2010 NFL Free Agent Offensive LinemenBy: Roshan Bhagat
Age as of 9/1/10. All free agents listed here are done so with an optimistic outlook that a new CBA will be agreed upon. Accordingly, only four accrued seasons are necessary to obtain an Unrestricted Free Agency status on this list.
Jahri Evans, New Orleans Saints (27)
Jahri Evans is continuing to grade out as the team’s best run-blocking linemen week after week. The Saints have done a nice job of efficiently running the ball through the middle and on the right side of the line. His continual high level of play and positive, team-first attitude should translate to a high-end offensive guard contract at year’s end. Expect the Saints, who have nothing but positive things to say towards Evans, to richly reward him for his hard work and production.
Logan Mankins, New England Patriots (28)
Logan Mankins has been a very consistent player for the Patriots since he was drafted, starting all 77 games. That type of consistency is difficult to match, but with free agency inflating the value of offensive guards, the Patriots may end up letting him walk if the price isn’t right. They drafted a couple interior linemen last year and have to use some of their free money to re-sign other players. From what Mankins has said, he wants to stay on this winning franchise, but he could be one of the top players available next offseason.
Marcus McNeill, San Diego Chargers (26)
McNeill isn’t playing at an elite level this year, but is still an above average left tackle. He’s one of the “bigger” names at the left tackle position thanks to his spectacular and deservedly-hyped rookie season. McNeill has also been undercompensated the last few years playing on his rookie contract as a 2nd round pick, which may incline him to ask for more money than he “deserves.” Any of the Chargers could feasibly be had this offseason and McNeill is no different, but with some of the offensive line woes of the Chargers, McNeill may be one of their top priorities. His long-term neck and back problems could be in the back of the team’s mind as well.
Willie Colon, Pittsburgh Steelers (27)
After catching a lot of heat after last season’s wildly inconsistent performance, Willie Colon has done a fine job at right tackle for the Steelers. He’s done a nice job keeping Roethlisberger clean and turned in one of the better seasons for a right tackle in pass protections this year. Though Colon hasn’t been able to blow people off the snap in run-blocking, he’s done an average job for a line that has done a nice job allowing Mendenhall to become a good, young runner.
Jared Gaither, Baltimore Ravens (24) – Restricted FADonald Penn, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (27)
After being taken off the field on a stretcher in New England, Gaither luckily suffered no season or career threatening injury. His return to the field has helped the Ravens a little, but never really regained his level of play prior to the hit. The offensive line, Gaither included, has been one of many reasons for the team’s downhill turn. Still, with him on one side and impressive rookie Michael Oher on the other, the Ravens have found their bookend tackles. Even if the team and Gaither can’t settle on a long-term deal this offseason, they still have the ability to put a tender on him. At the very least, it would force teams to give up serious compensation for his services. Gaither’s length and athleticism are the ideal mold of a modern day left tackle.
Penn is one of the more underrated left tackles in football today and will be one of many talented offensive linemen set to become unrestricted free agents this year. While Penn hasn’t had his best season this year, he has proven in the pass to be one of truly balanced left tackles. Penn has done a nice job in the past of keeping the blindside clean of pressure and the Buccaneers have done a nice job this year running over left tackle. The Buccaneers should try to re-sign him quickly because a young left tackle on the market may see some high-end coin.
Jermon Bushrod, New Orleans Saints (26) – Restricted FA
The Saints called upon Jermon Bushrod to play left tackle the entire year after placing Jammal Brown to the IR due to a hip injury and a sports hernia. Bushrod has done a commendable job replacing the All-Pro Brown, who has a voidable contract at the end of this season. If Brown decides to become a free agent, the Saints would have an interesting choice. Brown will be coming off an injury and will ask for significant money, but has played at a Pro Bowl level whereas Bushrod is the younger, cheaper option with upside. Both of these players are talented enough and good enough to play left tackle on many teams.
Daryn Colledge, Green Bay Packers (28)
Colledge is no longer viewed as the solution at left tackle in Green Bay. Mid-round TJ Lang has taken over the back-up position there. That alone is enough to make his value take a significant plunge. Colledge was even “put on notice” and warned about his subpar level of play, but has since picked it up a notch, as has the entire O-Line. His value outside of Green Bay may not be as high as it is within the organization because of a poor performance in the team’s biggest stage to date – Monday Night in Minnesota. Still, he’s an average starting offensive guard and a good pass protector in the interior. Colledge’s value will most likely be highest to the Packers because he’s a great fit for what they do and they know his true value.
Kevin Mawae, Tennessee Titans (39)
Mawae has started all six games for the Titans this year, but with his contract expiring, the line may turn to Leroy Harris who will have been groomed for 3 years, sparingly seeing the field. If Mawae is up for another season, he could land on a number of teams, or just re-sign in Tennessee. He still has a little gas left in the tank and it the Titans pass on him, several teams will be lining up for him and accept the leadership he brings to the team.
Chad Clifton, Green Bay Packers (34)
Clifton has suffered an ankle injury earlier this season forcing the Packers to retreat to other options at left tackle. After returning healthy to his position, Clifton and the entire offensive line has picked up their play and protected Rodgers at a more respectable level. Still, it’s quite clear that this year’s Clifton isn’t the model pass protector he’s been in the past. Clifton has lost a step and is now more susceptible to speed players and double moves. If Clifton isn’t offered another contract in Green Bay, where he’s played his entire career, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the franchise’s great blind side protector call it quits.
Other Notable Free Agents:
Eugene Amano, Tennessee Titans (28)
David Baas, San Francisco 49ers (28)
Khalif Barnes, Oakland Raiders (28)
Alex Barron, St. Louis Rams (27)
Mike Brisiel, Houston Texans (27)
Jeromey Clary, San Diego Chargers (26) – Restricted FA
Nick Cole, Philadelphia Eagles (26)
Ryan Cook, Minnesota Vikings (27)
Tyson Clabo, Atlanta Falcons (29)
Harvey Dahl, Atlanta Falcons (29)
Mike Gandy, Arizona Cardinals (31)
Cornell Green, Oakland Raiders (34)
Rex Hadnot, Cleveland Browns (28)
Ben Hamilton, Denver Broncos (33)
Justin Hartwig, Pittsburgh Steelers (31)
Stephon Heyer, Washington Redskins (26) – Restricted FA
Richie Incognito, St. Louis Rams (27)
Jon Jansen, Washington Redskins (34)
Charlie Johnson, Indianapolis Colts (26)
Nick Kaczur, New England Patriots (31)
Chris Kuper, Denver Broncos (27)
Deuce Lutui, Arizona Cardinals (27)
Stephen Neal, New England Patriots (33)
Rudy Niswanger, Kansas City Chiefs (27)
Chester Pitts, Houston Texans (31)
Manuel Ramirez, Detroit Lions (27) – Restricted FA
Rob Sims, Seattle Seahawks (26)
Chris Spencer, Seattle Seahawks (28)
Jason Spitz, Green Bay Packers (27)
Adam Terry, Baltimore Ravens (28)
Jeremy Trueblood, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (27)
Bobbie Williams, Cincinnati Bengals (33)
Marshal Yanda, Baltimore Ravens (25