The Carolina released offensive lineman Nate Chandler after he missed the entire 2015 NFL season. The once defensive player turned line protector will have a lot of interest in him despite spending last season in the IR, with division rivals the Tampa Bay Buccaneers interested, but they’re not alone, as the Seattle Seahawks, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings and Baltimore Ravens should be going after him.
Chandler isn’t going to come back to Carolina. They released him and saved $1.3 million of cap space, also cancelling his deal for the same amount of money ($1.7 million cap hit) in 2017. There’s not a whole lot lower Chandler can go, and for someone who can play at both guard and the tackle positions, he probably won’t have to, although teams could get suspicious regarding his current medical condition.
Chandler played 16 games at right guard for the Panthers in 2013, starting eight of them. He moved to right tackle in 2014, starting in 11 games. He headed into training camp with the shot of competing for the starting job with Mike Remmers but his knee issues kept him on the injured reserve. He went undrafted in 2012 coming out of UCLA where he played as a defensive tackle, and after playing on the defensive line during his rookie season, flipped to OL in 2013.
The Buccaneers probably have a starting role in mind for Chandler, expecting Logan Mankins to retire. It’s hard to see that as a guarantee on other teams. All of them might have more expensive free agents on their mind when it comes to improving the offensive line, but Chandler seems like a good and useful pickup to have. Not just because he isn’t in a position to ask for too much money, but also, if he’s healthy, the solving two problems at once with his ability to play on the edge or shoulder to shoulder with the center.
The best offensive line players hitting free agency are Richie Incognito, but he might be going back to the Buffalo Bills, and Evan Mathis after winning the Super Bowl with the Denver Broncos, but he might retire. Ryan Schrader of the Atlanta Falcons is considered as the best offensive tackle hitting the free agency market.