Redskins' Kory Lichtensteiger makes risk pay off with new deal

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Sports,NFL,Redskins,John Keim

Guard happy to stay in Washington

Kory Lichtensteiger weighed the offers and reached a conclusion. He needed to take a chance. So last offseason he rejected the Redskins' offer of a multiyear deal and accepted a one-year tender.

That's a tough move for a guy coming off multiple ligament tears in his knee.

"I started thinking maybe it's risky," he said. "You go out and hurt your knee and you're done. No one will re-sign you after a second knee injury. I decided to roll the dice and figured it was worth the risk of proceeding."

Sundberg re-signs
Long snapper Nick Sundberg agreed to a four-year deal with the Redskins, taking care of yet another restricted free agent. He's the fourth of six who have either signed or agreed to a contract. Sundberg, who played part of the season-opening win at New Orleans with a broken arm, has provided consistent snaps since winning the job in 2010. And there wasn't much doubt about his return. He joins three other restricted free agents who will return: linebacker Rob Jackson, tight end Logan Paulsen and fullback Darrel Young. That leaves two restricted free agents unsigned: nose tackle Chris Baker and returner Brandon Banks. There's a chance neither will return.

He was rewarded with a five-year deal Saturday night for an undisclosed amount. But it was an offer Lichtensteiger clearly felt was a good one, which is why he bypassed the free agent market to accept it. He started all 16 games after returning from a torn ACL and MCL in his right knee.

The contract represents stability. It also provides a little bit more. When he was hurt in 2011, there was a stipulation in his contract that his pay would get cut if he were placed on injured reserve. So he not only needed surgery and faced an uncertain future, Lichtensteiger also cashed smaller checks.

"I've been grinding for a while, all the while hopeful with the sights set on getting a good deal that was something you could be proud of, something you feel you earned," he said.

And Lichtensteiger earned it by playing every game in 2012 -- following not only the initial surgery but an arthroscopic one shortly after training camp started. It's rare for players to feel 100 percent recovered in their first season back, partly because the bulk of their time has been spent rehabbing and not strengthening the knee. And it takes time to recover.

"I hung in there well," he said. "I felt it at times. I definitely did not always feel 100 percent. They always say the second year feels better and hopefully by the third year you don't notice it at all. That's what I'm hoping.

"I definitely noticed it over a grind of a whole game and season. I could [have felt] more fresh and look better on the field. ... By the end of the year I was like, 'Man, I'm ready to give it time off.' It feels a lot better now because I'm not putting that stress on it on a daily basis. When we do start back up, it will feel that much better."

Playing through that is why his teammates voted him their Ed Block Courage Award winner.

Another obstacle was this: Washington drafted a guard, Josh LeRibeus, in the third round last April, shortly after Lichtensteiger signed his one-year tender.

"When LeRibeus was drafted I was like, 'Oh man,'?" he said. "I said, 'They don't draft someone in the third round without them starting or giving them a significant amount of time.' That made me worried, and then you have this year with the cap issue. It would be too convenient to say we don't want to give him a deal and we have LeRibeus waiting in the wings. ... [But] the whole time they've been loyal to me. I can't complain."

jkeim@washingtonexaminer.com

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