2014 NFL Free Agent Offensive Linemen
By: Roshan Bhagat
Branden Albert [OT, Kansas City Chiefs] - After using the franchise tag on Albert a year ago, the Chiefs are unlikely to do the same this year after also using the top pick in last year's draft on tackle Eric Fisher. With the productivity of their offense, the Chiefs should look to retain Albert, but there are plenty of teams with a greater need at the position that may be able to top KC's offer for a premier left tackle. With little leverage, the Chiefs will have to rely on somewhat of a hometown discount.
Alex Mack [C, Cleveland Browns] - Alex Mack has the athleticism, strength, and intelligence of a fifteen-year center in the league. With an expiring rookie contract, the Browns would be smart to re-sign one of their top offensive pieces and avoid creating an unnecessary hole as they look to the future. With a projected “offensive line” franchise tag value that should approach $10 million, the Browns are unlikely to play that card. However, Mack has been optimistic about his return to Cleveland and should give the team an opportunity to match market offers.
Jared Veldheer [OT, Oakland Raiders] - After a purging of bad contracts, the Raiders are finally in a position to rebuild the organization the right way. Though Veldheer is still a holdover from the previous regime, his season as the team's best player in 2012 should be considered as the Raiders look to the future. With tremendous length, size, and athleticism, he developed into one of the game's premier pass-blocking left tackles with functional strength to produce in the run game. Though a long-term deal is possible, a franchise tag may be more likely given the injury that sidelined him for all but 5 games this year, allowing him to prove his value and earn a top-shelf deal.
Eugene Monroe [OT, Baltimore Ravens] - Coming to Baltimore as part of a midseason trade, Monroe provided the Ravens with consistent protection from the blind side. Though he hasn't received much praise over the past few years, 2013 wasn't an anomaly and should continue into the future through a second contract with Baltimore.
Michael Oher [OT, Baltimore Ravens] - The other blind side has situated himself firmly as a right tackle and the pay decrease that comes with that label. Though he's far from elite on either side, the tackles are no longer weaknesses for Baltimore offensively. It would be a curious move to see Ozzie Newsome open the edges up to uncertainty with the interior offensive line struggling.
Jordan Gross [OT, Carolina Panthers] - Jordan Gross, 33, reiterated after Sunday's loss to the 49ers that if he returns to football next season, it'll be for the Carolina Panthers. Though retirement seems premature for Gross, who still played at a high level in 2013, it seemed to be a possibility this offseason, suggesting that any contract he signs with the Panthers will be played on 1 or 2 year deals.
Travelle Wharton [OG, Carolina Panthers] - After missing all of 2012 with a torn ACL, Wharton was signed by the Panthers late in the offseason and regained his starting job for 12 games. Wharton's versatility aided the Panthers shore up a position of weakness for the time being. Though he'll be 33 heading into next season, expect the Panthers to reach a deal to bring him back as a starting guard.
Wade Smith [OG, Houston Texans] - Since signing with Houston in 2010, Wade Smith has blocked at All-Pro levels for a couple years, elevating his career. Though 2013 was a bit of a drop-off, Smith is still a valuable starting guard that should hold value in Houston.
Evan Dietrich-Smith [C, Green Bay Packers] - After struggling immensely early in the season, Dietrich-Smith turned his season around to become a dependable starter in the center. Though he was surely aided by a strong guard tandem in Josh Sitton and TJ Lang, Dietrich-Smith is the type of tough heady, tough center that can lead an offensive line without breaking the bank.
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