Free agency opens at 4 pm on March 11th. Leading up to Tuesday we’ll be previewing some of the positions where Buffalo might look to improve their roster, and try to find possible fits for the Bills. We continue our series with offensive linemen.
Since the time the Bills hired Doug Marrone as head coach there have been quite a few changes on Buffalo’s roster at offensive line. Those changes carried well into the season most notably at the guard and tackle positions. Marrone at his end of season press conference talked about upgrading the line further in the offseason, and free agency will be the first opportunity to do so.
THE HEAVY HITTERS
Branden Albert – OT – Kansas City – Albert was not franchised for a second straight year by the Chiefs. The 29-year old is widely considered the best tackle on the market and as such he stands to make a boatload of money.
Alex Mack – C – Cleveland – The Browns transition player is unlikely to be pursued for an offer sheet by other clubs, but is considered one of the best pivot men in the game.
Eugene Monroe – OT – Baltimore – He might not be at the level of an Albert, but he’s one of the better experienced options on the market and he’s still only 26-years old. The Ravens have been trying to re-sign him.
Jared Veldheer – OT – Oakland – Eyebrows were raised when the Raiders did not make use of the franchise tag on Veldheer. The tackle and the Raiders were reportedly negotiating a long term deal, but Veldheer looks like he’s going to test the market first. He’s the kind of cornerstone tackle you build your line around.
Zane Beadles – G – Denver – One of the better drive blockers in the run game on the open market. Has good movement skills, which can help in the screen game. A quality all-around guard.
Eben Britton – G – Chicago – He came into the league as a right tackle prospect, but played well enough in four starts at guard for the Bears last season that he figures to draw some interest for an interior role.
Charles Brown – OT – New Orleans – Pass protection is his strength over run blocking, but that’s likely to make him money on the open market with a pass heavy offense.
Anthony Collins – OT – Cincinnati – He got seven starts last season for the Bengals and performed well. Collins is considered a finesse tackle who relies on technique since he’s not an elite athlete. He served as a backup in Cincinnati, but is looking to land starter money in free agency.
Austin Howard – OT – NY Jets – A gigantic right tackle with a condor-like wingspan, Howard is still improving, but had a steady season in 2013 as a full-time starter.
Michael Oher – OT – Baltimore – His play has been inconsistent the past couple of seasons, which is why a good number of NFL clubs see him strictly as a right tackle.
Chad Rinehart – G – San Diego – After a good year with the Chargers, Rinehart is looking for a long-term deal. A steady guard who can play on either side Rinehart can hold down a starting role.
Rodger Saffold - G-T – St. Louis – A solid run game tackle-guard. Has had trouble with the speed rushers in his time on the left side and might project exclusively to right tackle. Saffold may also be looked at by NFL clubs as the best guard on the market.
Geoff Schwartz – G – Kansas City – Schwartz played admirably at guard after stepping in for the injured Jon Asamoah. He also has the ability to play right tackle, and is a solid run blocker with great size. He’s looking for top flight starter money, which is why Kansas City hasn’t re-signed him to this point.
Willie Colon – G – NY Jets
Breno Giacomini – OT – Seattle
Chris Spencer – G- Tennessee
Zach Strief – OT – New Orleans
Eric Winston – OT – Arizona
POSSIBLE FITS FOR BILLS
Austin Howard – The mammoth right tackle fits the profile of what Doug Marrone wants, which is size and players on the ascent. Plus he would be a subtraction from a division rival.
Chad Rinehart – He was an admirable spot starter for the Bills at guard before leaving for San Diego. Rinehart showed with the Chargers he’s capable of handling a starting role.
Rodger Saffold – His versatility as a right tackle/guard option makes him an attractive option, but multiple bidders could drive his price too high.
Geoff Schwartz – He would be a noticeable upgrade at guard, but he may have multiple suitors including Kansas City, which is trying to re-sign him.