As the early part of the offseason got underway, the Redskins had two possible options for a player to back up starting center Spencer Long. One was Kory Lichtensteiger but in early February the veteran decided to retire. The other was John Sullivan, the longtime Vikings center who joined the Redskins as their backup last season after Lichtensteiger went on injured reserve in Week 4.
Now Sullivan is off the board. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Media, Sullivan will join former Redskins offensive coordinator Sean McVay with the Rams. Sullivan visited the Rams last month and this reported move seemed to be a matter of when it would happen and not if.
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The Rams needed someone who could start at center for them. They cut Tim Barnes, who started for them last year. They wanted to replace him with restricted free agent Ryan Groy but the Bills matched the Los Angeles offer sheet.
The Sullivan signing works out well for both parties. Sullivan goes to a spot where the starts out on the top of the depth chart instead of waiting for an opportunity. And McVay gets someone who is familiar with his offense working in the middle of the O-line.
Meanwhile, the Redskins are in search of a backup center. In a pinch, they could move Shawn Lauvao to center and insert Arie Kouandjio at guard. But after watching converted guard Josh LeRibeus spray shotgun snaps all over the place when he filled in for an injured Lichtensteiger in 2015, Jay Gruden prefers to have an actual center as the backup.
Right now, the pickings are slim. The top free agent center on the market is former Jets All-Pro Nick Mangold. But even though he is getting up there in years at age 33 he is looking for a starting job and he may well be able to get one.
That will leave the Redskins looking to the draft or possibly the free agent market that usually develops after the draft as teams shed veterans they replaced with picks in the draft.
It is a situation that could linger into training camp, another time that teams move on from big salaries. The Vikings didn’t cut Sullivan until August 30 last year so there is plenty of time to identify and sign a prospect.