There wasn’t a ton of offensive line movement in free agency this offseason. Most teams that were desperate to add talent did so last year. Others that had real needs addressed them in April’s NFL Draft.
It’s a good thing they did because there’s next to nothing of value in the trenches when it comes to free agency. Pretty much everybody on this list comes with an asterisk or caveat of some kind. Still, there’s value to be had here, I think, and guys that if priced right could still eventually turn into NFL level talent.
Here’s the best that’s currently out there.
Joeckel is a former first round pick that never really lived up to his draft billing as a left tackle. He moved inside to guard and landed with the Seattle Seahawks where he started 11 games when his knee wasn’t bothering him. Joeckel will just be in his sixth year in the league, a young pup as far as offensive linemen go.
Joeckel didn’t exactly light the world on fire in his short stint with the Seahawks, grading out as the No. 51 guard in the league by Pro Football Focus. I still think this is a guy with a lot of raw talent and NFL size (6-6, 306 pounds) that a real offensive line coach could do something with. There’s definitely no reason he couldn’t be a solid back up guard.
Best fit: Los Angeles Rams, Carolina Panthers, Green Bay Packers
Robinson was the greatest whiff of the Jeff Fisher draft era with the Rams. He was selected No. 2 overall in the 2014 NFL Draft and started 48 games over the next four seasons, his final six with the Detroit Lions before they cut him. Robinson is 6-5 and 332 pounds. He has all the raw power and athleticism to be a dominant tackle in the league. He could just never put it together. The inept coaches on Fisher’s staff didn’t help.
Sean McVay gave up on Robinson quickly, shipping him to the Lions for a late round garbage pick. The over-inflated measurables for Robinson that made all the scouts fall in love with him coming out of Auburn are still there. Like Joeckel, he just needs a coach to drag it out of him. With the potential to get a first round value out of a league minimum contract, I can’t believe someone isn’t adding Robinson to their roster.
Best fit: Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, Tennessee Titans
Evans is old, about to enter his 13th NFL season, and that’s probably why he’s still sitting at home. He’s started 183 games in his career, every single one he was healthy enough to suit up for and he’s done it on elite teams, most notably the New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packers. Unlike Joeckel and Robinson, Evans isn’t a prospect. He’s a plug and play starter. He’ll likely be snapped up the minute teams figure out they need guard help in the preseason.
Best fit: Seattle Seahawks, New England Patriots, Denver Broncos
You want a guy with a caveat? Newton comes with a big one. He didn’t play at all last season after tearing both patella tendons six games into 2016. He has been working to come back, but still may not be ready for any action in the spring. So why even look at him? Well, before he got hurt he was the Houston Texans’ starting right tackle for four and a half seasons. If he’s healthy, or there’s a hope he can get healthy, he’d be an immediate upgrade to the right tackle situation on a lot of teams.
Best fit: Cleveland Browns, New York Jets, Seattle Seahawks
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