2008 Free Agency Preview: Guards/Centers

Who are the top free agent guards? Are there some sleepers at the position? How about at center? Details inside....

Guards/Centers Who Should Compete for a Starting Role

Alan Faneca/Pittsburgh Steelers (UFA) - Faneca is one of the best left guards in the league and has great feet for a player of his size. He's also known for being one of the most technically sound players at his position.

This position went from one of passing importance to a highly paid position over the last few years. One needs to start with the seven-year, $49 million deal former Seattle G Steve Hutchinson signed after the 2005 season. That set off a series of big money deals the following season (see Leonard Davis and Derrick Dockery for example) at the position. So Faneca, while he turned 31 late last year, could still yield a big money deal from another team. And it's almost certain that Faneca has played his last down for the Steelers since both sides haven't had contract discussions in several months, Scout.com has confirmed.

Justin Smiley/San Francisco (UFA) - Smiley was highly touted coming out of the collegiate ranks but may not have been consistent enough to warrant a big free agent deal. On occasion, Smiley will lose battles against stronger interior defensive lineman. Still, he's certainly above average as a run and pass blocker and he moves well for a player of his size.

Jake Scott/Indianapolis Colts (UFA) - Has started 56 straight straight games since his rookie season and has shown improvement as a run and pass blocker each season. He's more of a positional than power blocker.

Jacob Bell/Tennessee Titans (UFA) - Bell has played some tackle in his four years of play but he's played his best when inside at guard. Bell moves well and has good feet and scouts rate him as above average as a run and pass blocker.

Jason Brown/Baltimore Ravens (RFA) - He's capable of playing guard or center although Brown is slated to play guard for Baltimore. Brown is known as a power blocker who fits well in Baltimore's power based rushing scheme.

(Center) Casey Wiegmann/Kansas City Chiefs (UFA) - He turns 35 in July so his best days may be in back of him. Scouts call him an athletic but undersized center which is why sources say he doesn't fit Kansas City's power scheme well. That explains why sources told Scout.com that the team hasn't shown any interest in re-signing him. Still, Wiegmann could find work with a team that features more of a passing or finesse offense.

Other Guards/Centers Who Could Receive Interest in a Backup Role

Ryan Lilja/Indianapolis Colts (UFA) - While being a bit undersized, Lilja has proven that he's more than a finesse blocker. But he's been in and out of the starting lineup in his four years of play.

Seth McKinney/Cleveland Browns (UFA) - McKinney can play guard or center but he's had his share of injuries and he's probably looking at being a backup at this point of his career.

Floyd Womack/Seattle Seahawks (UFA) - The  oft-injured lineman has upside but teams will be concerned with his injury history. He can play most positions on the offensive line which is why teams will find his versatility intriguing.

(Center) Jeremy Newberry/Oakland Raiders (UFA) - He missed 37 games during the 2004-2006 seasons due mostly to knee problems. Newberry, who turns 32 soon, was able to beat out C Jake Grove for the starting job with Oakland last season and he started 14 games. Scouts love his tough, physical play and when healthy, he's a pretty solid player.

Elton Brown/Arizona Cardinals (RFA) - He had to play guard and tackle last season due to injury and opened some eyes around the league with his improved play. He's still seen as a backup.

Tyson Clabo/Atlanta Falcons (UFA) - Because of injuries on the Atlanta offensive line this past season, Clabo was moved from guard to right tackle and played fairly well. Still, he's looked upon as a backup lineman.

Fred Weary/Houston Texans (UFA) - He's one of the few original Houston Texans still on their roster. Weary started 43 games in six seasons and is a solid backup or can start if needed.

Jason Whittle/Buffalo Bills (UFA) - Can play guard or center and is one of the most versatile backups in the league.

Chris Liwienski/Miami Dolphins (UFA) - Veteran interior lineman who can play either guard spot.

Ruben Brown/Chicago Bears (UFA) - The 13-year veteran isn't the player he once was and although he turned 36 recently, he could still probably play another season for a team that is looking for a veteran presence at the position.

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