2005 Free Agent Guards and Centers

Marco Rivera (62) blocks Seattle's Rocky Bernard

The Seahawks are doing more signing than shopping, and two of their own are on the list of free agent guards and centers. In conjunction with Scout.com, Seahawks.NET's Doug Farrar takes an in-depth look at the men in the middle who may be shopping for new homes in new cities.

2005 Free-Agent Guards/Centers
A listing of the offensive guards and centers scheduled for NFL free agency in 2005. UFA=Unrestricted Free Agent; RFA=Restricted Free Agent; ERFA=Exclusive Rights Free Agent. For definitions of free-agent terms, click here. The "Best of the Bunch" is sorted by rankings from Scout.com's Lane Adkins. The "Rest of the Bunch" is sorted by free-agent type, then by most recent team. Comments provided for unrestricted free agents.
BEST OF THE BUNCH
Player Free-Agent Type 2004 Team
Marco Rivera UFA Packers
Comment: Once of the better guards in the NFL over the last half-decade, Rivera will be playing in his third straight Pro Bowl to close out the 2004 season. Rivera has said that he wants to retire as a Packer, and the team would be wise to re-sign one of the better straight-ahead guards in the league. There may be questions about his age (33) and some recent injuries, but Rivera will most likely get some serious offers from teams looking to upgrade their lines. If Brett Favre plays one more year, Rivera will be Lambeau Leaping a while longer.
Jermane Mayberry UFA Eagles
Comment: Philly's first-round draft pick in 1996, Mayberry was a late bloomer as he moved from left guard to right tackle to right guard. His first Pro Bowl berth after the 2002 season seemed to auger well for a bright future, but he was sideswiped by a series of nagging injuries in 2003 and this season. Still, any team looking for quality veteran presence at the guard position would do well to take a look.
Rick DeMulling UFA Colts
Comment: Moving between guard and center (filling in at the latter position for the injured Jeff Saturday down the stretch) in 2004, DeMulling shows versatility and athletic ability. His stock likely rose as a part of the line that helped Peyton Manning put together a historic season. At 6-foot-4 and 304 pounds, he's more a pass blocker than a run specialist, but that's enough to make him worth a look. A four-year veteran, DeMulling still has room to grow.
Cosey Coleman UFA Buccaneers
Comment: Coleman is a big (6-4, 322) guard with big potential. What Tampa Bay has is a big salary cap problem, and nobody really knows where the hammer will fall. Wherever Coleman goes (or if he stays), he'll be a promising player -he's already a beast when it comes to run-blocking. Coleman can beat people with sheer strength, which serves him well in that aspect. Where he still needs development is in the passing game, and pulling and trapping - technique issues that can be corrected over time. "Upside" is an overused word, but Coleman's got a LOT of it.
Rich Braham UFA Bengals
Comment: A 34-year old center/guard, Braham has been the leader of the Bengals' line. He received a $250,000 signing bonus to sign a one-year contract worth $1.2 million last March, and Bengals coach Marvin Lewis has said that he wants Braham back on the team. Braham suffered a broken fibula in Week 14, but the team believes in him and thinks that the line is better with him. Preliminary talks now should lead to a new contract for the veteran.
Justin Hartwig RFA Titans
Joe Andruzzi UFA Patriots
Comment: As with many Patriots, Andruzzi gets it done with a lunch-pail work ethic and severe determination more than great natural ability. A street free-agent signing in 2000, what he does might not be pretty (he's more a classic mauler), but his style is very effective. In the three seasons he started all 16 games (2001, 2003, 2004) New England won the Super Bowl each time. Andruzzi would get look-sees from many teams were he on the open market for any length of time, but it's difficult to imagine him leaving a team he helps personify.
Bennie Anderson UFA Ravens
Comment: A good mid-level guard, Anderson provides depth and value at the position. What makes him so attractive is his ungodly size (he's 6-5, 345) and his ability to just blow defenders up. Where the weight hurts him is in his ability to do anything very athletic, such as pulling, changing direction and playing in space. Take Anderson down about 10 pounds, and the four-year veteran could hit the elite level. The Ravens may take another shot based on Anderson's size and ability to push defenders into taking longer paths to the quarterback.
David Dixon UFA Vikings
Comment: His experience (11 years) says he is getting a little long in the tooth, but his performance last year might have been the best of his career. The right guard appears willing to take a contract in line with his NFL value, so chances are he will re-sign with the Vikings, where his roots are now planted, most likely in a backup role.
Ben Hamilton UFA Broncos
Comment: At 6-foot-4 and only 283 pounds, you wouldn't expect Ben Hamilton to be a great run-blocking guard...and you would be incorrect. The four-year veteran out of Minnesota comes off the snap from a low plane and hangs on to blocks better than most. He's got a mean streak (most likely developed from three years under the tutelage of former O-Line guru Alex Gibbs), plays far beyond what you'd expect from his size and relative lack of athleticism, and will almost certainly be a Bronco for years to come. Mike Shanahan doesn't want to let any of that Gibbs magic out the door...
Casey Wiegmann UFA Chiefs
Comment: The Chiefs' center is a key cog in a line that has been highly rated for a very long time. Wiegmann is the very definition of an underrated, savvy veteran. He uses great technique more than size (6-2, 285), and he's more than a speedbump in the middle. He has the ability to block forward to the second wave, and handles space very well. Equally adept at run and pass blocking, Wiegmann is a necessary part of the Chiefs' future - they've got too much work to do on their defense to worry about replacing quality offensive linemen like him.
Dominic Raiola UFA Lions
Comment: Raiola is a four-year center with a lot of potential, but he still struggles with inconsistency. He's an extremely physical run-blocker who can also long snap (that alone would keep him in the league, if nothing else) with a nasty streak. The primary issue that needs work is Raiola's susceptibility to huge guards lining up straight on him, as well as getting push in short-yardage situations. He did show improvement toward the end of the 2004 season, but the Lions will probably want to re-up Raiola as they look to improve an inconsistent offensive line. However, a draft "Plan B" for several line positions is also a possibility.
Keydrick Vincent UFA Steelers
Comment: Still learning the finer points of the guard position after his first four years in the league, Vincent brings a massive, 6-5, 325-pound frame and a lot of potential to the Steelers' lineup. What he needs to work on are the finer points - sustaining blocks over time, the nuances of pass protection and contending with explosive defenders. Vincent will probably not be doing any of these things in Pittsburgh, however. Former starter Kendall Simmons, who missed all of 2004 with a knee injury, will return to the starting job in 2005. Vincent will be given a starter's chance elsewhere.
Robbie Tobeck UFA Seahawks
Comment: "The Hobbit" is listed at 6-4, but that's a bit generous. Tobeck may be a couple inches shorter than that, but he's got 300 pounds of mass, 11 years of experience, and a devastatingly quick wit that has made him a favorite of teammates and coaches alike. He's not as quick as he used to be off the line and he can get pushed back on occasion, but Tobeck anchors one of the NFL's better lines with a sharp mind (he's great with line calls) and the right-place/right-time combination that time and experience bring. The Seahawks are very thin at center, so Seahawk fans will be enjoying Tobeck's quality play and hilarious one-liners for a while longer.
Brandon Moore ERFA Jets
Tutan Reyes RFA Panthers
Cameron Spikes UFA Cardinals
Comment: Spikes has been walking the line between starter and reserve in Dennis Green's offense. A six-year veteran out of Texas A & M, the 6-4, 313-pound guard has suffered in some corners from the worst rep possible for an offensive lineman - that he gets pushed back and overwhelmed too often. The truth is that Spikes would be an excellent reserve, but he was forced into starting in a depleted line. Green benched Spikes in favor of Jeremy Bridges for part of the year, and he has said that he doesn't intend to rotate linemen in future. Spikes could excel as a versatile reserve - someone should take a shot on him. Probably won't be Arizona again.
Ron Stone UFA Raiders
Comment: Stone was placed on IR on December 27 with a knee injury, which capped off a very disappointing season. Stone hurt the knee in training camp and only played in five games. The 12-year veteran guard faces an uncertain future, and it's not really clear whether the Raiders wish to try him again.
Stephen Neal RFA Patriots
Roberto Garza UFA Falcons
Comment: Garza played in rotation with the Falcons in 2004. He's got the talent to start, but he's still putting it together. He has good drive-blocking skills, but Atlanta O-Line coach Alex Gibbs is known as a relentless taskmaster who will accept nothing but the best. Gibbs wants versatile, brilliant players with nasty streaks who can fit easily into his advanced (and amazingly effective) system. If retained by the Falcons (and further coached by Gibbs), Garza could develop into a Pro Bowl pass-blocker.
Ray Brown UFA Redskins
Comment: One of the more amazing stories this side of Bruce Matthews, Brown is notable at this point in his career for surviving 19 years primarily at guard - a position in which violence is paramount. He's a backup at this point, but the Redskins are already talking to him about signing on the line for the big "two-oh." Joe Gibbs loves Brown's veteran leadership, and the Redskins will most likely benefit from it once again. Well done, sir!
Rich Tylski UFA Panthers
Comment: Tylski is the very living definition of the offensive guard as unsung tough guy. He can play all across the line, filling in at center for Jeff Mitchell toward the end of the 2004 season. Tylski is a seven-year veteran, extremely fundamentally sound, and he'll probably be back with the Panthers in 2005 - Carolina coach John Fox loves his versatility and recognizes the value of a fine reserve.
REST OF THE BUNCH
Player Free-Agent Type 2004 Team
Brock Guttierez UFA 49ers
Comment: Gutierrez, a former Bengal center, could be a quality reserve for many teams. San Francisco may want him as a point of stability in a team that will be seeing big roster changes soon.
Rob Murphy UFA 49ers
Comment: Murphy, a four-year center, has seen his share of cuts and waivers. With San Francisco undergoing a big rebuilding process, it's unclear whether he's going to be jettisoned again.
Jerry Fontenot UFA Bengals
Comment: Fontenot has enjoyed a 16-year career in which he's been highly regarded. He still can start from time to time, but Marvin Lewis has expressed some concern regarding his ability to pick up new schemes. What he can do for some team is provide veteran savvy and quality game-calling at the line.
Carlisle Cooper UFA Broncos
Comment: Cooper is a good reserve who can play guard and tackle. He was elevated to a starting role late in the 2004 season, replacing Dan Neil, and he could start if the Broncos re-sign him.
Paul Zukauskas UFA Browns
Comment: Zukauskas had issues with a sprained knee in 2004, losing his starting LG spot to Enoch DeMar. What new coach Romeo Crennel will do with a guard who struggled through the season is unclear, but Zukauskas will have to be completely healthy to have a shot in the new regime.
Bob Hallen UFA Chargers
Comment: Hallen spent his second tour of duty in San Diego in 2004, re-signing with the team in October after San Diego released Jason Ball. Could be a veteran starter/backup for San Diego again next year.
Tupe Peko UFA Colts
Comment: Peko is an extremely versatile backup who impressed Indy's coaches by playing all over the line and doing well everywhere. He suffered a high ankle sprain in 2004, which caused him to miss some time, but the Colts will protect Peyton at all costs - and Peko won't cost that much.
Matt Lehr UFA Cowboys
Comment: Lehr's a tandem guy - he can play in a rotation, and do so with professionalism. Whether Lehr will be a casualty of what will likely be a big Parcells rebuild is a question, but Lehr can be of value to the right team as a solid reserve.
Steve Herndon UFA Falcons
Comment: Herndon's not tremendously durable, but he's a blue-collar reserve. Good pickup for a team in need of a short-yardage guy.
Mike Compton UFA Jaguars
Comment: A 12-year veteran, Compton is a very smart player - but he might find himself out of some depth charts. He'd a great fundamentalist who would be an asset to a young team.
Tyrone Hopson UFA Lions
Comment: Hopson showed some drive towards the end of the season - possibly enough to receive an offer to continue with the Lions as a reserve.
Brad Bedell UFA Packers
Comment: Bedell played several snaps as the second tight end in December against the Lions, impressing line coach Larry Beightol. If your position coach likes your versatility, expect some phone calls from the front office.
Bill Ferrario UFA Panthers
Comment: Run-blocking specialist with limited athleticism but great ability to push people around. Good for a run-oriented team, which the Panthers are.
Chris Dishman UFA Rams
Comment: Dishman suffered a torn MCL and a knee injury in 2004 - he's got talent, but durability became a major concern in his eighth season. The Rams may give the former Cardinal another shot...if he doesn't consider retirement again, as he did after the 2003 season when he didn't get a nibble in free agency.
Darnell Alford UFA Rams
Comment: The Rams signed Alford from the Chiefs' practice squad when they were fishing for line depth, but Alford did little, winding up on the inactive list. Questionable as to what he'll do next.
Tom Nutten UFA Rams
Comment: Brought out of retirement by the Rams in August, Nutten battled numerous injuries throughout the season and made allusions to the fact that his body may have been trying to tell him something. Whether he was talking out of frustration is something that the Rams will wait to know.
Casey Rabach UFA Ravens
Comment: Rabach, the Ravens' starting center in 2004, has the interest of the team when it comes to a long-term contract. However, Baltimore is concerned that other teams may price them out of the market.
Chris Gray UFA Seahawks
Comment: Gray is a good reserve guard and sometime starter. With several young linemen looking to break through the depth chart, Gray could be on the outside looking in, but the Seahawks might take a vet minimum flyer on a guy they can trust.
Billy Conaty UFA Vikings
Comment: With Pro Bowler Matt Birk and experienced backup Cory Withrow already established at the pivot, the Vikings aren't likely to call back their third-string center from 2004. But Conaty provided the Vikings with valuable depth during desperate times and showed his worth for making an NFL roster.
Eric Heitmann RFA 49ers
Kyle Kosier RFA 49ers
Steve Edwards RFA Bears
Terence Metcalf RFA Bears
Mike Pucillo RFA Bills
Chad Beasley RFA Browns
Damon Cook RFA Browns
Melvin Fowler RFA Browns
David Brandt RFA Chargers
Tyson Walter RFA Cowboys
Seth McKinney RFA Dolphins
Martin Bibla RFA Falcons
Michael Moore RFA Falcons
Dave Yovanovits RFA Jets
Jonathan Goodwin RFA Jets
Maake Kemoeatu RFA Ravens
Milford Brown RFA Texans
Jeremy Bridges ERFA Cardinals
Chris Dielman ERFA Chargers
Ben Noll ERFA Cowboys
Eric Wilson ERFA Dolphins
Billy Yates ERFA Patriots
Blaine Saipaia ERFA Rams

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