Free Agent Preview – Offensive Tackles

With Super Bowl 52 completed and the NFL waiver system opening on Monday, this marks the official start of the offseason.  Across the league we will see a number of players released from their contracts between now and March 14th when the new league year starts.  This will be part 3 of our free agent preview; and this part will take a look at the available offensive tackle free agent market.  This is probably the weakest free group among the 4 positions examined for the Houston Texans.  Both the left and right side of the offensive line could have new players starting on week 1 versus what we watched in 2017.  2017 4th round draft pick Julien’ Davenport should be inline to start at one of the tackle positions for 2018.

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 %
Derek Newton $3,500,000 N/A 0%
Kendall Lamm $705,000 53.6 14.52%
Julien Davenport $701,605 47.6 21.87%
Jake Rodgers $480,000 N/A 0%

Pending Free Agents:  Chris Clark (UFA), Breno Giacomini (UFA)

 

Free Agent Market

Player Name Age FA Status 2017 PFF Grade 2017 Snap %
Chris Hubbard 26 Unrestricted 70.5 70.5%
Nate Solder 29 Unrestricted 69.0 97.7%
Cameron Fleming 25 Unrestricted 66.6 32.3%
Andre Smith 30 Unrestricted 50.0 55.9%
LaDrian Waddle 26 Unrestricted 47.1 29.4%
Greg Robinson 25 Unrestricted 36.6 37.7%
Austin Pasztor 27 Unrestricted 0.0 0.0%

Comments:

Chris Hubbard was an undrafted rookie for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2013, but 2017 was a big year for Hubbard.  Pittsburgh starting right tackle, Marcus Gilbert, was injured and suspended thrusting Hubbard into the starting lineup at right tackle.  Hubbard only allowed 3 sacks and 5 quarterback hits in 432 pass blocking snaps for 2017.  Hubbard being an undrafted player with only one solid season of evaluation will be difficult to estimate the size of a new contract.  Hubbard could be looking at a contract worth $5-$7 million per year with $7-$8 million in guaranteed money; total contract value of 4 years $25 million.  Hubbard would be a solid upgrade at the right tackle position.

Nate Solder is the solid veteran of the free agent class.  Solder has spent his entire career in New England after being their 1st round draft choice in 2011.  Solder has been extremely durable with snaps played percentage of 90% or more from 2012 through 2017, with the exception of 2015 when he was lost to injury.  Solder would be able to step right into the left tackle position in Houston with familiarity of the offensive scheme employed by Bill O’Brien.  Due to a weak tackle market the Texans would likely have to overpay for Nate Solder with a contract offering $11-$13 million per year average.  Solder could bring in a 4 year contract worth $50+ million and $25+ million in guarantees.

Austin Pasztor would be one year stop gap solution at the right tackle position.  Pasztor was graded out with a 78.9 PFF grade in 2016 while playing 99% of the offensive snaps in Cleveland.  Atlanta signed Pasztor in 2017 at a minimum level contract to be their starting right tackle but never saw the field as he was continually inactive while recovering from a pectoral injury.

Final Comments:

Yep…that’s it…slim pickings.  Absent another veteran tackle released by their team in the coming weeks the offensive tackle market is slim pickings.  The direction that the Houston Texans take will largely depend on the health of Derek Newton as well.  If healthy Newton could play right tackle with the team signing a veteran swing tackle to play behind Davenport & Newton.  If the team does not land Hubbard or Solder then the team will likely have to swing for the fences by trading up in the draft; or go with another one year stop gap solution at the tackle spot.  The tackle position is likely the most interesting position to monitor with the Houston Texans in the coming months.

Check back soon as we will cover the last of the 4 position groups for free agency, next being the Cornerback group.

-Troy

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