- John Keim, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Washington Redskins made a non-surprising move, releasing veteran guard Chris Chester to save themselves $4 million in cap space. One question initially was: Why did Chester stick around last season? The easy answer is this: The Redskins did not have a better alternative. You can bash him all you want, but the organization -- and those paid to study players -- did not think he played that poorly in 2013. Plus, the Redskins lacked a legitimate replacement, sort of a key component.
So here is a quick assessment on the possible replacements:
Spencer Long: Has to be the odds-on favorite. The Redskins drafted him to fit the sort of run scheme they’re now going to employ. He’s big, physical and can pull -- it’s what he did at Nebraska. Also, the coaches like his smarts and attention to detail. I know some around the league feel he’s a perfect fit for what the Redskins want under line coach Bill Callahan, especially when paired with rookie Brandon Scherff. It would make for an inexperienced right side but a potentially powerful one as well. I think Long's progression made the Chester move unsurprising -- the Redskins did not think he was ready to start by season’s end but that he was clearly headed in that direction. For what it’s worth, Long worked with the No. 2 team at right guard Tuesday. He'll still have to earn the job, but he'd be my first choice.
Josh LeRibeus: The team considers him an athletic player and he does have ability, but the head coach, general manager and line coach all are different from the time LeRibeus was drafted. In other words, the current group has little invested in him. He has spent more time at left guard. LeRibeus really hurt himself with his first offseason weight gain; it set his career back. Had he not done that, he might be the starting left guard now instead of Shawn Lauvao.
Morgan Moses: A team official said he thought Moses could shift inside from tackle, and Moses said Tuesday he could do it. But here’s a key point: He also said they haven’t talked to him about doing so. Oh, and he’s coming off a Lisfranc injury that might keep him out until training camp. To recap: He would be asked to switch positions without having worked at it until camp. Also, one concern from people I’ve spoken with in the NFL about him making such a move is this: short-area quickness and his length. Moses has a good build for an offensive tackle -- his arms are two inches longer than Scherff’s, for example (relax, not saying this means Scherff can’t play the position). Moses can play more patient on the outside; that’s tough to do inside, and there is doubt by some who know him well that he could make the transition. Also, I’d rather keep him at tackle anyway. He could end up being a solid swing tackle if nothing else.
Arie Kouandjio: He played left guard at Alabama, but he is a powerful guy. However, while most teams prefer their young linemen to learn multiple spots, it also takes time for them to get a comfort level at one. I can’t imagine Kouandjio would be a factor in this discussion. If he is, then the Redskins found a heck of a gem in the fourth round earlier this month.
2hJohn Keim and Adam Caplan