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Observing 2017’s Left Tackle Market

There was a fair amount of news yesterday regarding the status of multiple left tackles as the 2016 league year wraps down.  Cameron Wolfe added to the conversation by expressing proper skepticism on Russell Okung’s four year option being picked up. With the possibility that the Broncos will be looking for a new left tackle for 2017, I thought it would be instructive to take a look at where all 32 teams stand at the position so that it’s easier to reference what possibilities the Broncos have in changing up the position.

Teams that are set at left tackle

There’s little need to go beyond listing these teams and who they have at the position.  They are the following: Bills (Cordy Glenn), Ravens (Ronnie Stanley), Browns (Joe Thomas), Steelers (Alejandro Villanueva), Texans (Duane Brown), Colts (Anthony Castonzo), Titans (Taylor Lewan), Chiefs (Eric Fisher), Cowboys (Tyron Smith), Giants (Ereck Flowers)*, Redskins (Trent Williams), Lions (Taylor Decker), Packers (David Bakhtiari), Falcons (Jake Matthews), Saints (Terron Armstead), Bucs (Donovan Smith), Cardinals (Jared Veldheer), 49ers (Joe Staley)

Teams that may be one year away from needing a replacement

The Patriots (Nate Solder), Raiders (Donald Penn), and Bears (Charles Leno, Jr.) all have incumbent left tackles that have one year remaining on their contracts. While I would not expect any three of these teams to be active in the free agent market, they could be active in the draft. However, since the Broncos (unfortunately) are picking ahead of the Patriots and Raiders, and the Bears are unlikely to pick a left tackle at 3rd overall, Denver will likely have an opportunity to beat all three teams to a rookie 1st round left tackle if the board justifies such a pick.  In later rounds, however, they could be in competition with these teams.

Teams that have a replacement at left tackle in the queue

Here’s where observation can get more serious.

Teams that may need a replacement at left tackle

  • Broncos. We fans know well about Russell Okung’s situation–for any that may not be familiar, while Okung is a competent left tackle, his current contract calls for him to be paid like an elite left tackle, so the Broncos possibly parting ways has more to do with compensation than production.
  • Chargers. King Dunlap may be past his prime as part of a line that’s mightily struggled in recent years.
  • Panthers. Michael Oher is still in the concussion protocol from last season, and even then, Carolina may have a similar problem to Denver in the production not meeting the compensation
  • Rams. Greg Robinson has not lived up to his billing as the 2nd overall pick thus far.
  • Seahawks. Seattle went through a comedy of errors rotating in players at both tackle positions until finally settling on undrafted rookie George Fant on the left side.

Teams that will need a replacement at left tackle.

With each team’s needs identified, as well as a list of possible veteran player options established, let’s now group these teams and players together

Competing teams at the left tackle market

Guaranteed Possible
FA & Draft FA only Draft only
Jets Broncos Seahawks Patriots
Jaguars Chargers  Giants Raiders
Vikings Panthers Bears

Again, Minnesota, Jacksonville, and the New York Jets will be the primary teams to bid against.  I find it doubtful that Seattle will draft another tackle as they took Germain Ifedi in the first round last year, and will also see if Fant can hold down the job in his second year.  And again, I do not expect New England, Oakland, or Chicago to be major players in free agency.

*UPDATE (Feb. 17) – There appears to be discussion suggesting that the Giants aren’t happy with Flowers at LT, and may try to shift him elsewhere if they get a veteran LT option.  I’ve thus added the Giants as a possible FA-only competitor.

Available veteran players in the left tackle market

Guaranteed Possible
Ryan Clady Russell Okung
Kelvin Beachum King Dunlap
Ryan Kalil Michael Oher
Andrew Whitworth Jason Peters
 Branden Albert

I do not expect the Rams to part ways with Robinson, as he is locked in at a fully guaranteed $3.2 million salary. They will most likely try to see if they can get anything out of him in a (likely) contract year.  The other option would be to trade him, but as we know trades are much more difficult to pull off than they are to envision

Available players in the draft

I’ll leave this category up to contributors here that are more expert on the draft that I am.

So there’s a broad overview of where the league stands at left tackle.  Given this knowledge, what do you want the Broncos to do?