3:03pm: Chester has officially hit the open market, with Washington formally announcing in a press release that the team has released the veteran guard.
9:46am: Washington has decided to make a change on its offensive line, according to Adam Caplan of ESPN.com, who reports (via Twitter) that the club will release veteran guard Chris Chester. The move isn’t official yet, but when the team does formally announce it, Chester will become a free agent immediately without having to pass through waivers.
Chester, 32, signed a five-year, $20MM deal with Washington before the 2011 season, and has started every game the team has played since then, at right guard. While Chester hasn’t been consistently above-average at the position, he hasn’t been a major liability either. In 2014, he played the eighth-most offensive snaps among guards (1,091), and ranked 33rd among 78 qualified players, according to Pro Football Focus’ grades (subscription required).
While Chester’s performance likely would have secured him a roster spot if he were on a rookie contract, his rising cap number looks like Washington’s primary motive for cutting him. Chester had been on track to count for $4.8MM against the club’s cap this year, and releasing him will create $4MM in cap savings.
With Chester out of the mix, Spencer Long looks like the favorite to start at right guard for Washington to open the regular season, though other players – including fourth-round pick Arie Kouandjio – could challenge for playing time this summer.