Washington Football Team: How to view the Morgan Moses decision

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 28: Offensive lineman Saahdiq Charles of LSU runs a drill during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 28, 2020 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 28: Offensive lineman Saahdiq Charles of LSU runs a drill during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 28, 2020 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

By one measure, news that the Washington Football Team intends to trade starting right tackle Morgan Moses amounts to this: Washington essentially is swapping Moses for guard Ereck Flowers.

Flowers, who started at left guard for the Washington Football Team in 2019, was acquired last month from Miami in a deal that also included an exchange of seventh-round draft picks. Current wisdom has Moses fetching a fifth-rounder this offseason, so Washington may be a little ahead. However, Flowers’ price tag is several million dollars more than that of Moses, so it comes close to evening out.

By another measure, you might see Morgan Moses as being swapped out for rookie Samuel Cosmi, who may be first in line to take his spot. Cosmi is much younger, and for the next four-five years, much cheaper. If he can produce, this seems like a fairly obvious move.

The fact is, when a team decides to move on from a long-time starter without much forewarning, rumors will swirl, and we are not likely to know the “real” story until much later. Perhaps after a deal is complete, Moses will open up about his time in Washington. More likely, it won’t be for many years – until members of the current management team are retired – that we will really understand what is motivating this decision.

As frustrating as this may be to fans, the fact that we don’t know what is behind this decision is an excellent sign for the health of the franchise.

My initial thought was that this was a cost-cutting move. But even if salary figures into it, there must be more. Moses is scheduled to make $7.7 million dollars this season. That is a very reasonable price to pay for a reliable tackle. But the Washington Football Team has almost $40 million dollars invested in the interior of its line for 2021 (Flowers, Chase Roullier, and Brandon Scherff) – a staggering amount that dwarfs any other team in the NFL.

Moses’ salary may be reasonable, but the three men most likely to compete to take his spot (Cosmi, Cornelius Lucas, and Saahdiq Charles) will account for about half that total combined in 2021. Assuming relatively equal production, getting younger and cheaper along the line is obviously a good thing.

Can the Washington Football Team assume equal, or even better, production? After all, this is not a rebuilding year. Washington is looking to defend the NFC East title.

The most optimistic way to view this news is that it shows genuine trust in some of the young players Washington has acquired in recent drafts. Though initial discussion has focused on Cosmi – with obvious reason – I think this bodes very well for Saahdiq Charles.

After a rookie season that was washed out due to injury, Charles was in line for more attention in 2021. But with no obvious starting spot available, and with the additions of Flowers, Cosmi and Charles Leno Jr. – as well as intriguing free agents Tyler Larsen and Beau Benzschawel, Charles is looking at a lot of competition.

I have always thought that Charles would follow in the footsteps of Scherff. Scherff played tackle in college, and I don’t doubt he could have played the position in the pros. But there was concern about his arm length, which is crucial for tackles who must keep fast, agile edge rushers from beating them to the outside. He moved inside and became an All-Pro.

Charles has a similar athletic profile. When he was drafted, he was just 20 years old. He had some maturing to do and some experience to gain. The experience did not come on the field in 2020, but the team got to know him. They saw his work ethic and his ability to pick up schemes. The Moses news makes it reasonable to assume they like what they saw.

Charles and Cosmi are not the only options. Perhaps the most likely opening day starter is last year’s left tackle, Cornelius Lucas. Lucas has played both sides in his career and profiles to be an excellent swing tackle. Swing tackles want to be starters and we can expect Lucas to perform well on whichever side he lines up.

What complicates this situation is the recent trajectory of Morgan Moses’ career. He seemed to be regressing in 2018 and, playing without friend and long-time line-mate Trent Williams in 2019, Moses’ future seemed in doubt. He had a resurgence in 2020. His pass protection improved and his run blocking was excellent. It was common to see him collapsing the entire right side of the defense at least once a game.

I hoped that this productivity showed that Moses was in good physical health, and with the ugly situation involving Williams in the past, he was in good psychological health as well. He certainly seemed to thrive under the more professional regime of Ron Rivera.

But we never really know what goes on inside the locker room. And quite frankly, as curious as we may be, the fact that we don’t know all the reasons behind this move is a good thing. The Washington Football Team does not need to explain itself. It just has to win games. Bill Belichick walked away from quality veteran after quality veteran in New England with no explanation. The rationale never needed to be spoken. The team thought it could get a younger and cheaper player to do the job.

That is what we are seeing in Washington now. In 2022, the offensive line could feature Cosmi at left tackle, Ereck Flowers at left guard, Chase Roullier at center, with Saahdiq Charles playing one of the two positions on the right. If he can perform at right tackle in 2021, it would be a welcome development.

Next. Three potential landing spots for WFT tackle Morgan Moses. dark

The line will have been turned over. That may be all the explanation we ever need.