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NFL free agency: Quality OTs still sitting out there


One of the Eagles biggest needs heading into this free agency period was on the offensive line. The unit was terrible last season thanks in large part to injuries, but simply relying on those injured players to get healthy may not be the best strategy for 2013.

LT Jason Peters is an All Pro talent, but is coming off a twice torn achilles injury. It will be nearly a year and half since that injury when the season comes, but it's a rough enough injury that there should be serious questions about his career going forward.

C Jason Kelce tore his ACL and MCL and while everything seems to think this is no big deal after Adrian Peterson's big season coming off similar injuries... believe me it is. Especially for a lineman expected to be anchoring blocks. He thinks he'll be ready for camps, but he only started running last month.

Todd Herremans suffered a dislocated bone in his foot and seems to be the most likely of the guys mentioned so far to be completely back to 100% health. Still, there are serious questions about his level of play even before the injury last year and whether tackle is the best spot for.

Then of course, there's Danny Watkins who missed time with a foot injury that has evidently bothered him since college. However, that's probably not even the biggest concern with him since he's yet to really prove he can play in this league.

So at best, the Eagles offensive line is full of question marks. At worst, it's maybe only marginally better than last season. But there is help still left out there in free agency and it may be getting cheaper by the day.

Jake Long, Andre Smith, Eric Winston and Sebastian Vollmer all looked likely to be a few of the first names snapped up when free agency began on Tuesday, yet here we are on Sunday afternoon and all are still out there for the taking. Let's take a quick look at each.

Jake Long - It appeared as though he was on the verge of signing with the Rams after going through a battery of physicals but the former all pro left town without signing a deal. NFLN reports that he's still got an offer on the table from St. Louis as well as one from his former team, the Miami Dolphins. At one time, he was seen as one of the top OTs in the NFL, but injuries these past two seasons have seriously limited his effectiveness.

Eric Winston - The veteran was a surprise cut of the Chiefs prior to the start of free agency but the interest in him seems to be tepid at best. He's reportedly visited the Chargers and could be Miami's backup plan should Jake Long leave.

Andre Smith - Like Winston, Smith is a right tackle by trade and more of a run blocker than a pass blocker... but he's also younger and with more upside. After a rough start to his career, Smith has started to blossom these past couple seasons. As far as fit here, there are certainly questions as to whether he would have the conditioning or athleticism to play in Chip Kelly's uptempo offense.

Sebastian Vollmer - Probably the guy out of all the available OTs that would make for the most natural fit in Chip Kelly's system. The Patriots emulated Kelly's uptemo style last season and Vollmer really had a great season. You really have to wonder whether he's waiting for Smith or Long to set the market. If the price is coming down on a guy like Vollmer, he could be a steal.

One potential issue that has kept these guys from signing is price, which was seemingly set by the Bears' signing of Jermon Bushrod to a 5 year 36 million deal. Guys like Long, Vollmer and Smith have a decent argument that they're better and more valuable players than the pretty average Bushrod. So have they been holding out looking for someone more lucrative than his deal, while the rest of the league just isn't as desperate as the Bears are aren't willing to pay?

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