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2013 NFL Free Agency: Top-10 free-agent offensive linemen

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer

Offensive line isn't the sexiest position in football (literally and figuratively) but it's still obviously crucial. And this is a good, good year to need an offensive lineman.

Both the draft and free agency are stacked with linemen. We could see two guards -- Chance Warmack of Alabama and Jonathan Cooper of UNC -- go early in the first round, and two tackles -- Luke Joeckel of Texas A&M and Eric Fisher of Central Michigan -- are almost near locks for the top 10.

Free agency is even more stacked, with a number of linemen hitting the market. It's possible that we won't see a huge pile of big-money deals and

1. Sebastian Vollmer, RT, Patriots
It wasn't a total stunner when the Patriots let Vollmer go by not using the franchise tag on him, but it was a little surprising. They've used the franchise tag every year since 2008 until now and Vollmer's a key piece in protecting Tom Brady. He could play either tackle position but with Nate Solder on the left side he's a right tackle for New England.

2. Andre Smith, RT, Bengals
It's almost hard to even think about Smith's early NFL career at this point -- he was a mockery at his pro day and struggled early on, but he's an absolute brusier and a monster on the right side of the line at this point. Cincinnati had to use their franchise tag on defensive end Michael Johnson, ensuring that Smith could test free agency.

3. Andy Levitre, OG, Bills
Buffalo didn't have much of an option when they let Levitre hit free agency, with the need to tag Jarius Byrd at the lower safety price. But it's a little surprising that they haven't been trying to work and land a deal with one of the better left guards in the game, especially considering he's only 26.

4. Jake Long, LT, Dolphins
I'll probably catch hell for having Long this low ... and I don't care. 2012 was a nightmare year for Long; he'll still get paid and he's only 27. But a big season last year could've set him for a monster payday and you have to wonder. Departing from Miami looks very likely.

5. Phil Loadholt, RT, Vikings
Is there a better name for a guard than Loadholt? The Vikings right tackle was a road grader last year, helping pave the way for Adrian Peterson's historical season. It's hard to imagine that letting him walk would sit particularly well with the franchise's running back.

6. Will Beatty, LT, Giants
He's making the list because he wasn't franchise tagged and instead actually signed as a free agent. Beatty's a young, talented tackle and one of the major reasons that Eli Manning didn't hit the ground a ton the past few years. Re-signed by Giants

7. Sam Baker, LT, Falcons
Baker, Matt Ryan's fellow first-round pick in 2008, has been up and down throughout his career and dealt with some injuries. But he had a very nice year in 2012 and right before going into free agency is a very good time to have a very nice year.

8. Gosder Cherilus, RT, Lions
Cherilus allowed four sacks in 2012 and also had a very nice year at the right time. He's still young and is still just 28.

9. Jermon Bushrod, LT, Saints
Bushrod went back to the Pro Bowl in 2012 for his second-straight trip and only allowed four sacks while protecting Drew Brees blindside. Guards are more important in the Saints offense, but they still need to shore up the tackle position if he leaves.

10. Louis Vasquez, OG, Chargers
Strong season by Vasquez, particularly in the passing game, which says a lot considering how terrible the Chargers were in 2012. At 25, he could end up being a very nice addition for someone who needs help in the middle of the line. The Chargers, who are desperate for line help, might not be able to afford him.

 
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