Potential Landing Spots for Free-Agent RT Morgan Moses

Brent Sobleski@@brentsobleskiNFL AnalystMay 22, 2021

Washington Football Team offensive tackle Morgan Moses (76) during an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

Morgan Moses has been one of the NFL's most reliable offensive linemen over the last six seasons, yet the Washington Football Team released its right tackle Thursday due to financial reasons. A high-quality free agent is now on the market much later than expected, and teams still scrambling to address their offensive fronts have an opportunity to solidify their line with one signing.

The decision wasn't performance-based. The 30-year-old veteran posted a career-high Pro Football Focus grade in 2020 and was the sixth-highest-graded right tackle. While an average pass-blocker, Moses excelled as a run-blocker and finished 13th among offensive tackles in run block win rate, according to ESPN's Seth Walder. Most importantly, the seven-year veteran started 96 straight regular-season games, and that type of accountability is difficult to find even when the market is flush with talent. 

Meanwhile, Washington is looking forward to its future with the $7.8 million the team saves with the right tackle's release.

In the short term, the team can move forward with Cornelius Lucas opposite the recently acquired Charles Leno Jr. until second-round rookie Samuel Cosmi is ready to take over the position. The organization can also use some of its newfound financial flexibility to start discussions regarding contract extensions with guard Brandon Scherff, defensive lineman Jonathan Allen and tight end Logan Thomas. 

Waiting this long to make the decision was a disservice to a longtime locker room favorite, though. In the last couple of weeks, the Baltimore Ravens and Denver Broncos signed Alejandro Villanueva and Bobby Massie, respectively, to address their right tackle spots. Moses would have been an excellent fit in both situations.

However, those two did set the market for squads still in search of a strong-side blocker. Villanueva signed a two-year, $14 million deal, while Massie agreed to a one-year, $4 million contract. Moses skews more toward Villanueva than Massie, though the former's 2021 salary-cap charge sits at $4.75 million. 

Moses' projected salary coupled with immediate need found on certain rosters scales the options back to a handful of teams with the capability of adding the free agent. Three immediately jump to the forefront as possible suitors. 


Pittsburgh Steelers 

Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

The Steelers have the least to offer from a financial perspective among those in need of Moses' services, though the organization can still sign its rookie class with a little more room to maneuver. In doing so, Pittsburgh brings the most to the table in the immediate future. 

In seven seasons, Moses played in only two postseason games. Washington bowed out of the Wild Card Round in both 2015 and last season. The Steelers have one more year with two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Ben Roethlisberger leading the way. 

Roethlisberger's skill set may be deteriorating, but the Steelers' front office has done everything it can to make life easier on the 39-year-old signal-caller, except properly rebuild its offensive front. 

Pittsburgh will score plenty this fall with Chase Claypool, Diontae Johnson and JuJu Smith-Schuster at wide receiver, Eric Ebron and Pat Freiermuth at tight end and this year's first-round selection, running back Najee Harris, serving as the offensive focal point. 

Harris, in particular, should create a ripple effect throughout the entire team. 

"Having a guy like that that can tote the rock 30 to 40 times a game really puts an ease for the defense," four-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman Cameron Heyward told reporters. "He can do multiple things. I think the investment in our offense this offseason has been huge."

The team's new workhorse back will need help from the big boys up front, but the Steelers offensive line remains in flux. Villanueva, Maurkice Pouncey and Matt Feiler are gone. Chukwuma Okorafor is expected to move from right to left tackle, while Kevin Dotson takes over left guard full time. Center remains a point of contention, but third-round rookie Kendrick Green should take over snapping duties. Right guard David DeCastro is the anchor for the entire unit. Of the five spots, right tackle is a major problem. 

Maybe Zach Banner returns from a torn ACL and secures the position long-term. Or, the Steelers could hedge their bets and likely improve at the position by pursuing and signing Moses. With Moses in tow, the Steelers front should be solidified for this upcoming season with the potential to be a very good unit depending on how Okorafor and Green transition into their new roles. 

If Moses wants the best opportunity to win now, Pittsburgh is the logical landing spot. 


Cincinnati Bengals

Al Drago/Associated Press

The Bengals have made moves to address their offensive line woes, but has the front office done enough to be comfortable with Joe Burrow's protection going into the 2021 season? 

"We've continued to add guys who have a great understanding and love for the game of football, on top of the guys we already have in the mix," Bengals coach Zac Taylor told reporters during draft weekend. "We're starting to feel really good about that group and who we have in there to compete."

To be fair, the Bengals signed veteran tackle Riley Reiff and drafted Clemson's Jackson Carman, who will convert to guard, in this year's second round. Quinton Spain will have a full offseason with the team under his belt as well, though his two previous teams chose to replace him in the lineup. 

Also, a significant difference exists between a team doing everything in its power to address its biggest need and feeling like it has enough to compete. Individuals who understand the game and love the game only go so far. The Bengals sorely lacked NFL-caliber talent last season and marginally improved their front five this offseason. The unit may not be one of the league's worst, but it doesn't project to be significantly better, even with the rehiring of position coach Frank Pollack. 

Moses' availability presents an unexpected opportunity. 

Reiff shouldn't be settled at right tackle, especially since he is currently expected to make the transition from the left to right side anyhow. Guard should remain in play as well. 

"Heck, I'll play whatever as long as it helps the team," Reiff said last year when the topic of a transition to guard was broached, per the St. Paul Pioneer-Press' Chris Tomasson

A front five of (from left to right) Jonah Williams, Carman, Trey Hopkins, Reiff and Moses might be the best possible outcome for the Bengals after a shaky start to building the unit. Even if it isn't, Cincinnati should be doing everything in its power to protect last year's No. 1 overall pick.


Carolina Panthers

David Berding/Associated Press

Yes, Moses has been a career right tackle. And, yes, the Panthers need a left tackle to anchor their offensive front. 

The franchise certainly isn't going to move Taylor Moton from one side to the other. Moton is one of the game's best right tackles, and he'll play the 2021 season on the franchise tag. So, Carolina certainly understands his value. 

But a look across the formation should send shivers down quarterback Sam Darnold's spine. Currently, the Panthers' starting left tackle is....um, who knows? 

Saying Carolina has a hole on its blind side is an understatement. Right now, the team has a gravity-sucking black hole when it comes to protecting Darnold's backside. 

The team's options consist of former first-round bust Cameron Erving, second-round disappointment Greg Little, three-year veteran Trent Scott—who previously bombed as the Los Angeles Chargers left tackle fill-in—and third-round rookie Brady Christensen. Although, the Panthers staff seems to like Christensen more at guard than tackle. 

"When we drafted him, we thought he was a guy who could play tackle but also would be an elite guard," head coach Matt Rhule told reporters. "Whether he can snap or not, has the ability to make those calls, that’s what these camps are for, but we saw him as the guy that had four-position flexibility. We move them around a little bit right now just to give them some exposure." 

Clearly, worse options exist than signing Moses and converting him to left tackle. After all, his first career start came at left tackle, and he played the position during his senior season with the Virginia Cavaliers. 

Is Moses' signing an ideal fit for him or the team? No.

At the same time, the veteran blocker's addition would give the Panthers their best option to play left tackle. His addition would create a functional front five to see what Darnold has and allot Carolina's talented skill-position performers room to operate. 


Brent Sobleski covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @brentsobleski.