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30 Oct 2009
by J.I. Halsell
After a brief detour to take a look at the Redskins' salary cap mismanagement, this week we return to our analysis of the highest paid starters in the league by looking at the men in the trenches who play offensive tackle.
The table below shows that for the second consecutive season, a rookie is one of the highest paid players at offensive tackle. Rams right tackle and No. 2 overall pick in the draft Jason Smith averages $10.8 million per year, ranking him second among highest-paid offensive tackles. Smith follows on the heels of Dolphins left tackle Jake Long, who as the No. 1 overall pick in 2008 came into the league as the highest paid player at his position.
In February, the Carolina Panthers signed Pro Bowl left tackle Jordan Gross to a contract extension averaging $9.4 million per year with $24.5 million guaranteed, which ranks fourth among offensive tackles. Subsequently, after trading for him, the Eagles renegotiated the contract of Pro Bowler and former Buffalo Bill Jason Peters, making him the highest paid offensive tackle in the game at nearly $13 million per year of new money. As we look towards next season's crop of potential unrestricted free agents at left tackle (New Orleans' Jammal Brown, San Diego's Marcus McNeill, and Baltimore's impending restricted free agent Jared Gaither), one would not think that any of those players will eclipse Gross' $9.4 million average and most certainly not approach Peters' $13 million mark. It would not be surprising, however, to see one of these players sign a contract in the neighborhood of $7.5 to $8 million per year, which, when looking at the extension of young tackles, would put them in the same neighborhood as Tennessee's Michael Roos, who received $7.2 million per year on his 2008 extension.
Not surprisingly, the top ten list below is dominated by left tackles. The Dolphins' book-ends of left tackle Long and right tackle Vernon Carey are the only tandem where both players appear in the top ten. By virtue of his $7 million average per year, Carey is the highest paid right tackle in the league not playing on a rookie contract. Pittsburgh right tackle Willie Colon, whether in Pittsburgh or elsewhere, could command the same $7 million per year mark as Carey, if not exceed that amount in this coming offseason.
Here are the top ten starting offensive tackle contracts in the league:
|Top Ten Starting Offensive Tackle Contracts (in millions of dollars)|
Next week, we’ll analyze the top ten starter contracts at guard and center.
Follow J.I. Halsell on Twitter: @SalaryCap101
32 comments, Last at 31 Oct 2009, 5:12pm by Sifter