Deshan Watson’s decision to join the Cleveland Browns (with a massive, fully guaranteed contract) does more than bring much clarity to the NFL’s complex quarterback situation. It should mean some quick movement in the stalled offensive tackle market in NFL free agency.
NFL Free Agency: Offensive tackles will likely soon find homes
1. It allows teams that set cap space aside in case Watson picked them to spend that money on other needs (the Falcons and Saints, most notably).
2. It gives clarity to free agent tackle Terron Armstead, who PFN Aaron Wilson reported earlier in the week was holding off on his decision until Watson made his choice.
What will Terron Armstead decide?
Armstead was hopeful to rejoin the Saints in the event that Watson picked New Orleans over Cleveland, Atlanta, and Carolina. He saw teaming up with Watson as a great opportunity to win a Super Bowl.
Could he follow Watson to Cleveland? Theoretically, yes. But the Browns have Jedrick Wills at left tackle, a former first-round pick who is not only more than adequate at the position, but also on his rookie contract, so much cheaper than Armstead would be.
Could the Browns sign Armstead and trade Wills in an attempt to recoup some draft capital lost in the Watson blockbuster? Sure, but it’s rarely wise to give up on a 22-year-old talented offensive lineman to acquire a 30-year-old, oft-injured offensive lineman.
So Armstead will likely land elsewhere. Options include returning to New Orleans with a much-less promising quarterback situation or signing with a new team. The Miami Dolphins, Cincinnati Bengals, Seattle Seahawks, and Chicago Bears are among the clubs that need tackle help.
Free Agent Offensive Tackles: The best of the rest
Those teams have options beyond just Armstead, who entered free agency as the No. 1 tackle on the market. Three others should draw significant interest in the coming days and perhaps even hours.
Duane Brown (formerly of the Seahawks), La’El Collins (Cowboys), and Trent Brown (Patriots) would all be an upgrade at tackle for a bunch of teams.
Trent Brown met with the Seahawks this week and could find a home there, particularly if they decide to move on from Duane Brown. Collins, cut by the Cowboys on Thursday, met with the Bengals on Friday.