Age as of 9/1/10. “(UFA-CBA)” represents a player that will become an unrestricted free agent if a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is put into place. Otherwise, free agents will be considered with a more realistic outlook of a 2010 season without a CBA in place.
Bobbie Williams, Cincinnati Bengals (33)
Bobbie Williams has been one of the league’s most underrated guards, especially as a run blocker. Even at 33, he was good enough to garner a 2nd team All-Pro bid from me. Williams is one of few elite players who will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason. It would be surprising to see the Bengals let him get to that point without offering him a lucrative extension to stay in Cincinnati for next season.
Kevin Mawae, Tennessee Titans (39)
Mawae has started all sixteen 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 and high football IQ he would bring 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 picked up their play and protected Rodgers at a more respectable level over the 2nd half of the season. Still, Clifton has lost a step and is now more susceptible to speed players and double moves, but is still an average pass protector. 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. As long as he can continue to play at this level, he’ll still be the best option the Packers have.
Jahri Evans, New Orleans Saints (27) – Restricted FA (UFA-CBA)
Jahri Evans continues to grade out as the team’s best run-blocking linemen week after week, but this year made great strides in pass-protection. 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. He earned a nod as a 1st team All-Pro, which should add a couple million to his contract. Expect the Saints, who have nothing but positive things to say towards Evans, to richly reward him for his hard work and production, even though they may have more flexibility with Evans potentially becoming a restricted free agent.
Logan Mankins, New England Patriots (28) – Restricted FA (UFA-CBA)
Logan Mankins has been a very consistent player for the Patriots since he was drafted, starting all 80 games in his 5-year career. That type of consistency is difficult to match, but free agency should seriously inflate his value if he becomes unrestricted. The Patriots will most likely lock him up through his early 30’s, solidifying the left side for years to come. Mankins has All-Pro type potential and many feel he had that type of season this year. From what Mankins has said, he wants to stay on this winning franchise, even though he could be one of the top players available next offseason.
Marcus McNeill, San Diego Chargers (26) – Restricted FA (UFA-CBA)
McNeill didn’t play at an elite level this year, but was among the second tier of left tackles that are still quite above average. He’s became one of the “bigger” names at the left tackle position since his spectacular and rookie season, and hasn’t lost too much of his hype. 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.” McNeil will be one of many Chargers to become restricted free agents without a CBA, or unrestricted if a new deal is agreed upon. If the latter scenario holds, San Diego will need to prioritize their free agents to try and retain as many as possible, while maintain financial stability in the future. McNeill also has a history of neck and back problems that could weigh into his future.
Jared Gaither, Baltimore Ravens (24) – Restricted FA
After being taken off the field on a stretcher in New England earlier this season, Gaither luckily suffered no season or career threatening injury. His return to the field has boosted the Ravens’ pass protection where he was among the league’s best this year in those regards. He allowed only a handful of sacks this year, but also only a few overall pressures. If the Ravens’ offensive line is playing at a high level, so will the Ravens’ offense. With him and Michael Oher on each side, the Ravens should have a pair of tackles for the next decade, something very few teams can claim. The Ravens will have the ability to place a restricted tender on Gaither for at least one more year, which will give them ample opportunity to work out a long-term extension. Gaither has the length and athleticism that are ideal of a left tackle, but also the potential to still continue to climb.
Willie Colon, Pittsburgh Steelers (27) – Restricted FA (UFA-CBA)
After catching a lot of heat after last season’s wildly inconsistent performance, Willie Colon has made an improvement at right tackle for the Steelers. He’s done an okay job keeping Roethlisberger clean and turning in a season that may not beg for an upgrade this seasoned in one of the better seasons for a right tackle in pass protection 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.
Donald Penn, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (27) – Restricted FA (UFA-CBA)
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 didn’t have his best season this year, he has proven in the pass to be one of truly balanced left tackles. Penn does a nice job of keeping the blind side 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.
Jammal Brown, New Orleans Saints (29) – Restricted FA (UFA-CBA)
The Saints place Brown on the injured reserve early in the season after undergoing consecutive surgeries, first for a sports hernia then later for his hip. Jermon Bushrod has done a commendable job filling in for him on the left side, but Brown has the Pro Bowl experience and potential. The Saints could possibly look to trade the one they feel would net the most value this offseason, while keeping the other at left tackle. They could probably also retain both at a relatively cheap price, giving them flexibility to make a move later down the line.
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 an admirable job replacing the All-Pro Brown, who will also become a free agent at the end of the year. The Saints will have a pair of interesting choices to make with their two left tackles. Brown will be coming off an injury, but has played at a Pro Bowl level whereas Bushrod is probably the younger, cheaper option with upside. Both of these players are talented and have been productive enough to play left tackle on many teams.
Daryn Colledge, Green Bay Packers (28) – Restricted FA (UFA-CBA)
Colledge is no longer viewed as the solution at left tackle in Green Bay, with rumors that he may even be let go by the team this offseason. Mid-round TJ Lang has taken over the back-up position at left tackle and could also be the future starter at Colledge’s current left guard position if the Packers decide to part ways. He undoubtedly lost some money this season, but his new price could be right for Green Bay to re-sign him. Colledge and the entire offensive line played much better over the second half of the season where veterans Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher settled into their spots at tackle and Scott Wells at center, bringing stability to the entire line. Colledge’s value outside of Green Bay may not be as high as it is within the organization because other teams will be more likely to remember this year’s overall poor performance.
Other Notable Free Agents:
Eugene Amano, Tennessee Titans (28)
David Baas, San Francisco 49ers (28) – Restricted FA (UFA-CBA)
Khalif Barnes, Oakland Raiders (28) – Restricted FA (UFA-CBA)
Alex Barron, St. Louis Rams (27) – Restricted FA (UFA-CBA)
Mike Brisiel, Houston Texans (27)
Chris Chester, Baltimore Ravens (27) – Restricted FA (UFA-CBA)
Jeromey Clary, San Diego Chargers (26) – Restricted FA
Nick Cole, Philadelphia Eagles (26) – Restricted FA (UFA-CBA)
Ryan Cook, Minnesota Vikings (27) – Restricted FA (UFA-CBA)
Tyson Clabo, Atlanta Falcons (29) – Restricted FA (UFA-CBA)
Harvey Dahl, Atlanta Falcons (29) – Restricted FA (UFA-CBA)
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, Buffalo Bills (27) – Restricted FA (UFA-CBA)
Jon Jansen, Washington Redskins (34)
Max Jean-Gilles, Philadelphia Eagles (26) – Restricted FA (UFA-CBA)
Charlie Johnson, Indianapolis Colts (26) – Restricted FA (UFA-CBA)
Nick Kaczur, New England Patriots (31)
Chris Kuper, Denver Broncos (27) – Restricted FA (UFA-CBA)
Deuce Lutui, Arizona Cardinals (27) – Restricted FA (UFA-CBA)
Stephen Neal, New England Patriots (33)
Rudy Niswanger, Kansas City Chiefs (27) – Restricted FA (UFA-CBA)
Chester Pitts, Houston Texans (31)
Manuel Ramirez, Detroit Lions (27) – Restricted FA
Rob Sims, Seattle Seahawks (26) – Restricted FA (UFA-CBA)
Chris Spencer, Seattle Seahawks (28) – Restricted FA (UFA-CBA)
Jason Spitz, Green Bay Packers (27) – Restricted FA (UFA-CBA)
Adam Terry, Baltimore Ravens (28) – Restricted FA (UFA-CBA)
Jeremy Trueblood, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (27) – Restricted FA (UFA-CBA)
Marshal Yanda, Baltimore Ravens (25)