While this free agent group of guards isn't very deep this year, there are about five to six who should get starter consideration.
With the signing of right tackle Marc Colombo in December plus with RG Leonard Davis, C Andre Gurode, LG Kyle Kosier, LT Flozell Adams all back, the Cowboys have a solid core of starters on the offensive line.
In addition, Dallas has Pat McQuistan, Doug Free, Montrae Holland and Corey Procter as backups.
Still, there is work to be done.
Davis and Gurode played well enough to earn return trips to the Pro Bowl. Colombo was solid, earning a four-year contract extension. Adams, however, took a step backwards in 2008 -- after he was given a lucrative contract extension in the offseason. Adams' play was affected by the absence of Kosier, who missed the majority of the season with a foot fracture.
Holland and Proctor filled in at guard, but the drop-off in play and impact on line continuity and chemistry was stark.
With all of that in mind, here's a look at the top guards available entering the start of free agency on Feb. 27:
Guards Who Should Get Starter Consideration
Jahri Evans/New Orleans Saints/RFA - He's one of the most talented, young interior lineman in the league. Look for the Saints to use a first-round tender on this restricted free agent.
Mike Goff/San Diego Chargers/UFA - The veteran interior lineman may have seen his better days, but he'll still likely get consideration to start somewhere.
Cooper Carlisle/Oakland Raiders/UFA - He's capable of playing right tackle, center, or either guard spot. Carlisle has 69 starts in his 9 seasons of play and his versatility could help him yield a starting job.
Pete Kendall/Washington Redskins/UFA - The 13-year pro has 188 starts under his belt. While he may not have many years left, he still should be able to find a starting job.
Stephen Peterman/Detroit Lions/UFA - The former third-round pick of the Dallas Cowboys suffered through a series of injuries in his five seasons of play, but he's a solid run blocker who could start for several more years.
Chris Kemoeatu/Pittsburgh Steelers/UFA - The Steelers were hoping he'd make everyone forget about Alan Faneca, but it didn't happen. However, he's still only 26 and is still capable of competing for a starting job next season.
Others Who Could Find Interest For Backup Purposes
Adrian Jones/Kansas City/UFA - Has 26 starts in his five seasons as a pro, but is seen as a valuable backup at guard.
Floyd Womack/Seattle Seahawks/UFA - Oft-injured, but talented lineman who can play guard or right tackle.
Kynan Forney/San Diego Chargers/UFA - Solid backup lineman who has 89 starts in his eight-year career. Forney is still capable of competing for a starting job in the right situtation.
Ray Willis/Seattle Seahawks/UFA - The former fourth-round pick is capable of playing right tackle or guard.
Ross Hochstein/New England Patriots/UFA - Has played just about every position for the Patriots and is one of the better backup linemen in the league.
Elton Brown/Arizona Cardinals/UFA - He's capable of playing right tackle or guard.
Jason Whittle/Buffalo Bills/UFA - The versatile backup lineman is capable of playing either guard spot or center.
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