The contract Hutchinson commanded from the Minnesota Vikings put other top guards in position to cash much fatter paychecks.
The position has assumed the spotlight in the NFC West recently. The San Francisco 49ers used a first-round pick for a guard in the 2010 draft. The Seahawks used a 2011 third-round choice for Wisconsin guard John Moffitt. Their first-rounder, tackle James Carpenter, appealed to them in part because he can play guard as well. The Arizona Cardinals watched left guard Alan Faneca retire while wondering whether right guard Deuce Lutui would hit free agency.
The St. Louis Rams, meanwhile, failed to address the position in the draft, creating questions about how the team might proceed in free agency. But what if their next starting right guard is already on the roster?
"John Greco is much better than anyone realizes and will be a starting-caliber guard if they give him a chance," Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. told me recently.
Greco, 26, started three games in 2009 and one in 2008. He played in six games last season, but did not start. The Rams selected Greco in the third round of the 2008 draft, a couple of months after current general manager Billy Devaney arrived as executive vice president of player personnel. Veteran Adam Goldberg started all 16 games at right guard last season. He has 30 starts over the last two seasons.
Greco, meanwhile, hasn't done much.
"They should be excited about him," Williamson said. "He doesn't have a discernible trait where he is a real masher or a wonderful technician or a great athlete, but he is good at all of the above and he really has a nasty streak to him. He is somebody to keep an eye on."
Goldberg, valued for his versatility and leadership, has started 58 games over seven NFL seasons, including two with the Vikings.
"Goldberg, to me, is a great six," Williamson said. "He can play a lot of positions. Keep him in the offensive line meeting room, but keep him off the field."
Counterpoint: Former Rams executive Tony Softli, who was with the team when it drafted Softli, questioned Greco's toughness and said it was time for the team to pat ways with him. Assist to Facebook friend Paul for pointing out Softli's recent evaluation.