When Kory Lichtensteiger walked out of the locker room a day after the Redskins' playoff loss to the Seahawks, a sense of uncertainty hung in the air at the team's headquarters.
He was set to become an unrestricted free agent, and with the team facing an $18 million salary cap penalty for a second straight offseason, there also was the potential for significant roster turnover.
As it turns out, though, the Redskins retained 21 of 22 of their 2012 starters, including Lichtensteiger, who received a five-year contract extension. No team other team managed to maintain as much continuity.
“It’s very important, especially when you feel like you have a good thing going,” the veteran left guard said on Saturday at Redskins Park, where he participated in a Kids Club event. “I was very excited to see, step-by-step, who we were bringing back. It seems like we didn’t really lose too many guys.”
Lichtensteiger was among a group of five core players who were officially brought back the day before free agency opened. Over the next few weeks, he was pleasantly surprised as other Redskins agreed to new deals in Washington. Free safety Madieu Williams, in fact, is only starter who is not under contract for 2013.
“A lot of credit goes to the organization, to Bruce Allen, to Mike Shanahan, to Mr. Snyder, just for being able to bring all those guys back,” Lichtensteiger said. “To work around the salary cap like they have, I don’t think anyone would have expected them to do this well with what they were given to work with.”
“I’m excited that even in a down year – a down year as far as the salary cap – that they still could make the moves they did,” he added.
Bringing back almost all the team’s starters – and many of the key reserves – should give the Redskins a head start once OTAs begin next month. The chemistry that was forged during the team’s seven-game run to the NFC East championship remains intact. And with only a handful of new players to integrate, there will be less learning and more refining.
That, Lichtensteiger said, should help the Redskins pick up where they left off.
“We just have to get our quarterback back and healthy,” he said, referring of course to Robert Griffin III. “But I don’t see any reason why we should expect anything less than last year.”