The first weekend of 2021 was memorable for former Burnsville High School football player Chase Roullier, for several reasons.
Roullier, the Washington Football Team’s starting center, is going to the NFL playoffs for the first time in his four-year career. Washington clinched the NFC East championship with a 20-14 victory at Philadelphia on Sunday night and will play Tampa Bay in the wild-card round at 7:15 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 9.
The day before Washington defeated Philadelphia, the team announced it signed Roullier to a four-year contract extension. ESPN reported the deal as being for $19 million guaranteed with the potential for $40.5 million.
“It’s been a long four years of me growing as a player through the help of my teammates and coaches along the way,” Roullier said in a video conference posted on the team’s website.
Roullier would have been a free agent after this season. Washington chose a center in the 2020 draft in what appeared to be a backup plan in case the team didn’t bring back Roullier. He has been a consistent player for a surprise playoff team, starting every game this season. He is rated as the sixth-best center in the NFL by Pro Football Focus, an analytics website.
A sixth-round choice in the 2017 NFL Draft, Roullier became a regular on Washington’s offensive line midway through his rookie season. He became the starting center in 2018 and has missed only three games in the last three seasons.
“Chase has been a steady presence and leader on our offensive line all season. He is a great teammate and does everything the right way,” WFT head coach Ron Rivera said in a statement released by the team. “He was well deserving of an extension and I look forward to continuing to coach him as we work toward sustained success here in Washington.”
Roullier said he can’t allow the new contract to make him complacent. “It’s a league that’s constantly evolving, constantly getting better,” he said. “Guys are always improving, getting smarter, getting faster ... you really need to be a student of the game.”
Roullier, 27, was a multi-sport athlete at Burnsville High, starting as a two-way lineman for the football team for three years and lettering three times in basketball before graduating in 2012. In football, he was first-team All-State and Academic All-State as a senior, and was named South Suburban Conference Lineman of the Year. He went from Burnsville to the University of Wyoming, where he appeared in 48 games over four years and was named first-team all-conference in the Mountain West as a senior.
He’s of two former Burnsville players who could be involved in the NFL playoffs. Kamal Martin, a 2016 Burnsville graduate and former University of Minnesota linebacker, has appeared in 10 games this season for the Green Bay Packers, making six starts. He has 24 tackles, including three for losses and one sack.
Green Bay earned the No. 1 seed in the NFC and received a first-round bye in the playoffs. The Packers will play in the divisional round Jan. 16 or 17.
Jones vs. Jones NBA matchup on hold
Opening night of the NBA season raised an intriguing possibility for fans of local basketball in general and Apple Valley basketball in particular. There was a chance the Jones brothers, Tyus and Tre, key figures in Apple Valley’s run of three state Class 4A championships in five years, would be on the floor at the same time as opponents.
However, that didn’t happen in San Antonio’s 131-119 victory over Memphis on Dec. 23 because Tre Jones didn’t appear in the game. Tre, a rookie guard for San Antonio, has appeared in two of the Spurs’ first six games, playing 10 minutes with 11 points, three rebounds and an assist.
Tyus Jones, a sixth-year NBA player and in his second season with Memphis, is averaging 24.7 minutes, seven points and 4.2 rebounds. He is the backup to starting point guard Ja Morant but is seeing more playing time currently because Morant is out several weeks because of an ankle injury. Tyus Jones has season highs of 14 points in a game against the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday and 12 assists in a game against Charlotte two days earlier.
The next chance of a Jones vs. Jones matchup comes Jan. 30, when Memphis travels to San Antonio.
Both Jones brothers will visit Target Center this month. San Antonio comes to town to play the Timberwolves on Jan. 9 and 10, with Memphis scheduled to face the Wolves on Jan. 13 and 15.