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NFL Free Agency: Ranking the Top 5 Free Agent Centers in 2022

Ranking the Top 5 Free Agent Centers in 2022. Centers tend to be the forgotten ones on the offensive line, but they can be vital to offensive success. Which players could add value to teams on the look for help this summer?
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NFL Free Agency: Ranking the Top 5 Free Agent Centers in 2022

Centers tend to be the forgotten ones on the offensive line, but they can be vital to offensive success. Which players could add value to teams on the look for help this summer?

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5. Ted Karras, New England Patriots

Karras was a relative unknown through his first three NFL seasons, but since then he's notched 15, 16, and 13 starts over his last three with New England. This year, he started every game from Week 5, logging a total of 829 snaps and allowing only three sacks. He ended the year with a solid 72.8 player grade, according to Pro Football Focus.

After earning $3 million on a one-year deal this past season, Karras is likely to parlay his success into a two- or three-year deal on the open market. He could fetch between $4 and 7 million a season, though the 28-year-old appears destined to return to the Patriots. He's stated his intention to do so, and New England could use him to start or as a depth piece. If he goes elsewhere, the Dolphins, Jaguars, or Giants are could-be landing spots.

4. Ryan Jensen, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Among this shortlist, Jensen came into 2021 with the largest cap hit at $10 million. What did he do to earn it? He produced his first Pro Bowl season after helping Tampa Bay to take home the title in the year prior. Jensen anchored Tom Brady's offensive line and returned a 70.3 PFF grade, playing the fifth-most snaps at the position and starting all 17 contests.

While Tampa has a decent amount of cap space at $18 million, they will be rivaled for Jensen's services in 2022. Miami will be in on just about any offensive lineman, while the Bengals, Bears, and Panthers are also looking to improve and have more cap space to maneuver with. Expect Jensen to get another deal around $10 million in annual value and, in all likelihood, three years to get him to his age-33 season.

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3. Ben Jones, Tennessee Titans

A lot of casual football players probably aren't aware of this, but over the years Jones has become a pillar of consistency at the center position. After four solid years with the Texans, during which he played guard and transitioned to center, he has since started all but one regular season matchup for the Titans. This year was no different, as he was fourth in snaps and limited his opponents to one sack. A 77.8 PFF grade reflects his high level of play in front of Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry.

The Titans are fairly strapped for cap space, so it's unlikely that they return the valuable veteran despite his role in the team's recent successes. Jones should at least command $10 million a year and upwards of $15 million if the right team comes to him with the right price. The usual candidates are out there, as are the Buccaneers and Rams -- two playoff teams that are due to lose their current centers to free agency.

2. Brian Allen, Los Angeles Rams

Speaking of the Rams, Allen is going to be sorely missed if they're unable to make their cash constraints work and bring him back. In his third full season, the 26-year-old started all 16 games and found his way to an impressive 80.2 PFF grade. He made less than $800,000 this year but we can expect him to ink a sizable contract.

The top centers carry market values of $10 million or more, and he should be among them, especially when you consider his age. At 26, he could be in for a three- or four-year commitment on a team that's either building around a young quarterback or looking to maintain a line in front of a veteran contender. A marriage with the Dolphins -- and a chunk of their team-high $64 million in cap space -- makes a lot of sense for their situation.

1. Jason Kelce, Philadelphia Eagles

Plain and simple: Jason Kelce is the standard. The 34-year-old is a five-time Pro Bowler, four-time All-Pro, and one-time Super Bowl champ for the Philadelphia Eagles. Given his long track record, and all the bumps and bruises that come alongside it, he may opt to retire at his age. However, if he makes it known that he's available everywhere will want him on their squad -- and rightfully so. This past year, he showed no signs of slowing down, posting an 84.4 PFF grade and giving up just one sack (four penalties) in his 993 snaps.

Equipped with more than $22 million in cap space, the Eagles will do what they can to bring back their guy and have him retire in a Philadelphia uniform. But in the case Kelce's top priority is a championship, he could go out and fetch a short deal for $9 to 12 million. The connection to Frank Reich and the Colts could push Kelce to the AFC. After all, they have $38 million to work with this offseason.

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Brett Oswalt has been writing about sports for five years, has covered everything from the NBA to College Football DFS, and previously served as an editor at numberFire. He is a Senior Workforce Planning Analyst at Highmark by day, and an avid sports fan and girl-dad by night. He resides in Pittsburgh, PA with his wife, Marley, daughter, Aria, and goldendoodle, Braun.


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