As we always do this time of year, the team here at CBS Sports has taken it upon ourselves to preview every single position's free agency class. Already this week, Cody Benjamin looked at the free-agent quarterbacks, Patrik Walker previewed the running backs, and Tyler Sullivan laid out the wide receiver market.
Those lists contain some of the biggest names available, but just about every NFL fan knows that it would be nearly impossible for the skill-position players to do their jobs without the help of the guys we'll talk about over these next two days: the offensive linemen. Because there are five positions on the line, we've split our preview into two lists -- one for the tackles (Friday) and one for the guards and centers (below).
Brandon Scherff has struggled to stay healthy these last few years, but when on the field, he has been uniformly excellent. Despite missing 14 games due to injury over the last three seasons, Scherff has made the Pro Bowl each year and was named a First Team All-Pro in 2020. He's already been franchise-tagged twice by Washington, so he seems likely to sign elsewhere this offseason. A team like the Bengals seems like an excellent fit, given their needs along the offensive line.
Ryan Jensen hasn't missed a game in five years, and he's been a good starting center for that entire run. The Buccaneers could run into some salary-cap issues this offseason with all of their free agents, so Jensen might be available for the taking. Much like the Chargers did with Corey Linsley last offseason, a team with a young quarterback would be wise to target Jensen.
The Bucs are already spending a bunch of money along the offensive line and may not be able to afford to bring either Jensen or Alex Cappa back. A starter for the last three seasons, Cappa recently turned 27 years old and should be headed into the prime years of his career. Any team that needs help on the interior of the offensive line could do a lot worse.
Bradley Bozeman took over as the starting center for the Ravens after Jensen departed Baltimore several years ago. He started every game in each of the last three seasons, though his play did fall off just a bit in 2021. He's an important component of Baltimore's run game, though, and keeping him in place would preserve continuity for Lamar Jackson. There's been talk of separation between the money Bozeman is seeking and what the Ravens are willing to offer, though, so perhaps the team might move on and look for a cheaper option.
James Daniels had a bounceback season in 2021 and while the Bears definitely need to do quite a bit of work in remaking their offensive line in front of Justin Fields, they'd be wise to try to bring Daniels back as part of that group. His relative youth (25 years old) should help stave off any age-related regression and the versatility he has shown in playing left guard, right guard, and center over the years is a valuable asset.
The Rams didn't necessarily plan on Brian Allen being their starting center coming into this season, but that's how things ended up shaking out. He did a better job as a run blocker than pass protector, according to Pro Football Focus' grading system, but did show significant improvement as a pass-blocker over the 2020 campaign. L.A. may look for a cheaper option at center so it can retain higher-end players at other positions, but Allen was a good fit and made a strong case to be brought back.
Ben Jones is entering his mid-30s, but we've seen centers remain effective deeper into their careers before. He is the lynchpin of the Titans' offensive line up the middle, and given the importance of both the run game and pass protection to their offensive ecosystem, it would be surprising if they didn't try to bring him back. His durability and solid play make him an excellent free-agent target if the Titans don't go all out to retain him.
Connor Williams was benched midseason before eventually re-entering the Cowboys' starting lineup after his replacement, Connor McGovern, struggled even more badly than Williams himself. A former second-round pick who slid from tackle to guard after entering the pros, Williams perhaps still has untapped upside if a new offensive line coach can get through to him in a way Dallas' coaches could not. He seems extremely unlikely to be back with the Cowboys.
Laken Tomlinson played 100 percent of the 49ers' snaps last season, and with the team likely transitioning to Trey Lance under center, they will likely want to retain an important piece along the line. If they decide to go in another direction, however, then it would make a lot of sense for the Miami Dolphins to take a look at Tomlinson, being that former Niners offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel is now the head coach down south.
Ted Karras returned from Miami to New England prior to last season and played both left and right guard for the Patriots. He'd previously filled in at center when the Patriots lost David Andrews to injury. He's exactly the type of flexible interior lineman that New England values, and you'd figure the Patriots would try to bring him back for another go-round. If not, his versatility would make him attractive to numerous suitors.
Austin Corbett is another former second-round pick, but is a couple years ahead of Williams on the career clock. He already moved on from his first team (the Cleveland Browns) and resurrected his career elsewhere. He's turned into a perfectly fine starting guard, even if he's likely pretty replaceable. A team looking to go the route that the Bills have over the last few seasons would be wise to target him on a mid-range contract.
Mark Glowinski has been solid as a full-time starter in Indianapolis. The Colts depend on their offensive line to be the foundation of the rushing attack, but the money they have already devoted to Quenton Nelson, Ryan Kelly, and Braden Smith might make them unable to retain Glowinski. Teams that miss out on higher-market targets should take a long look at Glowinski as a plug-and-play starter.
Trai Turner is no longer at the top of his game, but he's still a solid player. He performed well in Pittsburgh last season and is a good option for any team looking for guard help.