Free Agent Preview: Center

While the Bears have one of the best centers in the game, one of Olin Kreutz's equals will hit the open market in two weeks. Find out what beat writers around the league think about the handful of centers they cover that are scheduled for free agency in March.

The Bears are unlikely to address center in free agency. Olin Kreutz is under contract through 2007 and has been elected to five straight Pro Bowls. The team also has Roberto Garza and Lennie Friedman as options if Kreutz were to go down.

  • New Orleans Saints C LeCharles Bentley, who is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent, is a solid player and was selected to the NFC Pro Bowl squad. He's the No. 1 rated free agent at the position and fourth overall on the market.

  • Carolina Panthers C Jeff Mitchell and RG Tutan Reyes are both unrestricted free agents. Don't expect the team to go out of its way to sign either. They have Evan Mathis, a third-round pick in 2005, and Geoff Hangartner, a fifth-round selection waiting in the wings to replace those guys. That may or may not happen this year, but it's hard to imagine Carolina spending much money to keep either Mitchell or Reyes.

  • Devnver Broncos C Tom Nalen is expected to void his contract and become a free agent this off-season. He wants to come back to Denver but it doesn't look like that will happen. Nalen is 34 years old and the Broncos already have his successor at center. He could end up in another uniform next season. He is a five-time Pro Bowler but he didn't know what to expect on the open market. Retirement isn't at option at this point.

  • Green Bay Packers C Mike Flanagan played in pain the last 10 games after rushing back from surgery for a sports hernia in early October. Flanagan, 32, will be an unrestricted free agent whose time might be up in Green Bay after a remarkable 10-year run.

  • Minnesota Vikings C Melvin Fowler replaced injured starter Matt Birk, but Birk is expected to return in 2006, meaning Fowler's days in Minnesota are most likely finished. He will be a free agent and is expected to look for a starting job.

  • Buffalo Bills C Trey Teague, an eight-year veteran and unrestricted free agent, has been a steady if not spectacular performer for five seasons in Buffalo but he's likely to be replaced by rookie Duke Preston, who played in all 16 games.

  • Miami Dolphins C Seth McKinney will likely be allowed to leave via free agency.

  • Tennessee Titans C Justin Hartwig is a notch better than solid. But the center is heading for free agency and is represented by Drew Rosenhaus.

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