ASHBURN — The Redskins acquired center Bryan Stork from the New England Patriots for a conditional seventh-round draft pick, multiple team sources told 106.7 The Fan on Wednesday – but not before he threatened retirement after learning the news.
The Patriots had planned to release Stork and told him so on Wednesday morning. A fourth-round pick in 2014 from Florida State, Stork started 21 games for New England and appeared in 25. But he also opened last season on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list thanks to lingering concussion symptoms. His agent, Hadley Engelhard, did not respond to a text message asking for comment.
Stork fell behind in the fight for the Patriots’ center job to David Andrews, who started the first 10 games of last year, after again missing a week this summer following a concussion.
He’s also not exactly a shrinking violet. Stork threw punches during a melee with the Chicago Bears last Tuesday at a joint practice. Patriots coach Bill Belichick tossed Stork from practice. Andrews had been the first-team center since early in camp after Stork’s latest concussion – the fourth documented one of his NFL career.
Whatever the reason, Redskins officials had to figure out if Stork’s initial reaction was just an off-the-cuff decision or if he was determined to go through with retirement. The trade was first reported by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport at 2:46 p.m. on Wednesday. Within an hour team sources confirmed to 106.7 The Fan that Stork was thinking about retiring from the sport.
Stork, of course – provided that he actually reports to the team – is now in immediate competition with second-team center Spencer Long, who has primarily been playing left guard, too, with the starters. Long and veteran Shawn Lauvao have traded on-and-off there for most of preseason practice – though Long seems to have the edge after starting the first two preseason games.
Lauvao is trying to return from torn left ankle ligaments and five surgeries last fall and winter on both that injury and a chronically sore right foot. Austin Reiter, a seventh-round pick in 2015, is the third-string center and has played well at times against lesser competition in camp.
But at 25, Stork would at some point pose a threat to starting center Kory Lichtensteiger, too. He is now 31 and missed 11 games last season with a compressed disc in his neck. But that’s only if Stork can stay healthy, himself.
And replacing Lichtensteiger at this point in training camp isn’t realistic. It’s unlikely Stork is picking up the blocking schemes and playbook in just over two weeks before the season begins Sept. 12 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Redskins hoped to upgrade at center during the draft. A potential pick was Alabama center Ryan Kelly, who went at No. 18 to the Indianapolis Colts. Washington, which had the No. 21 pick, traded down one spot shortly after Kelly went off the board.
Lichtensteiger, who came out of the first preseason game against Atlanta with a sore arm, was quickly back practicing. His contract expires at the end of the season, but there’s no reason to believe he’s in danger of being cut. He’s worked with the starters since the beginning of OTAs and neither Long, Reiter nor Josh LeRibeus has challenged Lichtensteiger this summer.
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