Cushenberry was immediately inserted into the starting lineup and did not miss a snap for his first two NFL seasons. He has, however, been one of the worst starting centers in the league when he has played over the past two and a half seasons. I have chronicled this in numerous articles (linked below), and I reviewed LC3 after the 2020 season and the 2021 season as well.
Lloyd Cushenberry, C
Experience: 4 years
Weight: 315 lbs
The question for LC3 is whether he has been the weak link or whether his play has been dragged down by playing next to Dalton Risner for the entirety of his career. He should have two very good run-blocking guards playing next to him in 2023 via Quinn Meinerz and Ben Powers - but that might not help him with his high rate of blown blocks.
Cushenberry should also have a head coach and an OLC that have been great at getting career years out of average OL starters.
However you slice it, LC3 has the best situation for his personal success of any of his previous seasons. Should he fail this year, the blame will be completely on him.
He has no excuses this year as he is being placed in a great situation to succeed with a veteran head coach, a veteran QB and now two above-average veteran guards playing next to him.
For Cushenberry, 2023 is sink or swim as I’m guessing that Zach Strief and Sean Payton will have no problem replacing him if his play is as poor as it was in 2020 or 2022. I think they will live with it if he plays at an average level like he did in 2021. In 2022 by PFF ranking (table in article), LC3 was 32nd of the 36 centers who had enough snaps to qualify.
Cushenberry is also playing for a second contract, so his play this season could determine whether he gets a lucrative free agent deal, a veteran minimum deal, or be out of the league. But it is rare for a durable starter like Cushenberry was in his first two seasons to be done in the NFL instead of getting a second contract. Usually low-end durable starters can at least find a role as the veteran backup IOL guy on some NFL roster.