The retirement of Kory Lichtensteiger will save the Redskins some salary cap money but it could leave them in search of a backup center.
The veteran offensive lineman was on the last year of a five-year, $15.5 million contract he signed in 2013. He was due to make $3.25 million in base salary plus up to $250,000 in roster bonuses. That adds up to $3.5 million in cap savings. There will be a $550,000 dead cap hit from the transaction.
Technically the Redskins could try to collect the $550,000 in prorated bonus since he retired voluntarily. But the contract he signed four years ago was very team friendly and it seems unlikely that the team will put in a claim to get it back.
The retirement means that the Redskins have about $65 million in available salary cap space for the coming season.
Lichtensteiger established himself as the starter at left guard in 2010 and he switched to center in 2014. Injuries started to catch up to him in 2015, when he went on injured reserve with a disc problem in his neck. He was activated for and started the Redskins’ playoff game that season. Last year he suffered a strained calf in Week 4 and went on IR again. He was activated in Week 14 as a backup but he did not play.
The Redskins likely were going to take a hard look at Lichtensteiger’s salary in any case and decide if $3.5 million was too much for a player who has spent much more time rehabbing injuries than being available to play in recent seasons. His retirement makes that decision easy.
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But Lichtensteiger’s departure leaves the team without a backup center under contract. The Redskins signed veteran John Sullivan after Lichtensteiger was put on IR. Sullivan is a free agent and with Spencer Long entrenched as the Redskins’ starting center he could go looking for a better opportunity elsewhere.
The Redskins do have plenty of time to figure out a solution at backup center and, as noted above, plenty of cap money.