Armstead is the best available free agent on PFF’s Free Agency Board after the tag deadline and is projected to fetch a three-year, $60 million deal with $47.5 million guaranteed. Given his past play, that kind of contract is well warranted.
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He is a technician as a pass-blocker. Armstead has produced a top-10 pass-blocking grade among qualifying tackles in each of the past seven seasons. He’s allowed a pressure on a mere 3.7% of his pass-blocking reps over that span, tying with reigning Super Bowl champion Andrew Whitworth for the best among NFL tackles. In the run game, Armstead can fit into any scheme. Since 2015, the Arkansas-Pine Bluff product sits at the 95th percentile in grade on man runs and the 88th percentile in grade on zone runs.
There may be some concerns about his durability and age, but he is still a high-quality, explosive athlete and is showing no signs of slowing down when healthy. There are several NFL teams in dire need of a reliable left tackle to protect their quarterback, which will boost Armstead’s market next week.
Here are the top landing spots for one of the NFL’s best tackles in 2022 NFL free agency:
Miami’s tackles in 2021 combined for a 50.8 PFF grade — the lowest among all 32 tackle rooms by over eight grading points. The team allowed an NFL-high 41% pressure rate. Put simply, the offensive line was a mess in 2021. And it’s going to be difficult for the Dolphins to obtain an immediate impact offensive lineman in the 2022 NFL Draft, as their first pick is 29th overall.
But with the second-most cap space available to spend in free agency, expect Miami to do whatever it takes to sure up the offensive line. The team has been interested in Armstead’s services since the end of the season, per NFL Network’s Mike Giardi. New head coach Mike McDaniel — coming from the San Francisco 49ers — is going to want his version of Trent Williams in his wide-zone offense and could look toward Armstead to be that guy.
Cincinnati’s offensive line in 2021 was once again a liability. The team made the right decision by taking wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase in the top five of last year’s NFL draft over an offensive tackle, but the 2022 offseason should be dedicated to the trenches.
Cincinnati’s unit produced a 53.0 pass-blocking grade last season, the worst by a Super Bowl team in the past decade by 16 grading points and the third-worst of the 2021 season. The Bengals still rank sixth in available cap space after tagging safety Jessie Bates III, and they are likely to pursue multiple veteran offensive linemen when the tampering period opens. Signing Armstead to play left tackle, kicking Jonah Williams over to right tackle, signing another veteran interior offensive lineman and spending the No. 31 overall pick on another interior lineman would be the team’s best-case scenario this offseason.
New general manager Ryan Poles — a former offensive lineman — has hinted at a complete overhaul upfront for the Chicago Bears. Specifically, adding lighter and more athletic offensive linemen. Given how the group fared in 2021, this doesn’t come as a surprise.
Justin Fields‘ nine-sack outing against the Cleveland Browns will always be remembered as a lowlight of the 2021 11th overall pick’s rookie campaign. Fields was under pressure on 43.3% of his dropbacks in 2021, the second-highest rate in the NFL. Chicago doesn’t have nearly as much money to spend this offseason as Miami, but the team does rank 12th in available money to spend ($23.6 million). Signing Armstead to pair with Teven Jenkins at the other tackle spot and Cody Whitehair somewhere along the interior would be a step in the right direction for the Bears.
Indianapolis could be in need of a new left tackle with Eric Fisher set to hit free agency. The Colts brought Fisher in last offseason, and he debuted in Week 2 after tearing his Achilles earlier in the year in the AFC title game with the Kansas City Chiefs. Upon Fisher's return, though, it was clear he had lost a step. He earned a 61.0 pass-blocking grade, his lowest by over double-digit points since his first few years in the league in 2013 and 2014. Indianapolis has plenty of cash to spend to shore up the spot if it wants to ($42.2 million per Over The Cap, the fourth-most in the NFL).
Armstead may not be attracted to the Panthers given the current state of the offense, but Carolina could provide an offer too good to ignore. Right tackle Taylor Moton was the team's only offensive lineman to earn a pass-blocking grade above 65.0 in 2021. Carolina's left tackle spot ranks second-worst in PFF grade since Matt Rhule arrived as head coach in 2020. If the Panthers — who owns just one top-100 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft — feel confident enough right now to select a quarterback at No. 6 overall, they will do whatever they can to find a new left tackle in free agency.