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Position Primer: Top OTs set to hit free agency

With the new league year just days away, we will be taking a look at several NFL experts' lists of the top 100 free agents, and their views on some of the top players at each position set to hit the open market.

Next up are the offensive tackles.

The Giants have several tackles on the roster as the franchise prepares for the 2020 season. Nate Solder will return for his third season with the team, while Eric Smith, who was claimed off waivers right before the start of the 2019 season, is also under contract. Versatile lineman Nick Gates, who started several games at tackle last season, is also set to return.

Mike Remmers, the team's starting right tackle last season, is set to become a free agent.

Jack Conklin

Gregg Rosenthal and Chris Wesseling, (FA No. 21) "It's no surprise that the season's most unstoppable ground attack ran behind Conklin, one of the league's most accomplished and physical body movers. Back to full health after battling knee injuries throughout 2018, Conklin paved the way for the NFL rushing champion Derrick Henry as well as Comeback Player of the Year Ryan Tannehill. The Titans have some excruciating decisions to make."

Sam Monson and Steve Palazzolo, Pro Football Focus- (FA No. 21) "Conklin is the best right tackle on the market, and he's coming off a regular season which he finished 12th overall among tackles in PFF grade (78.3) and fifth in run-blocking grade (81.0). Conklin has some issues in pass protection, as his pass-blocking grade ranks just 49th on true pass sets over the last two seasons, and he's on the higher end among offensive tackles receiving help (double teams, chip blocks, etc). Still, Conklin is a versatile run blocker who finished with the No. 6 grade on zone runs and the No. 14 mark on gap runs. He's been one of the better right tackles in the league since being drafted in the first round in 2016."

Kevin Seifert, ESPN- (FA No. 32) "Conklin returned from an injury-shortened 2018 season to start all 16 games this past season and is eligible for free agency because the Titans declined his 2020 fifth-year option. Even if he doesn't return to his All-Pro form of 2016, the value will be there. Starting right tackles don't often enter the market."

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports- (FA No. 23) "After a slow start to his 2019 season following an injury-marred 2018 season, he bounced back and played well down the stretch and in the playoffs. He's a good starting right tackle."

Anthony Castonzo

Gregg Rosenthal and Chris Wesseling, (FA No. 23) "After drawing Pro Bowl buzz throughout one of his better seasons, Castonzo made it clear he has no appetite for a change of scenery. The Colts have plenty of cap space to bring the veteran back for a 10th season, perhaps as a bodyguard for Rivers."

Sam Monson and Steve Palazzolo, Pro Football Focus- (FA No. 17) "One of the most underrated players in the league, Castonzo has been consistently good throughout his career, posting above-average grades between 76.9 and 83.4 in every season dating back to 2012. He's one of the best pass-protecting left tackles in the league — his 84.4 grade ranked eighth last year, and he had the fifth-highest grade in "true pass sets" (think pure dropback passing situations). Castonzo is less effective — but still solid — in the run game; he finished 16th among tackles with a 70.2 run-blocking grade last season while flashing his ability to play in any scheme. Heading into next season at 32 years old, Castonzo is one of the most valuable tackles in the league."

Kevin Seifert, ESPN- (FA No. 12) "Like many players who are older than 30, Castonzo considered retirement but ultimately decided he wanted to continue playing. He played well enough in 2019 to project him as a starter for several more years. And if he ever got on the open market, he would find plenty of suitors. Starting left tackles, young or old, are rarely available."

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports- (FA No. 30) "He is a good left tackle who will command a nice paycheck in this market. He's been consistently good the past few seasons. There is talk he might retire." ranks the top 101 players in the 2020 free agency cycle.

Bryan Bulaga

Gregg Rosenthal and Chris Wesseling, (FA No. 41) "The most consistent blocker on one of the best offensive lines of Aaron Rodgers' career, the oft-injured Bulaga played all 16 games for just the third time in nine years. He will be in demand even if he's a year-to-year proposition in his early-30s."

Kevin Seifert, ESPN- (FA No. 54) "A first-round pick in 2010, Bulaga struggled to stay on the field early in his career because of injuries. But he managed to start 30 of a possible 32 games over the past two seasons and figures to have several years left as a starting right tackle."

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports- (FA No. 28) "He is solid starting right tackle who just goes about doing his job. He has been a good pass blocker for most of his nine seasons with the Packers."

Andrew Whitworth

Gregg Rosenthal and Chris Wesseling, (FA No. 46) "The Rams are in desperate need of an heir apparent with their left tackle coming off ankle surgery, entering his age-38 season and finally showing signs of a long-awaited decline. By all indications, though, Whitworth is leaning toward returning for one more year as Jared Goff's blind-side guardian."

Sam Monson and Steve Palazzolo, Pro Football Focus- (FA No. 46) "With a position rank almost the same as his age, there's no doubt Andrew Whitworth has finally started to decline. But given that he was arguably the best left tackle in the game when he was at his best, he still has a lot to offer a team willing to take a short-term rental while they figure out their long-term future on the offensive line. Whitworth just posted his lowest overall PFF grade since the 2008 season (72.8) but still had a pass-blocking grade of 84.7 that was still good enough to rank seventh among tackles. He also was beaten for just one sack all season. Whitworth's All-Pro days may be long behind him, but there are many teams that could use him as a significant upgrade while they wait for a young player to develop."

Kevin Seifert, ESPN- (FA No. 65) "Despite his age, teams can project Whitworth as a reliable and still-effective left tackle for the short term. He has missed only three games in the past 11 seasons."

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports- (FA No. 44) "He's coming back for another season, which will almost certainly be with the Rams. He's not as good as he was a few years back, but he's still an above-average tackle."

Jason Peters

Gregg Rosenthal and Chris Wesseling, (FA No. 55) "Now 38 years old, Peters' health is a concern. He was still an asset when he played last year and has ultimately gutted out more than 900 snaps in each of the last two seasons."

Sam Monson and Steve Palazzolo, Pro Football Focus- (FA No. 48) "Somehow Jason Peters is still plying his trade at an extremely high level despite approaching 38 years of age. That age obviously makes Peters a short-term option for prospective teams, and Peters also comes with a significant injury history and the prospect that he might not last 16 games in any given season. But he is still an impressive figure when he is on the field, and he ended the 2019 season with an overall PFF grade of 82.8 after allowing 25 total pressures on the season. Peters won't be receiving many multi-year offers, but he could provide a very useful short-term fix for a team struggling to find answers on the offensive line."

Kevin Seifert, ESPN- (FA No. 58) "At his age, Peters is a year-to-year proposition. But after he played in 29 of a possible 32 games over the past two seasons, there is a reason to think he could squeeze out at least one more quality season. Even if his best years are long behind him, starting left tackles of any quality generate intense interest."

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports- (FA No. 46) "How much does he have left? He is 39 and injuries have started to take a toll on his body. He isn't the same player he was a few years ago."

Demar Dotson

Gregg Rosenthal and Chris Wesseling, (FA No. 82) "Dotson's pass protection has started to slip as he enters his mid-30s, but he's still sound enough to stand sentry for the league leader in passing yards -- and interceptions."

Halapoulivaati Vaitai

Gregg Rosenthal and Chris Wesseling, (FA No. 86) "Plying his trade in the era of the NFL's great offensive line drought, Vaitai may just land a handsome monetary reward for his yeoman's work as a versatile swing tackle capable of keeping an offense afloat in Philadelphia."

Kevin Seifert, ESPN- (FA No. 51) "Big V, as he is known in Philadelphia, has spent most of the past four seasons as a swing backup and spot starter. He can play both guard and tackle, and was good enough as a replacement left tackle in 2017 to help the Eagles win Super Bowl LII. A player of his size and relatively youthful age is sure to generate interest."

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports- (FA No. 78) "At 27, he's started at both left and right tackle for the Eagles, which will help his market. He is big-bodied player who might just be better served on the right side. Expect a good market for him."


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