When free agency opens March 11, the Redskins will have about $30 million in cap space and lots of holes to fill. Over the next few weeks, Redskins Insiders Tarik El-Bashir will examine the field of potential free agents, by position, and evaluate who might be a fit in Washington.
Today, we’re looking at offensive tackles.
Background: There’s a lot of blame to go around when a team finishes 3-13. And the offensive line certainly deserves its fair share. Left tackle Trent Williams earned a second straight Pro Bowl berth, but even he struggled through a pair of rough efforts. Still, Williams is a captain and cornerstone and won’t be going anywhere for a long time. On the other side, right tackle Tyler Polumbus made some meaningful strides in his second season as a full-time starter, particularly in the pass blocking dept. He’s also only 28 years old and remains under contract for 2014. But it should be noted that Polumbus was a favorite of Mike Shanahan; Jay Gruden has no such allegiances and might decide to kick some tires in free agency.
Best available: Eugene Monroe, Ravens. The 6-foot-5, 306-pound left tackle is regarded by many as the best available free agent at his position. Acquired midseason from Jacksonville for draft picks, Monroe proved that he can be trusted to protect Joe Flacco’s blind side. There’s just one problem for teams that covet him: The 26-year-old may not actually hit the open market. It’s been reported in recent months that the Ravens intend to re-sign Monroe to an extension.
Best fit: Anthony Collins, Bengals. Although the 6-5, 315-pounder has spent the majority of his six seasons in Cincinnati as a backup, he’s been pressed into the starting lineup 25 times, including 12 starts at right tackle from 2008-12 and eight starts at left tackle last season. He hasn’t allowed a sack since Week 4 of the 2009 season, a span of over 700 pass block plays, according to ProFootballFocus.com. And, oh yeah, Collins knows the Redskins’ new boss pretty well.
Best of the rest: Branden Albert (Chiefs) is coming off a Pro Bowl year at left tackle and will cost too much for the Redskins; Austin Howard (Jets) is 26, 6 foot 7, 333-pounds and has started the past 32 games at right tackle; Michael Oher (Ravens) is 27 and can play both right and left tackle but is coming off an uneven year; Rodger Saffold (Rams) is 25, 6-5, 332 and can play guard and tackle; Zach Strief (Saints) is 30, 6-7, 320 and has started exclusively at right tackle since 2011.