Free Agent Preview – Offensive Guards

This will serve as the first of four looks at the free agent market at various positions.  This week we take a look at the offensive guard position for the Houston Texans.  The team could look to bring in a high level guard to play on the left side next to second year tackle Julie’n Davenport.

Disclaimer:  Pro Football Focus grades will be listed to provide some context on the player’s performance in 2017.  This is not an end all metric to determine if the player would be worth signing to the roster.  Team offensive schemes and player use will be a strong factor.

Current Roster Players

Player Name 2018 Cap Charge 2017 PFF Grade 2017 Snap %
Jeff Allen $7,375,000 38.4 66.42%
Chad Slade $555,000 59.3 15.15%
Kyle Fuller $572,304 48.1 8.17%
David Quessenberry $480,000 51.0 2.54%

Pending Free Agents: Xavier Su’a-Filo (UFA), Greg Mancz (RFA)

 

Free Agent Field

The free agent class of offensive guards is slim but there are a few possible options for the Texans to look to bolster one of their weakest offensive position groups.  New GM Brian Gaine listed offensive line as one of the team’s priorities for the upcoming offseason.  The table of players below are options the Texans should explore:

Player Name Age FA Status Snap % PFF Grade
Andrew Norwell 26 Unrestricted 100.0% 85.6
Josh Kline 28 Unrestricted 99.9% 75.4
Brandon Fusco 29 Unrestricted 98.5% 76.0
Justin Pugh 27 Unrestricted 40.0% 52.4
Jack Mewhort 26 Unrestricted 30.4% 46.1
Quinton Spain 26 Restricted 85.7% 63.7
James Hurst 26 Unrestricted 99.9% 42.4
D.J. Fluker 26 Unrestricted 41.2% 42.3
Alex Boone 30 Unrestricted 78.1% 35.4
Patrick Omameh 28 Unrestricted 76.3% 48.8

Comments:

Andrew Norwell is likely one of the biggest free agents (league wide) that could possibly hit the free agent market.  Carolina has invested heavily in Matt Kalil (LT) and Trai Turner (RG).  Norwell will likely reset the Guard market commanding more than $25 million in guaranteed money & $12.0 million per year average; those two numbers will be the floor for Norwell’s contract.

Josh Kline has been a solid player in Tennessee since he was claimed off waivers from New England in 2016.  Kline played the 2017 season at right guard playing nearly every single snap in 2017, and 87% of available snaps in 2016.  Kline spent 3 years in New England giving him familiarity with the system Houston runs.  Kline has been very durable and will not command a top tier contract.  Expected value to be $7-$8 million per year with $13-$15 million in guaranteed money.

Jack Mewhort is an under the radar target for the Texans.  Mewhort was drafted by Indianapolis in the 2nd round in 2014.  Mewhort has experienced multiple injuries landing him on injured reserve late in 2016 & most of 2017.  Mewhort graded out as a Top 12 guard in 2014 – 2016.  Due to injury concerns Mewhort may not require as large as contract, he may even be looking for a 1 year prove it contract to regain his value and try for a big contract in 2019.  Mewhort’s value will be similar or slightly under Josh Kline’s value.

Justin Pugh had a rough 2017 season due to injuries.  Pugh was drafted in the 1st round of the 2013 draft by the New York Giants.  Pugh was graded highly by Pro Football Focus for the 2013 through 2016 seasons posting grades of 78 or higher.  Pugh’s 1st round pedigree will increase his market value beyond his performance on the field.  Pugh may fetch $8 million per year but teams may be hesitant to invest a lot of guaranteed money coming off injury.

D.J. Fluker was playing the other guard position opposite of Justin Pugh in New York.  However Fluker would be considered a reclamation project after falling out with the Los Angeles Chargers.  Fluker was the #11 overall draft selection in 2013, but after a poor performance LA opted not to extend Fluker but instead released him in March 2017.  Teams would definitely be looking to only give Fluker a 1 year contract to prove he can be worth a long term investment.  Value wouldn’t be more than $1.5 – $2 million.

Patrick Omameh entered the league in 2013 with San Francisco as an undrafted free agent.  Omameh bounced around with San Francisco, Tampa Bay, and Chicago before settling down in Jacksonville in 2016.  Omameh has been pretty durable with strong snap counts in 2016 & 2017.  Omameh posted a solid 75.5 grade in 2016 before the drop off in grading in 2017.  If Omameh fits the Texans scheme he could be a value player at $4 million per year.

Stop Gap Options

Alex Boone is 30 years old after a successful career in San Francisco, but has been playing on one year contracts the last two seasons.  Boone had a good stretch of grading with Pro Football Focus, from 2010 through 2016, posting a grade of 70.4 or better.  I am not sure the exact reason for the fall off in grading for the 2017 season.  Boone could be a stop gap solution at a low value of $1.5 million or less.

Joe Berger just finished his season in Minnesota and could very well retire now that he is 35 years old.  Berger is extremely durable and continues to defy the odds at his age.  The Texans could potential land Berger on a one year contract worth $5 million if Berger chooses to continue playing.

Luke Joeckel received an $8 million contract from Seattle in 2017 which shocked pretty much everyone.  Joeckel originally drafted #2 overall as a tackle, transitioned to Guard duty in Seattle last year.  The team would have likely exhaust many options before turning to Joeckel as a possible option.

Final Comments

The Texans definitely need to invest in their offensive line in 2018; but breaking the bank on Norwell is probably not the best use of their available cap dollars considering other positions need attention.  Josh Kline would be my choice as the #1 option for value & return on investment.  The second and third options could be Jack Mewhort and Justin Pugh.  The team should also strongly consider a contract extension for restricted free agent Greg Mancz, or at least tender Mancz with a 2nd Round Tender (~$2.9 million cap value).

 

Next up we will look at the safety free agent group to see who is available to shore up next to Andre Hal in the back field.

 

 

 

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