2017 NFL free agency frenzy is in full gear, and while playmakers like quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers normally get most of the attention out the gate, this year offensive linemen are making as big of a splash.
Makes sense; right? With the NFL long evolved into a passing league, that concept starts with a competent offensive line – unless you’re the Browns, then you wait until this year to finally realize that.
After years of reaching for playmakers, many that fizzled out, the Browns jumped into the FA mosh pit early and added 622 pounds of beef to their O line, laying claims on two studs to join many time Pro Bowler Joe Thomas. They snagged tough, proven 315-pound guard, Kevin Zeitler, from division rival Cincinnati Bengals and former Packers’ center, 307-pound JC Tretter. While Zeitler was rated the top offensive lineman available, Tretter was rated the second best center on the market.
Terms on Tretter are not known but Zeitler’s deal is said to be for five years and $60 million. BTW, the Bengals may possibly lose a second anchor on their line with offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth reportedly having a three-year, $36 million deal in place with the Los Angeles Rams. Not sure if Whitworth will stay with the Bengals or move but that offer may be too hard for Cincy to match; especially with the aging tackle being 35 years old.
Other teams moved fast to bid on offensive linemen.
The Minnesota Vikings ripped offensive tackle Riley Reiff from division rival Detroit Lions. Reiff, who is versatile and has steadily improved over the years, can play on either side of the line like he did during his tenure in Detroit.
The Lions lost another anchor of their line when guard, Larry Warford bolted and is expected to sign with the New Orleans Saints.
To fill those holes, second year Lions’ GM Bob Quinn, who was trained well spending more than a decade in New England Patriots’ organization, signed high ranked former Ravens right tackle, Ricky Wagner.
Other notables who have signed or are expected to move teams were:
Ronald Leary, Dallas Cowboys guard, who is reportedly joining the Broncos on a four-year deal worth $36 million.
Russell Okung offensive tackle who underachieved in Denver last year, inked a four-year deal with the Chargers worth $53 million ($13.25 million guaranteed).
Matt Kalil, Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle who has given up a ton of sacks over the years is jumping ship to join his brother Ryan in Carolina. That leads into this “swap”. While the Vikings lost Kalil to Carolina, they replaced him with Panthers’ offensive tackle Mike Remmers, signing him to a five-year, $30 million deal.
While all those players are popping the corks to their champagne, others are waiting for offers to come across the desk. Those include, New York Jets’ tackle, Ryan Clady, the former Pro Bowl player who has withstood an onslaught of injuries over the years and Packers’ guard T.J. Lang.
Lang also has been hit with setbacks, including a foot injury and what is said to be a ‘minor’ hip surgery. Lang was rated the No. 2 guard in this year’s FA group and has visited some teams, including the Lions who may take chance on the solid right guard to replace Warford.
Let the carousel continue.