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Free Agency Primer 2018: Offensive Line

Posted Mar 9, 2018

Guard could be a need with Alex Boone, Earl Watford set to hit free agency

The Cardinals are embarking on a new era under Steve Wilks. In the ensuing months, they will identify their new starting quarterback and fill other positions of need. The first crack at re-shaping the roster will come in free agency, which begins on March 14. We’ll break down each position as it draws near.

Free agent primer: Offensive Line

More free agent analysis: QB I CB I WR I DL I TE I LB I ST I RB

Cap hit of players under contract for 2018 (via T Jared Veldheer ($10.15 million); G Mike Iupati ($9.7 million); T D.J. Humphries ($2.84 million); C A.Q. Shipley ($2.36 million); G/C Evan Boehm ($756,621); C Max Tuerk ($630,000); T Will Holden ($622,036); C Josh Allen ($630,000)

Scheduled free agents: G Alex Boone, G Earl Watford, T Khalif Barnes, T Vinston Painter (restricted), C Daniel Munyer (exclusive rights); T John Wetzel (exclusive rights)

Need: Medium

Analysis: Injuries hit the offensive line hard the past few seasons, and the constant reshuffling took its toll on the overall performance of the group. The Cardinals have a cornerstone left tackle in Humphries, which is a great place to start. The former first-round pick has battled injuries each of the last two seasons, and it would be a huge boost to keep Humphries on the field for all 16 games this year. The other bookend is Veldheer, who heads into the final season of a five-year contract. He has also been good when healthy, but has missed 11 of 32 games the past two seasons.

Shipley has been the most stable piece on the line the past two years, starting all 32 games in that span, and will enter the final season of his deal aiming to retain his role as the starting center. He could be pushed by Boehm, who has been in and out of the lineup at guard in his first two years in the NFL but naturally plays center.

The guard spots are the most volatile. Iupati is a former Pro Bowler but he played only one game last season due to an elbow injury. Boone and Watford were the starters for the majority of the season but each are scheduled to become free agents.

Munyer and Wetzel are exclusive rights free agents, while Tuerk, Holden and Allen are under contract and will aim to impress the new coaching staff.  General Manager Steve Keim has talked frequently about the challenge offensive linemen have coming from college, so free agency could be a more likely avenue to fill a hole than the draft.

Notable past free agent offensive line signings by the Cardinals: Boone (2017); Watford (2017); Evan Mathis (2016); Iupati (2015); Shipley (2015); Veldheer (2014); Ted Larsen (2014); Eric Winston (2013); Adam Snyder (2012); Daryn Colledge (2011); Rex Hadnot (2010); Mike Gandy (2007); Al Johnson (2007); Milford Brown (2006); Oliver Ross (2005); Pete Kendall (2001); Mike Gruttadauria (2000); Lester Holmes (1998); Lomas Brown (1996).

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