As discussed in the previous article, the top 3 options for right tackle in this free agency period are (in no order): Sebastian Vollmer, Andre Smith, and Eric Winston. Lots of teams will be making a run at these players, some will turn away due to scheme fit, some for financial reason, some for injury history (regardless of last season) and some for character or other reasons.
If you have the opportunity to look at all these players in depth and find them all to fit within your organization at an acceptable price, then you must find another way to narrow it down.First up, age.
Winston: 29 (Nov. 17, 1983)
Vollmer: 28 (July 10, 1984)
Smith: 26 (Jan. 25, 1987)
Alright, Andre Smith has now pulled ahead (again, if you find them nearly equal). Vollmer and Winston are approaching 30 and the average personnel man would look at them, but wonder how many 'valuable' years are left for either player. If you get 3, then sign them to a contract that is team friendly on the back end and you have yourself a solution to a problem. However, if they're injured for 1 year out of the 3 you were supposed to get, then you lost more. Is two years worth it? These are the types of questions that must be asked when giving a player a "5" year deal. I put 5 in quotes because they will be structured in particular manners.
Regardless, Winston plays hard and solid and will receive a nice deal. Vollmer is in the same position, though a year younger. Vollmer would win between the two--again, if you find them similar in talent. Smith dominates the category. Now, on to the most important: games played.
Winston: 108 games played, 103 started
Vollmer: 51 games played, 44 started
Smith: 43 games played, 35 started
Now, it looks much different doesn't it. With an equal chance at the three, you no longer shove too much money at Andre Smith because he is your best option. You let the two decide. Whoever accepts what you rule an, at minimum, fair contract gets the job. The other player might not get as much money. How much do they and your agent really want to risk the money for more money? It really is a game.
What did we learn? Winston is a good option that would really help almost any team. The real story is that Smith and Vollmer are both great options and Vollmer's age is a false stat for projecting how long his football future could last. So, maybe Vollmer comes cheaper but plays effectively for the same length of time.
Advantage--> Jaguars Front Office.
With Jake Long now signing a reasonable contract with the Rams (4 years, $36 million and $16 million guaranteed) the tackle market begins to take shape. The top-tier right tackles will not fare as well on the market but will most likely garner over $10 million in guarantees.