2019 Free Agent Preview: Offensive Line
There are only three OTs worth getting excited about at the top of the class…
1) Trent Brown, NE (6’8”/380)
Brown has had an interesting journey in the NFL. A 7th-round pick by the 49ers in 2015. They traded Brown (for nothing, basically) in a swap a 5th for a 3rd-round pick sending him to New England, where he promptly started at LT and was really very good/great. I thought Kyle Shanahan was an offensive genius? Anyways…
So, now Brown is a free agent. It’s not like the Patriots to pay up for a hot free agent, and his 2018 season + being a Patriot launches his value sky-high. Will the Pats pay/will Brown take a discount to stay in New England?
I suspect Brown will get overpaid to go the Jets-Bills-Texans. My guess is the Texans…O’Brien loves ex-Patriots…if Brown doesn’t stay with the Patriots. I don’t think Belichick will overpay because he can just swipe players from any team and plug them and make them stars it seems. So why pay Brown a mega-deal? Leave that to the other 31 suckers.
2) Darryl Williams, CAR (6’6”/330)
2017 2nd-team All-Star performer, and then hurt in 2018 and missed almost every game. He’ll be in hot demand if his medical is all clear.
My guess would be the NY Giants – he has some connection to O-C Mike Shula.
3) Ja’Waun James, MIA (6’6”/312)
I’m not a huge fan, but he’s grading out well as a right tackle by people who grade such things (of which I am often a skeptic or have different grades). The fact that James was with Adam Gase, and the fact that the Jets have a lot of money to spend and will be desperate as usual – James to NYJ makes the most sense.
SLEEPER: George Fant, SEA – He was a big deal a couple of years ago, because of his basketball-to-NFL conversion and sudden start for Seattle out of nowhere, but then he got hurt and kinda disappeared. My guess is he winds up in Detroit with former O-C Darrell Bevell.
DEEP SLEEPER: Jake Fisher, CIN – I’m not a fan of his either, but the Bengals used him in a lot of interesting ways…sometimes as a quasi-TE. He’s athletic, and teams will deduce the Bengals might have been too stupid. My guess is he goes to the Washington Redskins.
Not a lot of options at guard this year. It’s basically one top name and then a bunch of aging/injury issue guys. Not a lot worth talking about.
Top O’ the Class: Rodger Saffold, LAR
The Rams will be desperate to keep him, but this is Saffold’s big chance to cash in. The Rams have young talent to plug in, so I think he’s gone…unless he takes a lesser deal to stay. Green Bay or Cincinnati may make a big run at him and change the game, and I have heard from a couple people that the Jets plan to throw a lot of money at him as well.
SLEEPER: Ted Karras, NE – He’s only a Restricted Free Agent (RFA), so the Pats can match any offer. He’s been a backup but starter-level talent behind great guards in NE. A team like NYJ or BUF could try to lure him away to hurt the Pats (which won’t work). NFL teams love anything related to the Patriots.
DEEP SLEEPER: Jeff Allen, KC – Was a starter for most of his career but started falling flat in 2017 into 2018. Without many options at OG in free agency…he’s one…
Two nice options at the top, at Center for teams in need…
1) Matt Paradis, DEN
Missed some games in 2018 with a fractured fibula. Has been good-to-great in the NFL otherwise. Denver does not have huge cap space at this point. One of the bad teams could overpay and buy themselves a nice starting center.
2) Mitch Morse, KC
I’m a Morse fan. He has played center, but I think he could play guard if needed…but he’s been very good at center. I suspect KC doesn’t let him get away…they’re in a bit better position on salary cap today and protecting Mahomes is a massive priority.
SLEEPER: B.J. Finney, PIT – has been a backup, but could be a starter at OC or OG for a team in need. The Steelers may be the one that makes the move to keep him with an eye on him starting soon.
DEEP SLEEPER: Wesley Johnson, MIA – We had decent grades on Johnson coming out of Vandy. He was drafted and cut by the Steelers, picked up NYJ…and he pushed himself to starter in 2016 and 2017. The Jets let him walk in 2018. The Lions took a shot on him and dropped him, and he went to Miami as a backup in 2019. Going back to NYJ would be familiar and with 2018 coach Adam Gase.
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