Free agent targets: Guards

The Bengals’ Evan Mathis could be a free agent steal after an injury-shortened 2010.

Following up from this morning’s article, here is a quick look at some free agent options at the Guard position, courtesy of this list that Pro Football Focus put together back in March. I’m culling that list down to a players who (a) played on the right side, and (b) don’t rate negatively in pass protection.

Harvey Dahl, Atlanta (Age: 30)

From PFF: When you think of Harvey Dahl, there are a few phrases that have been programmed into us. “Nasty player” and “plays after the whistle” come to mind, but he’s more than that.

Appeal: Atlanta has built a high-quality offensive line that has done an excellent job of keeping Matt Ryan upright and propelling his progress into the upper echelon of young quarterbacks. At the same time, this same line has been a dominating force in the run game for years, and allowed the team to plug a veteran RB in Michael Turner and get career best performances from him. An ideal team to poach from, and one that Devaney has experience with from a personnel standpoint.

Cons: Arguably the big-ticket guard on the list, may come at a premium.

Evan Mathis, Cincinnati (Age: 29) 

From PFF: Mathis returned from a brief injury and found himself in a rotation with Nate Livings. It was a strange decision, but not as strange as Mathis being dropped to the bench for nearly 90% of the 2010 season.

Appeal: Cincinnati’s version of John Greco, except with a very good year (at left guard) in 2009. Played a big role in the resurgence of Cedric Benson in the Bengals’ surprise playoff bid, as Benson rushed for 4.8 yards per carry on both lanes adjoining Mathis’ blocking. Scores highly in pass protection as well, allowing zero sacks in 648 snaps. Could be a relative bargain.

Cons: Hasn’t logged a full season in the last three years. Has played limited snaps at RG.

Mike Brisiel, Houston (Age: 28)

From PFF: Arian Foster had himself a great year, but how about some credit for that Texans offensive line? When Brisiel played, he was every bit a part of that.

Appeal: Tremendous run-blocker earned full-time starter status midway through the season, and excelled with the playing time. Has allowed only two sacks in the last two years.

Cons: Each of the past two seasons ended prematurely, thanks to injury. Has played sixteen games combined in two years.  

Richie Incognito, Miami (No, Really)

From PFF: For once, Richie lived up his name and stayed incognito for most of the year, eliminating the disciplinary issues that had plagued his career.

Appeal: If he really has been reformed, the Rams’ coaching staff know what kind of potential they’d be getting.

Cons: May never be welcomed back by fans. And can a zebra truly change his stripes?