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UPDATED Free agency: Commanders continue to re-sign their own with swing tackle Cornelius Lucas rejoining the team on a 2-year contract

We have contract details!

Washington Football Team v Buffalo Bills Photo by Bryan Bennett/Getty Images

UPDATE

Over the Cap has now published details of Cornelius Lucas’ new contract with the Commanders. The swing tackle’s actual deal is quite a bit less than the reported $8.2m value.

This is basically a one-year deal with a team option for a 2nd year, as Year 2 has no guaranteed money.

Source: Over the Cap

The $3.2m average on this contract is much more in line with expectations than the $4.1m average announced by the player’s agent last week. Lucas’ first contract with Washington was 2 years, $3.7m, so this new contract is a nice pay increase, but the structure of the deal is very team friendly.

Interestingly, Over the Cap has a feature available called “NFL Player Valuation”. It starts with the ‘position’ value, and then increases or decreases that number based on player performance measures to establish “Player Value”.

OTC then compares the calculated Player Valuer against the APY of that player’s current contract.

For 2021, OTC assessed Cornelius Lucas’ value at $5.2m, and, since he had an APY of $1.9m last year, they calculated his “Value Over APY” at $3.3m for the 2021 season — the 9th highest on the team (unsurprisingly, Taylor Heinicke was #1 with a Value Over APY of $16.191m; Terry was #2. Scherff was last at <$13.57m>).

Even with the pay increase in the new contract, this metric from OTC says that Lucas as the team’s swing tackle offers good value.

I think fans, who were generally happy with this signing when it was announced last week, should be even happier with the slighly more economical contract.

The Commanders get to maintain some consistency at the OT position, and the 31-year-old Lucas gets to keep playing football.

INITIAL REPORT

The preliminary reports have been swirling for a couple of days that the Commanders were engaged in talks with veteran swing tackle Cornelius Lucas to re-sign with Washington to help fill out the OL depth chart. Today, it’s official. He’s back.

It’s been widely reported on Twitter that Lucas’ deal is for 2 years and $8.2m; the source for those numbers is his agent.

While I’m not going to say this isn’t a true number, my guess is that this is not really a $4.1m APY deal; rather, I suspect it includes bonuses for starts and/or snap counts that mean Lucas can earn more if he plays more. Lucas’ last contract with the team was a 2-year deal worth $3.7m total. His cap hit in 2021 was $2m. I find it hard to believe that the team more than doubled his salary when he will be expected to backup starting left tackle Charles Leno and presumed starting right tackle, 2nd year player Sam Cosmi.

Lucas said that he had gotten interest from other teams, but that only Washington “came through”.

Lucas is 31 years old and is an 8th year veteran. He was signed by Washington as a free agent in 2020 after entering the NFL in 2014.

Lucas finished the 2020 season as Washington’s starting left tackle, after he replaced Geron Christian, who was benched for poor play and later released. Lucas was a journeyman OT who had been on 4 different NFL teams before joining Washington, and who had previously played primarily on the right side. He did a competent job in 2020, with the 14th highest pass blocking grade from PFF and the 23rd best overall offensive grade.


Related articles from 2021:

Washington Offensive Tackle Cornelius Lucas is Furious With the Media

Cornelius Lucas deserves more respect


Some analysts suggested that Lucas benefited from Washington’s offensive scheme, which put a premium on the quick short passing game that integrated backs and tight ends. Quick releases and shallow depth-of-target meant that Washington’s offensive line wasn’t asked to do as much to succeed as other OLs that were part of passing schemes that attacked deeper downfield more consistently.

Wherever the truth lies, Washington’s coaching staff clearly felt that they needed to upgrade. They signed Charles Leno, a 29-year-old veteran left tackle from the Bears, to replace Lucas last year. This was not unfamiliar territory for Lucas, who had been Leno’s teammate in 2019 when they spent much of the season in Chicago holding down the left and right sides of the Bears offensive line.

The Washington Football Team opened the 2021 season with Leno at left tackle and rookie Sam Cosmi at right tackle. When Cosmi was injured in Week 4, Lucas was the ‘next man up’, and he ended up playing significant snaps at RT in 9 games last year. All told, he played 587 offensive snaps — a lot more than your typical backup.

After earning a career-high PFF grade of 78.9 in 2020, Lucas’ grade fell off slightly in 2021 to 75.2. Still, it was the third consecutive rating of 72+ for the swing tackle.

Regardless of his PFF grades, the Washington coaches — head coach Ron Rivera, offensive coordinator Scott Turner, and, perhaps most importantly, OL position coach John Matsko — clearly like what they’ve seen from Lucas.

His return will mean that the team has the same group of tackles as last year, helping maintain the consistency that is so important to offensive line play.

I imagine most Washington fans will see this roster move in a very positive light.

Updated depth chart