- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer
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Maybe one reason the Cincinnati Bengals didn't place the franchise tag on Andre Smith is because of all the options available at right tackle this offseason. Even though Smith is considered the top right tackle available, the Bengals may see better value at that position in free agency and the draft. The Bengals have the most salary-cap room in the NFL, but they rightfully won't overpay Smith or anyone else.
A look at the top right tackles available in free agency, along with their ranking (among right tackles) by Pro Football Focus:
Gosder Cherilus, Lions (No. 2): Unlike many right tackles, Cherilus excels more in pass blocking than in opening holes for the running game. He was the best right tackle in the NFC North last season but is still among the most underappreciated blockers in the league.
Sebastian Vollmer, Patriots (No. 4): Vollmer is considered the most consistent blocker of this group and generally plays mistake-free football. It's an added bonus that he can play left tackle, as well.
Phil Loadholt, Vikings (No. 8): He's a powerful run-blocker with a mean streak who can be a liability in pass protection. The biggest drawback is penalties (11 last season).
Eric Winston, Chiefs (No. 9): He was cut by the Chiefs on Wednesday, a possible hint that Kansas City might use the No. 1 pick on that position. Winston didn't have his best season in 2012, but he has a proven track record.
The Bengals' plan at right tackle will become clearer once free agency begins Tuesday.