NFL free agents 2020: Top 10 offensive linemen
In the modern NFL, there's arguably nothing more important than offensive line play. Sure, having a top-tier quarterback with great mobility like Russell Wilson or Deshaun Watson can help cover up a spotty offensive line, but without solid blocking, teams don't often go far.
The New England Patriots learned that firsthand at times last year. They lost starting center David Andrews for the season due to blood clots in his lungs and were missing left tackle Isaiah Wynn for half of the season with a toe injury.
This offseason, the Patriots have a key free agent on the offensive line who they're going to have to try to retain. And if they decide they need some extra talent or depth at any position, they could look to add someone from a fairly strong free-agent offensive line class.
Here's a look at the top 10 free agents set to hit the market this offseason.
1. Joe Thuney, Guard
2019 stats: 16 games played, zero penalties, one sacks allowed
2019 salary: $2 million
Thuney is one of the best and most versatile offensive linemen on the open market this offseason. He has been superb as a pass blocker, can play any position on the offensive line as needed, and has been a true iron-man, playing at least 99.2 percent of the Patriots snaps in each of his four seasons as a starter.
UPDATE (March 16): The Patriots have decided to place the franchise tag on Thuney.
2. Anthony Castonzo, Tackle
2019 stats: 16 games played, two penalties, three sacks allowed
2019 salary: $6.25 million
Castonzo entered the league in 2011 as a first-round pick by the Indianapolis Colts out of Boston College. Selected five picks after Nate Solder, Castonzo has long been one of the league's more solid and consistent offensive linemen. He has started 132 career games and played 100 percent of the snaps in 2019. Unless he retires, Castonzo will be the best free-agent tackle available.
UPDATE (March 15): Castonzo has agreed to rejoin the Colts on a two-year deal worth $33 million, according to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, ensuring that the Colts will have all five of their 2019 starters returning to the team in 2020.
3. Brandon Scherff, Guard
2019 stats: 11 games played, nine penalties, one sack allowed
2019 salary: $12.5 million
If not for injuries, Scherff could've been the top offensive lineman on this list. Over the course of the past few seasons, he has battled injuries and has missed 15 of 48 games and has been less than 100 percent for many others. Still, when healthy, the former No. 5 overall pick in 2015 and three-time Pro Bowler is one of the best run blocking guards in the league.
UPDATE (March 16): The Redskins have placed the franchise tag on Brandon Scherff.
4. Jack Conklin, Tackle
2019 stats: 16 games played, seven penalties, four sacks allowed
2019 salary: $2.6 million
Speaking of inury-prone players coming off a down year, Conklin had an up-and-down season in 2019 while playing right tackle for the Titans. That said, he stayed healthy in 2019 and is now two years removed from an ACL injury suffered against the Patriots in the 2018 postseason. Conklin should be truly healthy heading into 2020 and could return to the All-Pro form he flashed as a rookie.
UPDATE (March 16): Conklin will be joining the Cleveland Browns to be their right tackle. Per ESPN's Adam Schefter, he'll be signing a three-year deal worth $42 million with $30 million guaranteed.
5. Bryan Bulaga, Tackle
2019 stats: 16 games played, six penalties, four sacks allowed
2019 salary: $5.8 million
Bulaga has been one of the best right tackles in football over the course of his career. The question has always been about his health. This season, he played 16 regular-season games for the first time since 2016 and played a big part in the Packers' vastly improved running game and offense.
UPDATE (March 17): Bulaga has agreed to a three-year, $30 million contract with the Los Angeles Chargers.
6. Connor McGovern, Center
2019 stats: 16 games played, zero penalties, one sack allowed
2019 salary: $2 million
Though McGovern was just a fifth-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, he has developed into a very solid starter on the interior offensive line. He was an excellent pass blocker for the Denver Broncos and played 99.8 percent of the team's snaps in 2019. McGovern would be higher on this list if he had more than two years of starting experience, but he's certainly the top free-agent center in this year's class.
UPDATE (March 17): McGovern has reached agreement with the Jets on a three-year, $27 million contract.
7. Jason Peters, Tackle
2019 stats: 13 games played, 10 penalties, three sacks allowed
2019 salary: $3.5 million
Peters has been an All-Pro twice and has made it to nine Pro Bowls during his playing career. Peters is still a very strong all-around blocker but the potential for regression ahead of his age-38 season will keep him from climbing higher on this list, especially after he dealt with nagging injuries that affected his 2019 performance.
8. Kelvin Beachum, Tackle
2019 stats: 13 games played, nine penalties, four sacks allowed
2019 salary: $8 million
Beachum was arguably the most important player on the Jets offense aside from Sam Darnold. When the Jets were without Darnold or Beachum last season, they had an 0-6 record and averaged just 197.7 yards and 9.3 points per game. When both were healthy, the Jets averaged 329.1 yards and 22.7 points per contest en route to a 7-2 record.
9. Graham Glasgow, Guard/Center
2019 stats: 15 games played, three penalties, zero sacks allowed
2019 salary: $2 million
A versatile interior lineman, Glasgow has started at left guard, center, and right guard during his four-year tenure with the Detroit Lions. He has played in 62 of 64 career games and in excellent in pass protection, only allowing one sack in the past two seasons combined.
UPDATE (March 16): Glasgow is set to join the Denver Broncos on a four-year, $44 million deal, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
10. Matt Feiler, Tackle (RFA)
2019 stats: 16 games played, three penalties, four sacks allowed
2019 salary: $645k
Feiler took over as the full-time starter for the Steelers last season and didn't disappoint while taking over for Marcus Gilbert. Feiler has only made 27 career starters and all but one of them have come in the past two years. He's worth investing in as he should continue to improve.
UPDATE (March 17): The Steelers have placed the second-round tender on Feiler.