Guards enter Browns' free-agent picture

The Cleveland Browns dipped their first toe into the the guard waters Wednesday when they had Seattle's Paul McQuistan in for a visit. There are good reasons why it didn't happen sooner.

One is the list of guards on the market. It's not overwhelming.

The Browns also clearly prioritized safety, inside linebacker, receiver and running back in free agency, and there is no arguing those decisions. While the Browns were active at those spots, the best guards were coming off the board.

But that is not a terrible thing, because guards often can be plugged in. The thinking on them is they generally do not warrant a top salary because they can be protected by good players around them.

If the Browns retain center Alex Mack, that helps the guards more.

At this point any guard signed as a free agent would be a lower-priced guy with potential.

Here are the top available guards, per the free-agent tracker of ESPN’s Bill PolianInsider, along with a brief synopsis of the players’ abilities from Polian. For more on the list and the players, check out this link, which gives Polian's complete analysis.

  • Eben Britton, Chicago -- He started four games last season.

  • John Jerry, Miami -- Because of weight issues, Polian calls him a backup

  • Paul McQuistan, Seattle -- Versatile, but lacks quickness to pass-protect

  • Wade Smith, Houston -- Regressed after going to the Pro Bowl in 2012

  • Davin Joseph, Tampa Bay -- He’s 30 and had his two poorest seasons in ’12 and ’13

The next five include three players relesed by their teams: Zach Allen of Indianapolis, Daryn Colledge of Arizona (cut), Harvey Dahl of St. Louis (cut), Ray Dominguez of Dallas (cut), and Dylan Gandy of Detroit.

At this point, it appears the Browns are looking as much to their current roster or the draft as they are free agency for the solution, though adding someone at the right price is never a bad idea.

It’s a guarded, but logical approach.