When free agency opens March 11, the Redskins will have about $30 million in cap space and lots of holes to fill. Over the next few weeks, Redskins Insider Tarik El-Bashir will examine the field of potential free agents, by position, and evaluate who might be a fit in Washington.
Today, we’re looking at guards.
Background: Yesterday, we examined the free agent market for tackles—just in case the Redskins decide to kick the tires. Today, we’ll survey some of Jay Gruden’s options at guard. LG Kory Lichtensteiger is significantly smaller than the guards Gruden used in Cincinnati, but he was consistent in 2013 and is a good bet to return as a starter. RG Chris Chester, however, has decent size but he struggled after a strong 2012 and could be in jeopardy. If the team does not believe young reserves Adam Gettis and/or Josh LeRibeus are ready to make the jump, it’s possible they’ll look to sign a veteran.
Best available: Although there’s no real consensus here, Carolina’s Travelle Wharton (6-4, 312) enjoyed a strong 2013 and sits atop a handful of free agent rankings (which probably says something about this year’s free agent class at guard). After opening the season as a reserve, Wharton became the starter at left guard in Week 6. He’ll be 33 in May, which will no doubt impact his appeal (and price) on the open market.
Best fit: Geoff Schwartz, Chiefs. Started six of the last seven games at right guard after taking over for Jon Asamoah. Schwartz also made one start at left guard in 2013 and can play tackle in a pinch. At 6-6, 340-pounds, Schwartz possesses the size Gruden prefers at guard. He’s coming off a strong season, is in his prime years and won’t break the bank. It should be noted that Schwartz and the Chiefs have both acknowledged that they’d like to get an extension hammered out.
Best of the rest: Jon Asamoah (Chiefs) is 25, 6-4/305 and has started 41 of 59 career games, mostly at right guard; Zane Beadles (Broncos) is 27, 6-4/305 and was a Pro Bowl selection in 2012; Willie Colon (Jets) is 30, 6-3/315 and will be coming off a torn biceps suffered in Week 17.