Free-agent preview: Centers

The center crop got a lot better with the addition of Alex Mack, who opted out of his contract in Cleveland.

As good as the pending free-agent guard prospects are, the centers even it out a bit. But for any team looking for a quality one, having one of the best opt out of his contract certainly helps the quality of the group.

ALEX MACK, CLEVELAND

Alex Mack has long been one of the best centers in the NFL, and our updated free-agent rankings will reflect that after he opted out of the final three years of his contract on Wednesday, putting him on the free agent market. Mack has started every game in six of his seven seasons with the Cleveland Browns, and a return to Cleveland is still possible for the three-time Pro Bowler if he gets an updated/upgraded contract.

BEN JONES, HOUSTON

Ben Jones is still young (only 26) and has been a full-time starter for two years with the Houston Texans. While Jones was originally the highest rated center in free agency, there just weren’t a lot of good ones available, either. Mack has to take over the top spot at center for any updated rankings, but Jones is still a worthy starter for a team in need.

STEFEN WISNIESKI, JACKSONVILLE

After four years in Oakland, Stefen Wisniewski discovered new life with the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he found his stride again and set himself up nicely for a solid free-agent contract. He might not be a mauling run blocker, but he is a solid pass protector and at 26 years old has plenty of good years ahead of him. In five seasons of starting he has missed only three games.

PATRICK LEWIS, SEATTLE

While he is still relatively unproven, the insertion of Patrick Lewis at center during the middle of the 2015 season seemed to help the Seattle Seahawks offensive line find itself after Seattle traded away Max Unger in the offseason. Lewis is a restricted free agent and the Seahawks tendered him a $1.67 million contract. Another team could fashion a better long-term contract, but in most cases restricted free agents who are tendered stick with their original team.

MANNY RAMIREZ, DETROIT

After being a full-time starter for Denver for three seasons, Manuel Ramirez went to the Detroit Lions, where he started only seven games. He still ended up as a top-five rated center by Pro Football Focus, but the Lions reportedly aren’t likely to keep him. He’s 33 years old and therefore won’t be a high priority in free agency, but he’s a potential starter for a team in need.

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