Free Agent Market For Centers/Guards

Our list of 2015 free agents provides a comprehensive position-by-position breakdown of which players are eligible to hit the open market this year. However, that list of names doesn’t include much context or additional information about those players. So, with March’s free agent period fast approaching, we’ll be taking a closer look this month at the free agent market for each position. Today, we’ll turn our attention to interior offensive linemen — centers and guards. Let’s dive in….

Top unrestricted FAs:

This year’s class of interior lineman has a little something for everyone, including top-notch guards (Iupati, Franklin) and centers (Hudson, Wisniewski). There’s also a nice mix of experienced veterans, such as Sims and Montgomery, and younger players who could still have room to improve — Boling and Carpenter fit this bill.

Iupati is probably the best bet to land the biggest contract of this group, but Hudson, Boling, or even Wisniewski could give him a run. Those players should be the targets for teams looking to find a long-term answer at a certain position. Veterans like De La Puente and Sims, on the other hand, should come cheaper, and on a shorter term. They’d be nice stopgap solutions for teams looking to contend right away, or clubs developing a draftee that isn’t quite ready to start.

As teams figure out which of these linemen to target, it’s also worth considering their strengths and weaknesses. Iupati, Boling, Wisniewski, and Berger are among the guys here who received significantly better run-blocking grades than pass-blocking grades in 2014, per Pro Football Focus (subscription required). Carpenter and Montgomery, meanwhile, were better pass blockers than run blockers, while Hudson and Franklin were equally solid in both facets of the game.

Other unrestricted options:

While this list mostly consists of depth options, there are certainly plenty of players here with starting experience — it’s simply a question of whether they’re the type of players you’d want to have in your starting lineup. For instance, Colledge, Joseph, McGlynn, and Pears all saw more than 750 offensive snaps for their respective teams in 2014. They also all placed within the bottom five guards in the league, out of 78 qualified players, per Pro Football Focus (subscription required). Colon, Connolly, Ducasse, and Jerry were also among the NFL’s bottom 20 guards last year, according to PFF.

That doesn’t mean some of those players might not be effective in 2015 — Jerry and Colon are among the players who had respectable seasons in 2013 before a precipitous drop-off last year. And even if Connolly wasn’t the reliable inside force he had been in past years, he was still a starter for the Super Bowl champions.

Late-30s guys like Raiola and Goodwin should also provide passable short-term production and will be available on one-year contracts, and you could certainly do worse than having a veteran like Satele or Linkenbach as a depth piece. This group may not feature many exciting names – if such a thing is even possible for a center or guard – but for clubs in need of a reliable backup or two, there are plenty of options here.

Restricted FAs:

We haven’t really seen enough from most of these players to know whether or not they’d hold their own if forced into more significant roles, but Schilling was decent in limited action for the Seahawks last year, and Shipley posted a very solid +5.7 grade for the Colts in 440 snaps, per PFF (subscription required). Those two players – particularly Shipley – are the best bets to receive RFA tenders, but otherwise I anticipate we’ll see these guys re-sign for lesser salaries or land modest deals with new teams.

Previous looks at the 2015 free agent market:

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