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Free Agent Primer 2022: Offensive Line

Cardinals have decisions to make up front

FA primer OL

During the official Super Bowl handoff ceremony last month, Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill expressed his Super Bowl aspirations for the 2022 season. Cardinals GM Steve Keim must fill several holes on the roster this offseason to make that happen. With the free agency period beginning on March 16, the sixth position group breakdown is here.

Free-agent primer: Offensive Line

Other free-agent primers: WR, S, ST, TE, CB

Cap hit of players under contract for 2022 (via T D.J. Humphries ($19.3 million); C Rodney Hudson ($12.6 million); G Justin Pugh ($11.8 million); G Justin Murray ($2.6 million); T Kelvin Beachum ($2.4 million); G/T Josh Jones ($1.3 million); G Sean Harlow ($965,000); T Josh Miles ($983,644); G Eric Smith ($895,000); G Danny Isidora ($895,000); C Marcus Henry ($825,000); G Koda Martin ($705,000).

Scheduled free agents: G Max Garcia

Need: Medium

Analysis: GM Steve Keim will take a close look at his offensive line this offseason. Like the rest of the offense, the line looked great through the first half of the season, but production faded when injuries and positive Covid tests became an issue. Both ingredients forced the Cardinals to use 10 different lineup combinations.

Overall, though, quarterback Kyler Murray's sack total (31) tied for the league's fourth-fewest. The line unit also finished 12th in ESPN's Team Pass Block Win Rate.

Left tackle D.J. Humphries had his first Pro Bowl appearance (an injury replacement) and the Cardinals need him to play at a high level. Left guard Justin Pugh also had a nice season, but with a big salary cap number the Cardinals could look at his contract for a second straight year.

Center and offensive line captain Rodney Hudson had a strong first season in the desert. Kelvin Beachum put together another productive campaign at right tackle. Justin Murray only suited up in three games because of a back injury. Josh Jones struggled at the right guard position, but the second-year player out of Houston will continue to develop. The Cardinals see him long-term as a right tackle.

Max Garcia (named a Pro Bowl alternate) impressed most of the season as a replacement when Jones dealt with injuries. The veteran also had 299 snaps at center. Garcia knows the offense and is a nice depth piece capable of lining up at all three interior guard positions. The reasons why the organization could retain the veteran this offseason if the price is right.

Notable past free agent offensive line signings: Beachum (2020); Sweezy (2019); 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).

Images of some of the top free agent offensive linemen scheduled to hit the open market.