2012 NFL Free Agency – Center

Chris Myers            Will Montgomery           Scott Wells              Samson Satele

(Here’s the list of veteran centers currently scheduled to be unrestricted free agents come March.)

Should an NFL team be looking for a guy to snap the ball for their offense and do it well, 2012 unrestricted free agency has the opportunity to provide help.

Count the Chiefs among those teams. Veteran center Casey Wiegmann has given every indication last year was his last. At 38 and with 16 seasons under his belt, Wiegmann was on the way to a very good season before a bevy of injuries slowed him down over the second half of the season. He didn’t miss a play, but Wiegmann was not physically 100 percent, especially with a pair of dislocated fingers – one on each hand – that made it tough for him to reach out and grab a blocker and maintain his (legal) hold.

Ready to step in for Wiegmann if that time every came was rookie Rodney Hudson. At Florida State, Hudson was strictly a guard and only worked the center position during practices, so while the Chiefs want to get Hudson on the field in 2012 and into the lineup, left guard may be a better spot for him than center.

That would depend on the Chiefs finding a center somewhere else, and this year that somewhere is in free agency. Two of the league’s best centers during the 2011 NFL season are without contracts at this point – Houston’s Chris Myers and Green Bay’s Scott Wells.

Two others rated in the top 10 are also scheduled to become free agents – Jeff Saturday of Indianapolis and Atlanta’s Todd McClure. Both are 30-plus in age or have dealt with a history of injuries.

After them are a trio of plus-rated centers that are a bit younger – Oakland Samson Satele, Will Montgomery of Washington and San Diego’s Nick Hardwick.

After talking with pro personnel scouts and executives around the league, here are our top four centers that could be available in unrestricted free agency.

1. Chris Myers/Houston

Numbers – 6-4, and anywhere from 285 to 295 pounds; he’s played 6 seasons and he’ll be 31 years old for the 2012 season opener (9/15/1981); a 6th-round choice in 2005 by Denver out of the University of Miami; he’s played 105 games with 80 starts, almost all at center.

Strength/Weakness – Outstanding run blocker; a technician that can also play with strength; great first step after snap allows him to gain edge on defenders; in the zone blocking scheme Texans use he’s very good at getting to the second level; lightweight compared to many centers, more along the lines of Casey Wiegmann; leader who handled all protection calls and was also a team captain.

Info – Pro Bowl replacement pick for AFC team in 2011, replacing Pittsburgh’s Maurkice Pouncey; durable guy (97% of snaps in ’11) that only missed plays in a meaningless regular-season finale; over the season he allowed just a single sack and his man touched the quarterback just two other times; very intelligent and active in the community – outstanding representative for the team.

Financials – signed with Houston as a restricted free agent in 2008, eventually Broncos and Texans worked out a sign-trade deal, with Denver getting a sixth-round draft choice. Myers signed a 4-year, $11 million contract with $3 million guaranteed. He had a $3.5 million base salary for the 2011 season.

Overview – It’s hard to imagine the Texans allowing Myers to get away, especially since it was Houston head coach Gary Kubiak who basically snuck him out of Denver in a trade three years after he was drafted by the Broncos.

2. Scott Wells/Green Bay

Numbers – 6-2, 295 pounds; he’s played eight seasons and on opening day of the 2012 season he’ll be 31 years old (1/17/1981); a 7th-round draft choice by Green Bay out of the University of Tennessee; he’s played in 111 games, with 100 starts.

Strength/Weakness – One of the best pass blockers working at center in the league right now; good feet, good slide, good quickness; he sometimes has troubles with the biggest nose tackles when they line up on his nose, but he’s got good strength and wins more of those battles than he loses; Wells keeps improving and despite breaking the 30-year old mark, his arrow continues to point up.

Info – Pro Bowl selection in 2011, Wells was called the Packers best lineman by head coach Mike McCarthy; just two years ago he lost starting job to Jason Spitz but was back in the lineup by the third game of the season; a fairly durable player, he’s missed only one game over the last three years, but he’s had surgery on his shoulder (torn labrum) along with back and arm injuries.

Financials – He signed a 3-year deal coming into the league from the Draft, and then in November 2006 he signed a 5-year extension worth $15 million that carried him through the 2011 season.

Overview – Just two seasons ago, it appeared Wells was on his way out of Green Bay. Coming off shoulder surgery, he lost his starting job and the Packers were fielding inquiries on his situation; now, he’s coming off a Pro Bowl season with a team that won the Super Bowl just two years ago; it’s going to take a lot to get Wells out of the land of cheese.

3. Samson Satele/Oakland

Numbers – 6-3, 300 pounds; he’s played five seasons and he’ll be 27 years for the 2012 season opener (11/29/1984); a 2nd-round choice in 2007 by the Miami Dolphins out of the University of Hawaii; he’s played in 78 games with 74 starts.

Strength/Weakness – Better run blocker than pass protector; despite size, he’s more finesse than he is mauler; not real strong; sometimes has trouble handling bigger nose tackles as his foot work fails him and he loses leverage; is good on the run and in movement; he allowed two QB sacks in the 2011 season, plus one other hit on his thrower;

Info – After two seasons in Miami, Satele was traded to the Raiders in exchange for a sixth-round choice and the teams swapped selections in the fourth round; reason for the trade was the Dolphins had signed former Oakland center Jake Grove earlier that season; for the most part he’s been a durable player, missing just two games in five seasons, both due to concussions; he had major surgery on a torn labrum in his shoulder after the 2008 season.

Financials – He was an unrestricted free agent last year but drew little interest around the league before he re-signed on a one-year deal with the Raiders. Satele’s original deal coming into the league was a 4-year deal for $2.89 million.

Overview – Satele would not come without some weaknesses in his game, but his ability to block for the run would be huge for the Chiefs offensive scheme; he’s shown a willingness to stay in Oakland and may have no desire to move on. In this case money will talk. Satele will get overpaid because that’s the nature of free agency. Teams like the Chiefs will have to decide how much over their number they might be willing to go.

4. Will Montgomery/Washington

Numbers – 6-3, 312 pounds; he’s played 6 seasons and on the opening day of the 2012 season he’ll be 29 years old (2/13/1983); a 7th-round choice in 2006 by Carolina out of Virginia Tech; he’s played 58 games with 31 starts for the Panthers, Jets and Redskins.

Strength/Weakness – Smart, leader in the middle of the offense; versatile player that has jumped into both guard spots when necessary because of injuries; he’s a far better blocker for the run game than in pass protection.

Info – A durable player who was on the field for every offensive snap in the ’11 season; he started 13 games at center and moved over to left guard for three starts when injuries forced a shuffle in the ‘Skins offensive line; he allowed two sacks on the season and six other plays where his man on defense knocked down the passer; he was a walk on in college as a defensive lineman; bounced from Carolina to the New York Jets before getting a chance to play center at the end of the 2010 season where veteran center Casey Rabach was injured.

Financials – Montgomery first joined the Redskins in December 2008 as a street free agent, after spending time earlier that season with the Jets; re-signed by Washington in 2010 to a two-year contract that paid him $2.4 million in salary and bonuses.

Overview – Montgomery grew up in the Washington D.C. area and was a Redskins fan as a kid, so it will be hard to pry him away from the ‘Skins; given his progress in the last few years, it appears his arrow is still pointing up; at 29, he should still have four to five years of quality play.

6 Responses to “2012 NFL Free Agency – Center”

  • February 15, 2012  - johnfromfairfax says:

    This may be the first indication of how serious the Chiefs are about upgrading. With 60 mil plus in reserve there is certainly no reason we can’t be players in FA this year other than not wanting to be. You can’t cure all your ills through FA but you can certainly plug some weaknesses and shore up positions and this is one area of strength in FA that’s a weak spot for us. Go off season Chiefs!

  • February 15, 2012  - Michael says:

    I don’t think the Texans or Packers will let Myers or Wells go. I like Montgomery more than Satele; I think he’s a better player and also bigger and more durable. There’s a chance the Pat’s Dan Koppen or the Ravens Andre Gurode might also be available. It appears the Chiefs will give Hudson every chance at the Center spot, though, and that’s a good move. I think they’ve tried Darryl Harris (who can’t seem to stay healthy)at center also. It’s apparent centers can be found in the draft’s mid to late rounds or even with college FA’s; so KC might go that way, too. Still, a good, sturdy veteran at a reasonable price would be a nice addition, and cover the Chiefs if center doesn’t turn out to be the best spot for Hudson.

  • February 15, 2012  - Blake says:

    I think a lot depends on what we are going to run. Daboll and Bicknell are both power guys not zone. So KC could be moving away from the zone blocking scheme, if so that eliminates some of these centers. I doubt any of these 4 guys are signed by KC.

  • February 15, 2012  - txchief says:

    I agree with Michael, as the Texans and Cheeseheads are in cap trouble and would therefore be more likely to let a center go in free agency. Gurode and Koppen are a liitle older than Myers and Wells, and both have recent injury histories.

    I heard that Stanford Routt stayed a second day in KC. If Routt is signed and the Chiefs resign Carr, the team will be set quite nicely at CB.

  • February 15, 2012  - el cid says:

    Suspect Carr walks if Routt is signed.

    Of the teams listed raiders are the worse off cap wise. But they have to have a center so not sure if they have a cheaper option.

  • February 16, 2012  - ED J says:

    Agreed el cid certainly looks that way. I think they want to go into free agency with Bowe hit with franchise tag and another corner to replace Carr which seems to be Routt. I don’t mind that move as long as we upgrade nose tackle, tight end, and RB in free agency. Routt much more athletic than Carr and can provide similar production playing alongside of Flowers. Their are some really good nose tackle in free agency we need look into. Along with some good tight end that can provide depth behind Moeaki. Especially since he hasn’t proved to be that durable yet. Ben Jarvis Green-Ellis would be upgrade over Jackie Battle to me and would make good fit as power back to Jamal Charles. So as long as we feel some other wholes I’m find with letting Carr walk especially if he’s asking 14 to 16 mill per yr like it rumored he is.

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