Steelers 2018 Free Agents Analysis: OL Chris Hubbard – Unrestricted

Player: Chris Hubbard

Position: Offensive Lineman

Experience: 4

Free Agent Status: Unrestricted

2017 Salary Cap Hit: $1,797,000

2017 Season Breakdown:

It wasn’t exactly the plan, but Chris Hubbard, entering his contract season, got just about everything he could have wanted out of 2017. Chiefly: significant, quality playing time at the position at which he is most comfortable.

The four-year veteran has been moved around throughout his career, once primarily being a guard and now primarily being a tackle, but given the way that he has spelled Marcus Gilbert at right tackle over the course of the past two seasons, it might be fair to say that is his best position.

Gilbert dealt with a hamstring injury in the first half of the season, and then was suspended for four games in the second half, which allowed Hubbard to take the majority of the snaps at right tackle. While Gilbert is certainly the better player of the two, there was no hindrance to the offense with the backup in the game.

While it’s hard to give highlights, exactly, of an offensive lineman’s season, it should be noted that Hubbard has quality movement ability for his position, which is something that his coaches have emphasized for years.

He has learned to be aggressive in pass protection with an early punch, which is excellent when it works, though problematic when it doesn’t. In the run game, he could stand to pack more punch in the booth, but he was an asset in space, and not a detriment in any one area.

It’s also worth pointing out that he played a pretty clean season, drawing only three penalties, two of which were for false starts. He had one holding call all the way back in Week Three, which was his first start (at tackle; he ‘started’ at tight end as an extra blocker in Week Two) of the season. The hold occurred on first down, and it did trigger a three-and-out late in the game.

Free Agency Outlook:

This might not have been thought possible, or at least probable, even a year ago, but the free agency prospects for Hubbard seem to most to be pretty decent. He was given a major cap in his feather by being afforded the opportunity to start so many games at right tackle this past season, thereby displaying his capability of being a full-time consideration on the market.

Like Kelvin Beachum, he may not be outright handed a starting job, but he should be able to find a team that is willing to pay him a decent salary and afford him an opportunity to compete for a role. And the good thing with him is that he can, at least hypothetically, compete at all five positions, though his likeliest position would be at right tackle, followed by either guard position. He has seen snaps in meaningful games at all five spots.

He is not going to wreck any team’s salary cap, but he very likely will command at least a few million in compensation. He was making nearly $2 million this season while projected to get no starting time, so it’s not unreasonable to imagine that he could get at least double that, perhaps in the ballpark of $5 million per season. The Ravens signed Austin Howard late in the proceedings for $5 million per season, while Mike Remmers signed for $6 million per season with the Vikings.

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