Top 5: 2018 Offensive Line Free Agents
Part Three of our series ranking the top Free Agents at every position
When the new league year begins on March 14th, these players are the best available at their positions, plus we give our thoughts on if those players should/will re-sign or test the waters elsewhere. If you missed Part One – Quarterbacks, or Part Two – Running Backs get all clicky-clicky and read our thoughts.
In this edition, we turn our attention to the biggies up front. Don’t always get the spotlight, but an upgrade here can push your team over the top.
1. Justin Pugh – New York Giants
Underrated as a right tackle since being drafted by New York, Pugh is on the verge of finally being paid his value. His rookie deal paid him just over eight million during his first five years in the league, but should get in the range of about $6.2M per year in free agency.
Giants would be foolish to not try to keep him considering their cap space, but many teams will be targeting Pugh come March. Look for Indy to be in the running here but I’d say Pugh goes to a contender.
2. Andrew Norwell – Carolina Panthers
Norwell might end up being a cap casualty as the Panthers already have a lot of money tied up in Ryan and Matt Kalil, and right tackle Daryl Williams. Carolina chose not to franchise tag Norwell, as that would have paid the guard over $14 million this season alone. At just 26-years-old, Andrew is going to be the top guard on teams wish lists.
Colts, Broncos, Dolphins, and 49ers will be making offers.
3. Cameron Fleming – New England Patriots
Solid year for Fleming at tackle in 2017, playing on only a one year deal he signed last April, now a free agent again, wouldn’t shock me to see the Pats offer another one year tender, but for a bit more than the $1.7M he got last season.
This one is up to Fleming, stay and have a chance to win, or get long term money elsewhere.
4. Jack Mewhort – Indianapolis Colts
Mewhort missed part of 2017 with a knee injury, and going into free agency with health questions is never a good spot to be in. If he is healthy, he will be in demand, and the Colts pretty much have first right of refusal on him. If Indy does let him go, that tells me they don’t think he will be ready, so buyer beware, but if he does hit the market you won’t find many better at the guard slot.
New coaches in Indianapolis won’t help or hurt his cause, but for a team with OL needs, they could do themselves a lot of favors by keeping him.
5. Josh Sitton – Chicago Bears
Chicago chose to let Sitton bolt, declining his $8M option for 2018. A bit banged up in 2016 and 2017, Sitton still has some gas left in the tank. At 31-years-old, Sitton is entering his eleventh NFL season will be in demand for his veteran leadership but don’t expect teams to break the bank here. Brinks trucks don’t exactly get backed up to lineman in their 30’s.
Odds are Sitton leaves the NFC North for the first time in his career; Arizona, Denver, Jets, Giants, and Colts could all benefit from his services.
Coming up next will be Part Four of our Top 5 Free Agents by Position series as we preview the pass catchers (Wide Receivers and Tight Ends) on Tuesday.