The Jaguars are out of the running for guard Kevin Zeitler, Jason Cole of Bleacher Report tweets. That means the interior lineman is likely down to two teams: the Saints and Browns. Zeitler’s AFC South destinations, with the Colts being involved as well, appear to be out.
Viewed as not only the top guard on the market but the top offensive lineman, Zeitler represents a key domino in free agency in terms of setting the market. The Browns, of course, possess more cap room here, entering Thursday with more than $100MM. Although they agreed to a deal with Kenny Britt, the Browns obviously can afford Zeitler and several other marquee free agents if they so choose. Zeitler’s price tag could run past $12MM AAV, which would be a guard record.
The Saints have prioritized this position for years in order to preserve Drew Brees‘ pocket. They have former perennial All-Pro Jahri Evans back in unrestricted free agency. New Orleans finished last season tops in total offense in 2016 and could stand to improve if it adds a lineman of Zeitler’s caliber. The Saints have more money to spend than they usually do at this time of year, but the $27MM-plus pales in comparison to the Browns’ warchest.
Once Zeitler signs, it will complete a rough defection day for the Bengals, who just saw Andrew Whitworth agree to a deal with the Rams.
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