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Row12.com - A Community of Sports Writers and Fans!                                               ***Attention Writers***
 
2013 Free Agency Preview: Offensive Line
By Matt Horkman

Offensive Tackles

Branden Albert, Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs were able to strike a last minute deal with WR Dwayne Bowe. That opened the door for Kansas City to slap the franchise tag on Albert, who may convert to guard, which is something the current left tackle doesn’t seem inclined to do.

Possible Destination: Chiefs

Sam Baker, Atlanta Falcons
After struggling for much of his career, Baker had a solid season for Atlanta in his contract year. The former first-round pick has back issues, but he’s a capable player so long he remains healthy.

Possible Destinations: Bears, Cardinals, Chargers, Dolphins, & Falcons

Jermon Bushrod, New Orleans Saints
Bushrod does a solid job protecting Drew Brees, though Brees gets rid of the ball quickly. Regardless, you can see a market developing quickly for the starting left tackle.

Possible Destinations: Bears, Cardinals, Dolphins, & Saints

Gosder Cherilus, Detroit Lions
Cherilus is coming off his strongest season after several underwhelming campaigns. His lack of consistency is a red flag, but he’s still capable of filling the void at right tackle for some franchises.

Possible Destinations: Lions, Panthers, Patriots, & Vikings

Ryan Clady, Denver Broncos
While Clady’s run blocking is merely average, he’s been an elite pass protector for Jay Cutler, Kyle Orton, and Peyton Manning. A contract dispute could be on its way, as Clady seems lukewarm (to say the least) to Denver using the franchise tag on him.

Possible Destination: Broncos

Phil Loadholt, Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings would like to keep Loadholt, as GM Rick Spielman has expressed maintaining continuity on the offensive line. Nonetheless, Loadholt is a massive man (6-8 and 343 pounds) and size like that just doesn’t come around very often.

Possible Destinations: Bengals, Patriots, & Vikings

Jake Long, Miami Dolphins
In many ways, Long is still living off the reputation of being a former No. 1 overall pick. In reality, he’s a solid but unspectacular player. He’ll draw interest on the market, but he may not get the contract he desires.

Possible Destinations: Bears, Cardinals, Chargers, Giants, & Ravens
Andre Smith
Andre Smith, Cincinnati Bengals
Smith has developed into one of the best right tackles in football, but teams are certainly leery of paying him a lot of money. Recently, he was arrested for trying to board a plane with a firearm. Questionable decisions such as that raise red flags.

Possible Destinations: Bengals, Patriots, & Vikings

Sebastian Vollmer, New England Patriots
Like Long, Vollmer’s reputation is often greater than reality. He plays in a big market with a knowledgeable fan base, so his name is more recognizable than most tackles. Regardless, he’s a good player worthy of pursuing in free agency, but the Patriots can win with him or without him.

Possible Destinations: Bengals, Patriots, & Vikings

Offensive Guards

Andy Levitre, Buffalo Bills
Unlike most top free agents, Levitre will actually hit the market. The Bills are trying to re-sign him, so they’ll have to match any offer he receives. Chicago and Tennessee are logical suitors.

Possible Destinations: Bears, Bills, & Titans

Brandon Moore, N.Y. Jets
Moore is coming off a solid season, but he’s 33 years old, so he may not have many more solid seasons left in him. Look for him to wait until the market settles before signing.

Possible Destinations: Bears, Bills, Chargers, Jets, & Titans

Chad Rinehart, Buffalo Bills
The Bills probably won’t lose both Levitre and Rinehart. The latter missed much of last season, but he filled in for Levitre in ‘11, and offered steady play. If Levitre signs early, look for Buffalo to jump on retaining Rinehart.

Possible Destinations: Bears, Bills, Chargers, Jets, & Titans

Louis Vasquez, San Diego Chargers
Re-signing Vasquez is San Diego’s top off-season priority. He’s an unrestricted free agent at only 25 years old, and is coming off a very good season.

Possible Destinations: Bears, Bills, Chargers, & Titans

Centers

Brian De La Puente, New Orleans Saints (RFA)
Restricted free agents rarely switch teams, but De La Puente could have many suitors after him. He’s outstanding in pass protection and entering the prime of his career. Don’t be surprised if the Saints prioritize re-signing him to a long-term contract rather than Bushrod.

Possible Destinations: Bears, Cowboys, Saints, & Titans

Fernando Velasco, Tennessee Titans
Last year, Tennessee was aggressively pursuing centers. They toyed with the idea of signing Scott Wells and even went after Jeff Saturday. They didn’t get either, but it worked out well. Velasco emerged as one of the better centers in the AFC.

Possible Destinations: Bears, Cowboys, & Titans

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