Reporting David Elfin
Right tackle Tyler Polumbus has been through enough in his five years in the NFL not to flinch when his team signed two players at his position while he remained a man without a contract.
Before free agency began on Mar. 12, the Redskins signed Tony Pashos, who started four seasons for Baltimore, San Francisco and Cleveland. A week later, Washington added Jeremy Trueblood, a five-year starter for Tampa Bay.
The starting scorecard reads: Trueblood 84, Pashos 70, Polumbus 34.
Knowing all that, Polumbus still re-signed with the Redskins 10 days ago despite having been tempted to jump to Jacksonville during his positive visit to the Jaguars.
“It became a different situation after the Redskins signed those guys and the way the Jaguars treated me and made me feel wanted,” Polumbus said in an exclusive interview. “I knew a bunch of those coaches from Denver and Seattle, but ultimately I just felt so comfortable playing for Coach [Mike] Shanahan and [offensive line coach Chris] Foerster that I re-signed.”
Polumbus, who made Shanahan’s Denver roster as an undrafted rookie out of Colorado in 2008, started eight games for the Broncos in 2009 before being released the following August. The 6-foot-8, 305-pound Polumbus was picked up by Detroit but was traded to Seattle six days later. He started seven games for the Seahawks in 2010, but he was cut the following October.
The Redskins signed him two weeks later. He started four games down the stretch and when Jammal Brown’s hip didn’t respond to extensive treatment last offseason, Polumbus became a regular.
“It was my best year,” said Polumbus, who’ll be 28 next month. “I started from the first game to the last game [other than Week 16 when he was held out following a concussion the previous Sunday]. I’m really proud that we won the NFC East and led the league in rushing. And now the five of us up front are all coming back.”
That’s because left guard Kory Lichtensteiger, who also began his career under Shanahan in Denver, re-signed before Polumbus did.
“I want to get better at certain things this year,” Polumbus said. “The main thing is keeping my guy off the quarterback.”
Indeed, Polumbus was better at opening holes for running back Alfred Morris in Shanahan’s zone-blocking scheme than he was, at times, in pass-blocking for quarterback Robert Griffin III.
So instead of Maurice Hurt, who was drafted as guard in the seventh round in 2011, and Tom Compton, who didn’t play as a rookie after being selected in the sixth round in 2012, Polumbus now faces serious competition from Trueblood, who’ll be 30 in May and who missed the final seven games of last season with a shoulder injury and from the 32-year-old Pashos.
“The best guy plays,” Shanahan said at last week’s NFL meetings.
Trueblood and Pashos have more extensive resumes and the latter spent two years with Foerster in Baltimore, but neither has played for Shanahan. Pashos also played alongside Redskins right guard Chris Chester on the 2006 Ravens, but Polumbus lined up next to him during Washington’s past 20 games, including the wild card contest.
“Chris and I have really good chemistry,” Polumbus said. “As a group, we get along well and play well together. After all the experience I got last season, I think I’ll be the best right tackle I can be this season.”
The Redskins haven’t been able to spend large because of the $18 million salary cap punishment levied by the NFL, but at the position that was their biggest question mark on offense, they now have three viable options, which puts them in a better place than they were in 2012.
David Elfin began writing about sports when he was a junior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School. He is Washington’s representative on the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee and the author of seven books, most recently, “Washington Redskins: The Complete Illustrated History.” A pre-game regular on 106.7-The Fan the last three Redskins seasons, he has been its columnist since March 2011. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidElfin