It’s very rare to have too many teams happy with the performance of their offensive line, and this season is no different. The New York Giants, Denver Broncos, Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals are all looking for ways to improve their O-line in the very near future.
The hot name right now is Joe Thomas of the Cleveland Browns. The 32-year old left tackle, a nine-time Pro Bowler and six-time All-Pro seems to be on the trading block considering how bad the Browns are (0-8, only team without a win), and the Giants are rumored to be looking into him. The Browns insist they’re not interested in moving Thomas, but it’s probably just to see how serious some teams are, and what they’re willing to give up, which right now is not a lot. Another losing team deploying the same strategy are the San Francisco 49ers, with Joe Staley probably available for a trade, but at a very high cost.
The Seahawks are at a very unique level of offensive line ineptness. They have the lowest-costing unit in the league, now starting George Fant, an undrafted rookie who never started a game in college or high school according to reports. They’re ranked just 28th in the NFL in adjusted line yards according to Football Outsiders, and Russell Wilson playing injured, which means he can’t do much escaping outside the pocket, has turned into an even bigger problem considering how limited they are with the o-line. Wilson has been playing injured since the beginning of the season.
Both the Broncos and Cardinals have offensive line issues in the interior. The Cardinals lost Evan Mathis for the season, and their center A.Q. Shipley has been disappointing. Acquiring a tackle isn’t ideal, but should give them some depth and flexibility, moving Jared Veldheer to the right side and sending D.J. Humphries to the bench. The Broncos are looking at left tackles so they can move Russell Okung to the right side, which enables them to put Donald Stephenson in the middle.
Still, what the 49ers and Browns are asking for seems very high. The interested teams might drop a tier when it comes to available players in their hopes of setting their offensive line issues straight, but it won’t be surprising if they fail to make a significant move. There’s always practice squads and free agents to go after, but those rarely offer a quick solution, not to mention a long term one.