With several upper-echelon guards set to hit the market, the bidding could creep into the eight-figure-per-year range. One soon-to-be available player looks like he could move into the No. 1 spot for guard earnings. Viewed as probably the top guard available in a strong class, Kevin Zeitler could command a deal that pays him $12MM annually, Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com reports.
This figure is higher than the previous rumor connected to Zeitler, one that pegged the Bengals guard as being set to sign for around $10MM. Only three guards in football earn $10MM-plus on average (Kelechi Osemele, Kyle Long and David DeCastro) and each signed to receive that amount last year. However, Osemele’s five-year, $58MM deal is in its own territory at $11.7MM AAV compared to Long and DeCastro’s $10MM-per-year wages. CBSSports.com’s Joel Corry also projects a $12MM-per-year Zeitler accord.
“He’s breaking the bank. If you’re getting Zeitler, you’re in the Osemele range,” the former agent said, via Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post. “They have to be willing to pay top-of-the market guard prices.”
Charles Robinson of Yahoo.com hears (Twitter link) the Zeitler range will be between $10-$12MM.
A sixth-year guard, Zeitler started for five years in Cincinnati and is regarded as one of the best UFAs available. PFR’s Zach Links tabbed the former first-round pick at this class’ No. 5 free agent. He’s fared well for several seasons and finished 2016 as Pro Football Focus’ No. 7-rated guard.
T.J. Lang, Larry Warford and Ronald Leary join this guard class and should see significant interest as well. Sources informed Robinson that Lang’s price range is likely to fall just below Zeitler’s, with the 29-year-old expected to receive offers between $8-10MM (Twitter link). La Canfora connects the soon-to-be 27-year-old Zeitler to the Jaguars and potentially the Jets, but the Jags boast far more cap room. The Bengals and Zeitler hadn’t entered into serious negotiations, and they’re prepared to lose the longtime cog.
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