clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The 5 O’Clock Club: Playing GM - a look at more free agent guards and centers

New, comments

It’s 5 o’clock somewhere…

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

The 5 o’clock club aims to provide a forum for reader-driven discussion at a time of day when there isn’t much NFL news being published. Feel free to introduce topics that interest you in the comments below.

We all know that teams will announce most of the re-signings of their 2017 players in the week between the end of the Combine and the start of the new year, so I want to finish up the “a look at free agents” series before the list of available players starts changing hourly. The Redskins have already announced the re-signing of two of their players, and this week saw a high profile player tagged -- Jarvis Landry of the Dolphins. My plan is to publish a look at free agents daily from today through Saturday the 3rd in an attempt to highlight as many free agents as possible ahead of the new league year, which starts at 4 p.m. on 14 March.

The Redskins need a left guard

It’s certainly no secret that the Redskins need to upgrade the Left Guard position; Doug Williams said it in as many words during an interview at the Combine this weekend.

One might wonder why, with Chase Roullier on the roster, the ‘Skins might consider a Center in free agency. Basically, Roullier should be capable of playing guard or center — he played both positions in college — not to mention that most of the free agent centers in the NFL have the same positional flexibility.

Guards are perhaps the cheapest starting players on NFL rosters, so it can make good salary-cap sense to use free agency to fill roster holes at guard, and use early-round draft picks on more expensive “skill” positions.

Guards

Josh Kline, Titans, Patriots

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Height: 6’3”

Weight: 300 pounds

Age: 28

Entry to NFL: Undrafted Free Agent, 2013 (New England Patriots)

Contract:

According to OverTheCap, Josh Kline has been playing on a 2-year contract:

According to Spotrac, if Josh Kline were signed in free agency he would get a 3 year, $30.6m contract ($10.2m):

There are clear limitations with the Spotrac website and its ability to accurately project salaries. Click here for a long discussion thread to demonstrate how divisive it can be. Here’s one of the final comments from the thread:

Is this website trustworthy at all? This number is a joke and yesterday it had Avery making 9.1 million.

Those numbers are not even close to the real value of these players. They might factor age and stuff but do they factor skill at all??

I wouldn’t pay more than 4 mil for Kline. He’s average at best.

Comments:

Kline will become an unrestricted free agent in March. The Titans signed him when the Patriots waived him in September of 2016. If Tennessee doesn’t bring him back, he is reported to be a free-agent target of the Atlanta Falcons or Dallas Cowboys.

For the past five years, Kline has been a respectable pass protector. According to Pro Football Focus, last season he only allowed 19 quarterback pressures on Marcus Mariota.

Kline won’t break the bank like Andrew Norwell or the other high-profile free agents at guard this year. He’s also only missed four games over the last three seasons.

Kline recently turned 28 years old, so before too long he will be approaching the age of 30, when most NFL players begin to decline – if their athletic abilities haven’t already significantly fallen off. He’s also not the greatest run blocker of all time

2017 PFF rating: 75.8 – No. 22 among guards

Kevin Pamphile, Buccaneers

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Height: 6’5”

Weight: 310 pounds

Age: 27

Entry to NFL: 5th round, 2014 draft

Contract:

Pamphile has been with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for his entire career, and is now at the end of his rookie contract. Here are the contract details from OTC:

Comments:

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers lack of depth on the offensive line is a huge concern right now. As a whole, the offensive line is struggling with pass protection and opening wholes for Doug Martin and the running back corps. As a result, the running game has struggled immensely throughout the entire season. So, the Bucs may decide to part ways with a few offensive linemen in an effort to dip into the talent pool and bring in fresh playmakers.

The left side of the Buccaneers’ line was a real problem area, with the play of LT Donovan Smith proving to be a real issue. Smith surrendered 57 total QB pressures and 14 penalties over his season, with Kevin Pamphile inside of him chipping in with 32 pressures of his own.

Centers

Weston Richburg, Giants

NFL: Preseason-Miami Dolphins at New York Giants William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports

Height: 6’4”

Weight: 300 pounds

Age: 26

Entry to NFL: 43rd overall, 2nd round (New York Giants)

Contract:

Weston Richburg has played his entire career with the GIants. Here are his rookie contract details from OTC:

Comments:

Weston Richburg is unlikely to re-sign with the New York Giants on some kind of hometown discount despite his injury-plagued 2017 season.

According to ESPN’s Jordan Raanan, multiple teams he has checked in still view Richburg as a quality starter, and in a free agent market depressed without many quality options on the offensive line, this could be enough to warrant him a massive contract offer.

I checked in with a pair of teams on free-agent center Weston Richburg. They still view the 2014 second-round pick as a quality starter. That bodes well for Richburg, who started slowly and missed 12 games this season because of a concussion.

The Giants have a big decision to make with Richburg this offseason. The former early second-round pick was an elite center back in 2015, but injuries have plagued him over the past two seasons and he hasn’t been the same player. Making matters more confusing is the fact that his replacement, Brett Jones, emerged as one of the NFL’s best pass-blocking centers after taking over for Richburg.

Zach Fulton, Chiefs

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Carolina Panthers Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Height: 6’5”

Weight: 316 pounds

Age: 26

Entry to NFL: 6th round, 2014 draft (Kansas City Chiefs)

Contract:

Fulton has spent his entire career with the Chiefs. Here are the details of his rookie contract from OTC:

Fulton may be worth more than some fans realize. A 26-year-old lineman with 46 games of starting experience that can play almost every offensive line position is valuable. I could see him earning a four-year deal worth $25-30 million, with about half that guaranteed.

At least one person at ChiefWire believes that he’s worth $6m to $7.5m per year.

Comments:

2017 stats (via Pro Football Focus)

Zach Fulton

846 snaps — 634 at center, 150 at left guard, 62 at right guard

12 pressures allowed — one hit, 11 hurries

These comments are from Fansided:

Fulton has proven that he is a much better center than he is a left guard, the smaller the “phone booth” is for him the more he can lock opposing players down with his raw strength. Since Fulton has had more success as a center, I would expect he will be looking to be paid as one. When looking at the center position it is a little bit more, but not by much. The top ten centers yearly average is 8,929,293 and the top 15 centers yearly average is 7,729,717. Zach Fulton was rated by PFF as the 14th ranked center in the league so he should be looking to get somewhere around that 7.8 million a year.

Fulton will most likely be looking to go somewhere that is willing to give him a chance to be a starter

Spencer Long, Redskins

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Washington Redskins Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Height: 6’4”

Weight: 315 pounds

Age: 27

Entry to NFL: 3rd round, 2014 draft (Washington Redskins)

Contract:

Long has spent his entire career with the ‘Skins. Here are the details of his rookie contract from OTC:

Comments:

Spencer Long was drafted by the Redskins and played LG before moving to Center in 2016. The consensus is that Long played better at the Center position than at LG, though that may have simply been the extra year of NFL development. When he was injured in 2017, Chase Roullier took over at Center and played well, especially for a rookie.

The Redskins public comments have demonstrated a surprising lack of support for Spencer Long, and little interest in re-signing him. I’m not sure why this is; as a Redskin draft pick who spent the 2017 season injured, he seems to be the offensive player equivalent of Trent Murphy -- a guy who is competent, affordable, and home-grown.

John Sullivan, Rams, Redskins, Vikings

Los Angeles Rams v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Height: 6’4”

Weight: 301 pounds

Age: 32

Entry to NFL: 6th round, 2008 draft

Contract:

According to OTC, John Sullivan played the 2017 season for the Rams for one dollar less than $1m.

Comments:

John Sullivan started 87 games for Minnesota from 2009 to 2014, before he was cut by the Vikings after he missed the entire 2015 season with injury. He joined the Redskins mid-season in 2016 and provided an insurance policy when the team needed depth at the center position in that year.

Sean McVay took him to Los Angeles, and Sullivan started 15 games for the NFC West division champions last year.

Sullivan is a career Center, and while he is 32 years old, he played at a high level for the Rams in 2017 (10th ranked Center by PFF). If he makes it to free agency, he could be an excellent option to help the Redskins shore up their offensive line for a season or two while they spend money & draft resources taking care of other areas of need.

If John Sullivan is available in free agency, I, for one, would leap at the opportunity to bring him back to the Redskins. Let Roullier play left guard for a season or two while Sullivan provides a low-cost veteran presence in the middle of the offensive line. The Redskins could pay him triple what he earned playing for the Rams last season and still be getting a salary-cap bargain.

Poll

If you were to sign one free agent from the group of player highlighted in this article, who would you choose?

This poll is closed

  • 7%
    Josh Kline, Titans
    (29 votes)
  • 2%
    Kevin Pamphile, Buccaneers
    (9 votes)
  • 6%
    Weson Richburg, Giants
    (23 votes)
  • 29%
    Zach Fulton, Chiefs
    (112 votes)
  • 37%
    Spencer Long, Redskins
    (142 votes)
  • 16%
    John Sullivan, Rams
    (62 votes)
377 votes total Vote Now