The start of free agency begins next week, and the Cincinnati Bengals still have yet to strike a deal with offensive tackle Anthony Collins. While he has only 25 career starts over six seasons, he played well at left tackle in 2013, a premium position in today's pass-happy NFL.
Teams are paying $100+ million dollars to their quarterbacks, and the best kind of insurance they can get for them is a good blindside protector. In seven starts last year on the left side, Collins allowed no sacks or hits and just 12 hurries. If a team focuses on just those seven starts and his potential to play like that for a full season, he could get one of the bigger contracts any offensive lineman gets this offseason.
That being said, here's a look at the other free agent tackles set to hit the market:
1. Eugene Monroe - BLT
2. Jared Veldheer - OAK
3. Branden Albert - KC
4. Zach Strief - NO
5. Rodger Saffold - STL
6. Michael Oher - BLT
7. Austin Howard - NYJ
8. Will Svitek - NE
9. Charles Brown - NO
10. Breno Giacomini - SEA
It's also worth noting that Jordan Gross of the Carolina Panthers would have been one of the top players on this list, but he opted to retire this offseason. The three-time Pro Bowler was set to draw a contract that may pay him annually as much as anyone on this list, but he is now off the market.
It's untelling where the market for Collins will be compared to those players, but he'll likely be valued similarly to Strief and Saffold. Strief graded-out higher than Collins on PFF by 12.5 points. Saffold was inured and moved to guard this year after receiving a +8.6 grade in 2012.
Do teams value experience like those players have years of, or do they go with the upside and potential of Collins?
Ultimately, the market is going to be hard to gauge for Collins, and while it's unclear as to how much other teams value him, the Bengals certainly do and would love to keep him.