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Free Agency Preview: Offensive Guards

#10 Nick Easton

Nick Easton is listed as a “restricted” free agent, so he is not free to sign with whomever he chooses. He’s nothing special and he’s a much better fit at Center but he’s a serviceable guy who can come in and give you a few good games. His strength inhibits him to drop his anchor and take on bull rushes but he’s simply not athletic enough to handle athletic defensive lineman. The Vikings could tender him with a mid to late round pick and bring him back in 2018 to compete in camp for the Left Guard position. He played ok in 2017 before his injury, but the Vikes can do better.

#9 Jermon Bushrod

Bushrod will be 34 when the 2018 season kicks off. Here’s another guy who has been kicked around all over the offensive line and has found a home at Right Guard, a spot where his impressive measurables allow him to still be productive in the NFL. I assume the Dolphins will move on from Bushrod and try to go younger on the interior so he’ll have to find a new home. Expect someone to bring him in to compete for a starting spot in what could possibly be his final NFL season.

#8 DJ Fluker

DJ Fluker is a mammoth of a man at 6’5″ 345 pounds and he’s as physical as anyone in the league but his foot mechanics and athleticism have prohibited him from becoming an elite player on the interior. He can road grade anyone when he gets his hands on them but he has such a hard time defending defensive linemen who are exceptionally quicker than he is. Due to his incredible strength and young age, I would imagine it shouldn’t be too hard for him to find work somewhere.

#7 Patrick Omameh

Patrick Omameh took a big step forward in 2017 and was a key part of Leonard Fournette’s success in his rookie season. He does a good job of balancing his play out in both the running and passing game and if he’s not back in Jacksonville in 2018, he’ll compete somewhere for a starting spot.

#6 Brandon Fusco

2017 was a bounce-back season for Fusco after being cut by the Vikings for underperforming up to his contract. He stayed healthy for an entire season and played pretty well in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. The 49ers could re-sign him, or he could end up in a place like Green Bay, Miami, or Indianapolis…three other teams in need of offensive line help.

#5 Jahri Evans

Jahri Evans will be 35 years old when the 2018 season kicks off, but the old man can still get the job done. Evans is extremely strong and his strength allows him to drop his anchor and hold his own against bull rushes and he can still generate push in the running game. Signing a 1-year contract to return to Green Bay and finish out his career seems likely.

#4 Jack Mewhort

The talent that Mewhort possesses is undeniable but he just hasn’t been able to stay on the field to put it all together. Mewhort is coming off back to back injury-filled seasons and will likely be looking for a fresh start this offseason. I firmly believe that if Mewhort can stay on the field for a full season and be equipped with the correct talent around him, his name will pop up amongst the top 10 Guards consideration once again.

#3 Zach Fulton

Zach Fulton is going to be a highly sought out free agent because of his versatility to play Guard and Center at a quality level. 2017 was his best year since entering the pros and he was a consistent force almost all season. Kansas City may want him back to fill their void at Left Guard but they’re probably going to have to outbid a few other teams to keep him around.

#2 Josh Sitton

Josh Sitton is a late addition to this list and he just made free agency that much more fun to look forward to. Chicago’s offense took a huge hit when Sitton went down for 6 games and I’m a bit surprised that Chicago didn’t try and bring him back at a cheaper salary (which they still could). He’ll be 32 this summer and his window to try and secure another ring before retirement is closing if that’s what he wants to do. I have to believe a team like Minnesota will be interested in continuing his tour of playing for NFC North teams. He would have the ability to start and compete for a ring right away.

#1 Andrew Norwell

Andrew Norwell was, in my opinion, the best Guard in all of football in 2017…and he’s about to get paid. It seems unlikely that Carolina is going to bring him back at the salary that his market value will command and his franchise tag number is far too high as well. Every aspect of Norwell’s game shows up as Pro Bowl quality on tape and it’s a shame that Carolina didn’t lock him up years ago. They will without a doubt regret it in 2018. Per spotrac.com, Norwell’s market value is currently listed at $11.7 million dollars per year. I’d be shocked if a team like the Giants brought him to New York and allowed him to leave.

 

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