Patriots

NFL free agents 2022: Ranking the top 10 offensive linemen

Patriots

The New England Patriots have a couple of significant question marks on their offensive line heading into the 2022 offseason.

Offensive tackle Trent Brown and guard Ted Karras are set to become unrestricted free agents in March. Left tackle Isaiah Wynn is entering the final year of his deal.

More 2022 free agents: QB | RBWR | TE | LB | EDGE | CB | S

As Bill Belichick looks ahead to free agency and the 2022 NFL Draft, addressing those issues should be a priority. Brown and Karras likely will be near the top of Belichick's list of players to re-sign, and he'll want to assess the future of the left tackle spot while he's at it.

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If Belichick looks to the free-agent market to improve his offensive line, here are the top players set to become available.

10. Connor Williams, G

Age: 25

Williams' talent is undeniable, but penalties haunted him throughout the 2021 season in Dallas. He led the NFL with a whopping 14 penalties during the regular season and committed two more in the Cowboys' wild-card loss to the San Francisco 49ers. That isn't ideal. Statistically, though, he's elite as a pass-protector and that should be enough to earn him a solid deal this spring.

9. Trent Brown, OT

Age: 29

Brown is undoubtedly one of the game's top tackles when healthy. Unfortunately for the Patriots, that hasn't been all that often. The 6-foot-8, 360-pounder suffered a calf injury in the 2021 season opener and missed the next eight games. Between New England and the Las Vegas Raiders, Brown has played in only 27 of the past 49 regular-season games. The Patriots will have to decide whether paying Brown big money this offseason will be a good use of their resources with so many other glaring needs throughout the roster.

 

8. Eric Fisher, OT

Age: 31

Coming off a torn Achilles, Fisher had his fair share of struggles in 2021 with the Colts. The two-time Pro Bowler struggled in pass-protection but still managed to fare well as a run blocker. As he enters his age 31 season, the biggest question is whether he'll look more like himself in 2022 with two years removed from the Achilles injury.

7. James Daniels, G

Age: 24

Daniels, a 2018 second-round pick for the Chicago Bears, enjoyed his best season yet in 2021. After spending the last few years switching between center and guard, Daniels played all 17 games last season at right guard. His youth and versatility as an interior lineman will make him a highly-coveted option this offseason.

6. Duane Brown, OT

Age: 37

Even as he approaches his age 37 season, Brown is an above-average left tackle who can expect plenty of attention on the free-agent market. The five-time Pro Bowler struggled to begin 2021 but returned to form and turned in yet another rock-solid campaign. While his age might be a turn-off, Brown proved he still has plenty left in the tank.

5. Laken Tomlinson, G

Age: 30

We can expect the 49ers to make re-signing Tomlinson a priority this offseason. The 2015 first-round pick is coming off his first Pro Bowl season, during which he allowed only two sacks. He also played a major role in making San Francisco one of the most efficient rushing teams in the NFL.

UPDATE (March 14): Tomlinson is signing with the New York Jets on a three-year contract.

4. Brandon Scherff, G

Age: 30

Injuries are the only real concern with Scherff. When he's been healthy, Washington has had one of the best guards in the game. The five-time Pro Bowler allowed zero sacks last season.

UPDATE (March 14): Scherff is joining the Jacksonville Jaguars in free agency.

3. Ryan Jensen, C

Age: 30

Jensen has played in every single game since joining the Buccaneers in 2017. The Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champion is one of Tampa Bay's many free agents this offseason, so it's likely he'll be heading elsewhere for 2022. Whoever lands Jensen will get one of the most durable and reliable centers in the NFL.

UPDATE (March 13): Jensen is headed back to the Bucs on a three-year contract.

2. Orlando Brown Jr., OT

Age: 25

Brown has proven to be one of the biggest steals of the 2018 NFL Draft. Selected in the third round, the three-time Pro Bowler hasn't missed a game since taking over full-time halfway through his rookie season. His stellar play continued after being traded from the Ravens to the Chiefs in 2021, making him a likely extension candidate for Kansas City this offseason.

 

UPDATE (March 8): The Chiefs have placed the franchise tag on Brown.

1. Terron Armstead, OT

Age: 30

Armstead is one of the biggest names hitting free agency this offseason. The three-time Pro Bowler is likely going to find a new home after spending all nine of his seasons in New Orleans. He'll be the most coveted tackle on the market, but his health is a major red flag. Armstead has never played a full NFL season and missed nine games due to injury last year. Regardless, plenty of teams will gladly take on that risk given his elite talent.

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Honorable mentions: Ben Jones, Jason Peters, Alex Cappa, Andrew Norwell, Quinton Spain.