With new faces entering and reliable veterans departing, making sense of Washington’s offensive line situation can be challenging.
When quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick takes his first snap with the Washington Football Team against the Chargers to open the 2021 NFL regular season, there’s a multitude of offensive line combinations that could line up in front of him.
With the release of seven-year veteran tackle Morgan Moses that captured the headlines earlier this week, experts and fans alike have been trying their hand at projecting who will take the field week one for the burgundy and gold to protect the 38 year-old journeyman.
To simplify that process, here’s a tiered look at each offensive lineman currently on the roster (per the WFT website) by job security, where they fit, and a few possible combinations Washington could roll into the season with.
- G Brandon Scherff
- C Chase Roullier
*Scherff was hit with the franchise tag this offseason. He’ll earn $18 million for his efforts in 2021, then will likely find a new home afterwards. The perennial all-pro will anchor an offensive line that’ll likely be riddled with a relatively low level of NFL experience.
*Roullier signed a four-year, $40.5 million extension with Washington prior to the end of last season. As a clear part of head coach Ron Rivera’s plan moving forward, he enters 2021 as one of the premier centers in the league. He’s a long-term cornerstone piece at a typically overlooked position.
- T Charles Leno Jr.
- G Ereck Flowers
- T Sam Cosmi
*Leno Jr. joined the team via free agency after serving as the starting left tackle in Chicago for the last six years. He’ll enter week one as the blindside protector of Fitzpatrick, but not without plenty of competition from Cornelius Lucas, who performed quite well at the position after overtaking the starting role early in the season.
*Flowers — who returns to Washington via trade after a stint with the Dolphins — is currently listed as a tackle on the team’s official roster. This isn’t expected to remain the case, especially after the team’s acquisitions of Leno Jr. and Cosmi. He’ll slide inside and bring a more athletic presence to the guard position opposite of Scherff.
*Cosmi was selected in the second round of this year’s draft and will likely make the move to the right side after starting at left tackle throughout his time at Texas. As one can conclude from the team’s recent moves, Rivera wants the rookie to play sooner rather than later. He’ll get the trial-by-fire treatment and potentially take the field opening day as the team’s starting right tackle.
- T Cornelius Lucas
- G Wes Schweitzer
- G Saahdiq Charles
*Lucas proved his worth in the early stages of last season after overtaking the starting left tackle role from Geron Christian. Due to his experience at both tackle spots, he’ll have no problem finding his way into an ideal role to fit his strengths within a now very deep offensive line rotation.
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*Schweitzer was acquired via trade from the Falcons prior to the 2020 season. After initially serving as the backup to Wes Martin, he followed Lucas’ footsteps and earned the starting job midway through the campaign. He’ll be a more than capable backup and healthy supplier of competition for the unit.
*Charles — despite playing only two snaps in 2020 — still holds a lot of support from Washington’s coaching staff. With superb athleticism and an ideal frame, he’ll have every opportunity to showcase his abilities in game situations this season. If he doesn’t perform, he could find himself in a lower tier going into 2022.
- C Keith Ismael
- T David Sharpe
- G Wes Martin
*Ismael was a mid-round draft pick by Washington in last year’s draft. After being brought into action a handful of times this past season, he’ll serve strictly as Roullier’s backup — and will need a solid training camp to keep that role.
*Sharpe will compete to bring depth to a tackle position that has quickly become one of the deepest on the roster. What he’s shown in games so far in his career has been less than promising, but if he can prove to be serviceable, he’ll have a chance at making the final 53.
*Martin is truly on the cusp of being cut prior to the 2021 season. If doesn’t have a stellar camp and regain the confidence of his coaching staff, the decision will become that much easier for Rivera and company. This will be an intriguing storyline to keep an eye on as camp progresses.
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- C Tyler Larsen
- G Beau Benzschawel
- T Rick Leonard
- T David Steinmetz
With these tiers in mind, here are a few possible combinations Washington could enter week one with on the offensive line, starting with the most likely scenario and descending to the least likely (but still realistic) scenario:
- LT Charles Leno Jr., LG Ereck Flowers, C Chase Roullier, RG Brandon Scherff, RT Sam Cosmi
- LT Charles Leno Jr., LG Ereck Flowers, C Chase Roullier, RG Brandon Scherff, RT Cornelius Lucas
- LT Charles Leno Jr., LG Saahdiq Charles, C Chase Roullier, RG Brandon Scherff, RT Cornelius Lucas
- LT Charles Leno Jr., LG Saahdiq Charles, C Chase Roullier, RG Brandon Scherff, RT Sam Cosmi
- LT Cornelius Lucas, LG Ereck Flowers, C Chase Roullier, RG Brandon Scherff, RT Sam Cosmi
*The first four scenarios anchor Leno Jr. at the left tackle spot, as he’s expected to win the job in training camp.
*Cornelius Lucas makes an appearance in two of the scenarios at right tackle. This would happen in the event the coaching staff doesn’t deem Cosmi prepared to take on the role right away.
*Saahdiq Charles is included in two of the scenarios at left guard. He’ll have a greater chance of winning the starting job than Wes Schweitzer, but will have to clearly outperform Flowers — which is a tough task.
*Roullier and Scherff are the starters at their respective positions in every scenario.
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