Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Ricky Wagner is expected to sign a contract worth more than $9 million per year with the Detroit Lions, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, taking the top offensive tackle off the free agency market.
It’s not surprising that Wagner, a 27-year-old right tackle with three years of starting experience in Baltimore got paid a decent contract. Mike Garafolo of NFL Network said the offensive tackle was “going to blow the lid off the right tackle market” with a deal worth more than $8 million per year.
But even $9 million per year won’t put Wagner in the top 15 highest-paid offensive lineman in the NFL, and still leaves him well behind Lane Johnson’s five-year, $56.26 million deal — the highest for any right tackle. Johnson was a first-round pick in 2013 and will likely become the left tackle of the future for the Philadelphia Eagles, leaving Wagner as the highest-paid right tackle.
In previous years the market for right tackle has been about half as lucrative as the one for the left side of the offensive line. Neither Bryan Bulaga with the Green Bay Packers nor Mitchell Schwartz with the Kansas City Chiefs received deals worth more than $7 million per year, while left tackles Trent Williams and Cordy Glenn each have deals that average more than $14 million.
The question is whether Wagner’s contract represents a rise for the entire offensive tackle market, or the shifting thought that the right tackle isn’t half as important as left tackle. Will the next blockbuster deal for a left tackle be closer to Williams’ five-year, $68 million deal in Washington? Or will it come close to doubling the deal received by Wagner?
While Wagner’s deal is higher than some expected, it’s still reasonable enough that the other offensive tackles will likely be worth less, even though they can provide an instant boost to a starting offensive line. Among the other tackles on the market are Andrew Whitworth, Russell Okung, Ryan Clady, and Riley Reiff.
The nature of the free agency market demands players be overpaid. There are rumors that Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Mike Glennon is likely to receive as much as $15 million per year when he hits the open market.
A fifth-round pick in 2013, Wagner became a full-time starter for the Ravens in 2014. The Lions can use the help after finishing No. 30 in the NFL in rushing yards in 2016 and below the league average in total yards and points.