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2021 NFL free agency: Trent Williams leads the top 10 available offensive linemen

Frank Schwab
·4 min read
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When Trent Williams reworked his contract with the San Francisco 49ers last offseason after a trade from the Washington Football Team, he had the 49ers include a clause that he couldn't be given the franchise tag.

Smart.

Instead of the one-year tag, which the 49ers presumably would have given Williams, the eight-time Pro Bowler will be a free agent. Given how few quality offensive linemen are usually available in free agency and how many teams need to add O-line depth, Williams' agent is about to get a lot of calls.

San Francisco 49ers offensive tackle Trent Williams blocks Washington end Chase Young in a game last season. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
San Francisco 49ers offensive tackle Trent Williams blocks Washington end Chase Young in a game last season. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

There are more viable options in free agency along the offensive line than there was a year ago. It's still not an exceptionally deep group, and these top 10 available linemen will get plenty of attention:

10. T Eric Fisher

Fisher tore his Achilles in the playoffs, and that was a reason the Kansas City Chiefs cut the former No. 1 overall pick. It's a big stretch to think Fisher will be ready for the start of the season, and he might not play at all in 2021. Any team signing him would be looking for a long-term deal so they can get some good years out of Fisher once he's healthy.

9. T Mitchell Schwartz

Schwartz had back surgery in February after an injury ended his season with the Chiefs. He's 31 and a bigger risk now, assuming he wants to keep playing. If Schwartz is healthy he can be a quality right tackle for a few more years.

8. C Austin Reiter

The Chiefs have a big challenge in reshaping their offensive line. Reiter has been a solid starting center for them and he'll get some interest on the open market.

7. T Alejandro Villanueva

The longtime Pittsburgh Steelers tackle, who served as a captain in the U.S. Army before establishing an NFL career, hasn't missed a game since making his NFL debut in 2015. The two-time Pro Bowler will turn 33 years old during the season, but can still have some value on a short-term deal.

6. C David Andrews

Andrews was a great story with the New England Patriots, an undrafted player in 2015 who became their starting center as a rookie and held the job ever since. If the Patriots don't want to pay him, Andrews won't have trouble finding a new team.

5. G Kevin Zeitler

Zeitler was once thought of as one of the best guards in the NFL. He signed a five-year, $60 million deal in 2017. The New York Giants cut him in a salary-cap move, and he might never be elite again having turned 31 years old, but he can be a productive starter for a team that needs help.

4. T Daryl Williams

Williams was establishing himself as a top NFL offensive tackle when he suffered a season-ending injury in the first game of the 2018 season. He joined the Buffalo Bills last season and had a good season at tackle, and should get a nice deal in free agency.

3. C Corey Linsley

Linsley is coming off an All-Pro season for the Green Bay Packers. Linsley has been the Packers' starting center since his rookie season of 2014 and has been a reliable performer. He'll turn 30 before next season, and he'll get a nice deal with the Packers or elsewhere.

2. G Joe Thuney

The New England Patriots passed on giving Thuney the franchise tag for a second straight season. Thuney is a good player but what boosts his value is versatility. Thuney is able to play any spot along the line, which is a nice plus even though any team will be signing him to play guard.

1. T Trent Williams

Williams has a chance to make the Hall of Fame, and he still has plenty left in the tank. In each of the last eight seasons Williams has played a game, he has made the Pro Bowl. That includes last season with the 49ers at age 32. The length of a deal could be a stumbling block, but many teams will line up to pay Williams a lot of money.

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