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Free Agent Primer 2024: Offensive Line

Left tackle in question after Humphries injury; Cardinals morphed into top running team


After finishing his first season as a head coach with a 4-13 record, Jonathan Gannon said that while he was pleased with the teams’ fight, it simply wasn’t good enough. Now that those in the locker room and throughout the league have an idea how a Gannon-Monti Ossenfort regime operates, they'll look to build a playoff contender through free agency and the draft. The new league year begins on March 13, and with that comes free agency. Here's the second of 11 position breakdowns.

Free Agent primer schedule: OL Feb. 21; QB Feb. 22; ILB Feb. 23; ST Feb. 24; WR Feb. 26; CB March 4; RB March 5; S March 6; TE March 7, OLB March 8

Other free-agent primers: DL

Cap hit of players under contract for 2024 (via LT D.J. Humphries ($22,876,666), RT Paris Johnson Jr. ($6,375,599), RG Will Hernandez ($5,325,000), C Hjalte Froholdt ($3,785,000), T Kelvin Beachum ($2,577,500), T Dennis Daley ($1,775,000), C Jon Gaines ($1,098,060), G Jackson Barton ($985,000) G Carter O'Donnell ($915,000), OL Marquis Hayes ($795,000), OL Austen Pleasants ($795,000)

Scheduled free agents: LG Elijah Wilkinson, LG Trystan Colon, C Keith Ismael, C Pat Elflein

Need: High

Analysis: While the offensive line might not appear on the stat sheet, any time a running back can rush for 1,040 yards in just 13 games a considerable amount of credit has to be given towards the big guys on the line. The Cardinals finished third in the league running the ball, rushing for nearly 140 yards per game.

How the left side of the Cardinals offensive line is crafted will be intriguing as the offseason rolls on.

Until he was placed on injured reserve with a neck injury, Elijah Wilkinson was the Cardinals starting left guard. When he returned, there was a revolving door at the position between Wilkinson, Trystan Colon and Carter O'Donnell. Colon and Wilkinson are scheduled free agents.

Left tackle D.J. Humphries tore his ACL in Week 17 against the Eagles. Humphries is expected to be out a large part of the 2024 season, and the Cardinals will be tasked with the decision of what to do there. Flip Paris Johnson Jr. from right tackle to left tackle? Keep Kelvin Beachum at the bookend until Humphries is healthy? Or find one in free agency?

The draft is also an intriguing option, with tackle seen as one of the deepest positions this year.

Notable past free agent offensive lineman signings: Froholdt (2023), Hernandez (2022), Beachum (2020); Justin Pugh (2018); Andre Smith (2018); Alex Boone (2017); Earl Watford (2017); Evan Mathis (2016); Mike Iupati (2015); A.Q. Shipley (2015); Jared 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).

A look at some of the top offensive linemen across the NFL who are scheduled to become free agents in mid-March