The Chicago Bears have one of the best offensive guards in the NFL in Matt Slauson. While Kyle Long is a very good offensive lineman, he's been outplayed in two of the past three seasons by Slauson, who is by far the most consistent blocker on the team.
Slauson is an above average run blocker and an absolute wall in pass protection. In 779 pass-block snaps last year at left guard, he gave up just 1 sack, 0 QB hits and 7 QB hurries. That is ridiculously good.
The fact Slauson continues to get passed over for the Pro Bowl, while Long benefits greatly from being Howie Long's kid, is truly a shame.
While Slauson is rock solid at left guard, the Bears have issues at right guard. Vlad Ducasse and Patrick Omameh split time at the position last year, with mediocre results. Both were decent run blockers but their protection issues hurt the team's passing attack.
As such, expect the team to upgrade the guard position this upcoming off-season. With that in mind, here are the top veterans guards who will soon hit the open market.
Kelechi Osemele, Baltimore (6-5, 330) Age: 27
I highlighted Osemele in yesterday's offensive tackle free agent break down, yet Osemele has spent much of his four-year career playing guard. He's a big mauler with strength for days but he's also very agile as a pass blocker. In 701 pass-protection snaps last season, Osemele gave up just 1 sack, 2 QB hits and 10 QB hurries. Imagine having him and Slauson stonewalling the front of the pocket for Jay Cutler.
Richie Incognito, Buffalo (6-3, 319) Age: 33
Yes he's a racist and a bully, but Incognito is still one of the best guards in the NFL. He was a beast as a run blocker for the Bills, while allowing just 2 sacks, 5 QB hits and 10 QB hurries. He's reportedly on the verge of re-signing in Buffalo but if he hits the open market, he's worth pursuing.
Evan Mathis, Denver (6-5, 301) Age: 34
Mathis, like so many of his elite former Eagles teammates, was cast aside by Chip Kelly last year and signed with the Broncos shortly before the start of the season. He struggled early in the campaign but quickly found his groove. Mathis is widely considered the best run-blocking guard in the NFL and is skilled in pass protection as well. Age is a concern but as a short-term option, the Bears could do much worse.
Jeff Allen, Kansas City (6-4, 306) Age: 26
Allen tore his bicep in the 2014 season opener and lost his starting gig heading into the 2015 campaign. After the Chiefs started 1-5, Andy Reid eventually plugged his best blocker in the starting lineup for the final eight games. Not surprisingly, the offense took a big step forward with Allen at left guard. He's a very good run blocker and, in 379 snaps last year, he didn't allow a single sack or QB hit.
Alex Boone, San Francisco (6-8, 300) Age: 29
Boone held out last off-season and missed all of training camp, which resulted in a relatively down season for the two-time Pro Bowl alternate. He struggled as a run blocker but was solid in pass protection. He was placed on IR before the season finale after suffering a slight tear to his MCL. Boone is a talented blocker who got caught up in the train wreck that was the 49ers' 2015 season. He's still a very good guard and should come at a discounted rate.
Ramon Foster, Pittsburgh (6-5, 328) Age: 30
Foster has been a full-time starter for the Steelers the past five seasons and has developed into one of the better run-blocking guards in the league. He's inconsistent as a pass blocker - he gave up 6 sacks last year - but he's serviceable in pass protection.
Michael Harris, Minnesota (6-5, 338) Age: 27
Harris has a mauler's body and temperment. At 27-years-old, he has plenty of good years ahead of him. He's not elite in any area of his game but he's a very solid NFL guard. He fell out of favor after two years in San Diego but he's been a stalwart front-line blocker for the Vikings the past two seasons. Harris could be a free-agent steal.
Brandon Brooks, Houston (6-5, 335) Age: 27
A three-year starter for the Texans, Brooks is one of the better pass-blocking guards in the league. Yet he's one-dimensional, as he struggles to move the pile in the run game. If the Bears truly want to shore up their interior pass protection at a discounted rate, Brooks is worth pursuing.
Chris Chester, Atlanta (6-3, 303) Age: 33
Chester has been a full-time starter in the NFL since 2008. His experience would have value in Chicago, as would his top-tier run blocking - he was a huge reason for Devonta Freeman's breakout season in 2015. Yet Chester is very inconsistent in pass protection and turned 33 last month. He's a decent short-term option but he's not going to help much in the passing game.
Manuel Ramirez, Detroit (6-3, 325) Age: 33
Amini Silatolu, Carolina (6-4, 320) Age: 27
J.R. Sweezy, Seattle (6-5, 298) Age: 27
Tony Bergstrom, Oakland (6-5, 315) Age: 30
Chris Scott, Carolina (6-4, 340) Age: 29
Jeff Allen: Allen has publicly expressed his displeasure with being benched during the first half of last season, so it's highly doubtful he'll re-sign with the Chiefs. That could be good news for the Bears, who could use his solid all-around presence along the front five. He's a productive run blocker but his value in pass protection is off the charts. In addition, the former second-round pick won't cost an arm and a leg. Allen would be an outstanding free-agent value, one who would provide an immediate boost to Chicago's offensive line.
Alex Boone is also a solid long-term option. He's only 29 and coming off a down year, so he won't command a large contract. His prowess as a pass blocker would immediately impact Jay Cutler and the Bears' aerial attack.