295 pounds and would save them $3.3 million in cap space if cut. He's also routinely praised for how he handles the position. Still, the negatives could work against him if the Redskins view Stork as ready (and if he shows up). He would definitely add more size in the middle at 6-foot-4 and 315 pounds. If Stork doesn’t want to play anymore, the Redskins can continue with Lichtensteiger -- taking the same if-there’s-nothing-better approach they’ve used all offseason.
Earlier Wednesday, Redskins coach Jay Gruden said Long was developing nicely at center. But if that were truly the case, then he could be a future starter at the position --- and there’s no need to trade for anyone. The same is true if they viewed Reiter as being ready any time soon. With Long, from the beginning of this experiment at center, some in the organization viewed him as much better-suited to guard. And Long still might end up being the starting left guard anyway. But the Redskins wanted him to be only an emergency center anyway, something that would remain true if Stork decides to play.
It might not matter, but Stork does have starting experience. He started 17 games, including New England’s Super Bowl win over Seattle two years ago. But he was limited to eight starts last season because of a concussion -- and that leads to the biggest issue and perhaps the reason for a possible retirement. Stork has been diagnosed with four concussions in the past four years, dating to his time at Florida State.
His temper also has led to problems, though not in a game. Stork was ejected from practice twice this offseason for fighting with a teammate, and it happened again in training camp. He also was kicked out of a joint practice with Chicago. Patriots coach Bill Belichick has a strict rule about ejecting players for fighting in practice.