Taylor Moton

Panthers, Moton Agree to Four-Year, $72-Million Deal

It looks like most of this year's franchised players are going to make it to today's deadline without agreeing to new long-term contracts, and they'll have to play out the year on the franchise tag. One player did get in under the wire though: right tackle Taylor Moton of the Panthers. The deal is four years, $72 million with $43 million guaranteed. Moton is a road-grader who always comes out strong in ESPN's Run Block Win Rate. He was the only Panthers lineman last year to rank in the top 20 at his position in snaps per blown block.

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17 comments, Last at 21 Jul 2021, 3:20pm

1 Good for Morton. A related…

Good for Morton. A related thought occurred to me. Is it worth shelling out for very good right tackles, or really offensive line in general? I guess if talent is hard to acquire, it's better to keep them in house.

I'm more inclined to think you should keep the war chest open for receivers, QB, and every competent DB you can get your hands on plus pass rusher. Everything else is relatively speaking more manageable letting go.

2 OL & the Super Bowl

I think this past SB showed us how the OL needs to be at least adequate. If your QB doesn't have enough time to throw, great WR's don't have a chance to make a difference. Personally, I think a team needs one Pro-Bowl level OL (preferably tackle), two good ones (good enough that they would start for at least 1/2 the teams in the league), and two average ones, + a backup that isn't horrible. Any other depth is gravy. One or two should always be developmental guys.

I think that you should always try to retain the talent that you have versus acquiring a talent that looks like an upgrade. If you KNOW that it's an upgrade, that's a different story. A GM should always be trying to improve his team (while being mindful of the cap). However, improvement can come from within--that's basic player development! I am always leery of team B acquiring a FA from team A that team A didn't at least try to retain. I mean, there are times that b/c of the salary cap, teams let a player go, or they have a young player from a recent draft that is ready to step in for an older veteran whose play has dropped off. Sometimes there is a player that just wants to leave, and no realistic amount of money will keep him. But if a team should always be trying to retain talented players, even if they are only backups.

3 I personally think your…

I personally think your expectations for the offensive line for most teams is too generous. Between injuries most teams are probably starting at least two players you don't really trust. 

It's also curious to know how much to draw from that super bowl. The bucks thoroughly crushed the Chiefs but would that happen if they played 9 more games? Even with all their offensive line woes the Chiefs thoroughly destroyed the bills and were on their way to destroying the Browns when Mahomes got hurt.

And while I'm not saying the bucs couldn't do a good job against the Chiefs, the thorough smashing is probably on the more extreme side of events.

 

4 It's not that I think…

It's not that I think offensive line isn't important, but committing major resources to it is to me a suboptimal play. And the reasons why surround the fact that a lot of it depends on the quality of the entire unit rather than just one or two players. And while that's true for the defensive backfield as well, in theory an offense can compensate for bad offensive line play whereas a defense is completely screwed it seems.

12 And the reasons why surround…

And the reasons why surround the fact that a lot of it depends on the quality of the entire unit rather than just one or two players.

I don't think that's actually true. I think in general you can split the OL into "LT + blocking OL," and it's always seemed that the "blocking OL" part needs at least 1 top end guy for viability, and if you've got a second you can usually cover for the LT as well.

I mean, most really good OLs I've seen have at least *one* position that's completely fungible. For the Eagles it's left guard (and jeez, for the past few years, left tackle), for the Cowboys it's center and left guard, etc. You pay 2-3 guys and you can manage the others fine.

And while that's true for the defensive backfield as well, in theory an offense can compensate for bad offensive line play whereas a defense is completely screwed it seems.

Huh? I've seen teams paste together defensive backfields from total free agents in a matter of weeks, whereas you lose a bunch of starters on the OL and you're just hosed.

And this actually answers your original question - does it make sense to invest in offensive linemen? Yes: offensive linemen have the lowest injury rate of any position outside of QB. By a wide margin (see Zach Binney's article from here, actually). Which is why it makes sense to invest in them - they're the position that you're most likely to be able to get value out of. Whereas defensive backs, for instance, have the second-highest injury rate (behind RB). So again, this is why I say "huh" - teams have to reshuffle DBs constantly. So you can't rely on "quality of the entire unit" because you'll almost never have your entire unit.

5 It did show that.

But that's after it was decimated. LDT and Niang opt outs they survived. Then the Osemele injury they survived. Then the Schwartz injury they survived. Then Fisher got hurt and it unraveled unfortunately without enough time to correct. Usually doesn't get that bad. 

On the flip side you say one should be PB level, yet no one on the TB OL has to make one, in their career, let alone last year. Had this convo the other day, Brady (a great QB) masks a lot problems, especially on the OL. Go back a year for Brady and he has the oh so great Marcus Cannon (I've been told he was a huge reason for them regressing after he opted out, right? That's why they dumped him this offseason, right?) but at receiver...nothing. And boy did it hurt and we had finally thought he fell off. Then give him Evans, Godwin and Miller. Don't forget to get his pal Gronk. Oh and let's draft Tyler Johnson. And what the heck, let's get his buddy AB too. Huh...maybe that's why he picked TB despite being a below .500 team prior...hmmm. 

With that being said an OL over CEH would've been for sure better for the Chefs. The dangers of players opinions and why they shouldn't be relied upon. 

7 "Pro-Bowl level"

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

1. Even if the Pro Bowl was limited to one OL per team, and each Pro Bowl roster had 10, that means only 20 teams would get a PB rep in a given year--so some teams would get left out. In practice, we know that it's harder for bad teams to have players selected, esp. at OL where there are no counting stats. [Joe Thomas was an exception.]

2. I stated "Pro-Bowl level"--even as a Saints' fan, I read lots of praise for RT Wirfs. Something tells me he will get some selections in the future, and according to folks who know, his play this year was at that level. I agree that a great QB can mask OL problems--I'm a Saints' fan, and have followed Manning since we both were teens. But great QBs are harder to come by.

My overall point was that if you have good talent already in the building, do your best to keep that talent. I don't know Moton well enough to judge if CAR overpaid, underpaid, or if the contract is about right. My guess is a slight overpay, although it is just a guess. They had put the tag on him, so they obviously feel he is worth keeping. Time will tell.

8 Ok

In reply to by Joseph

1. Just wanted to keep it objective since there were no PB OL in the SB this year (Fisher hurt).

2. Wirfs will definitely get some. But it's interesting Brady was ok joining with that hole (that they had to trade up to get him). Relying on rookies, especially OL is risky since they generally take time to develop (unlike say RB). But it worked out. 

I guess my point was just because theyre good in the building now doesn't mean they will continue to be, especially when it comes time to give em a raise. Sometimes it's better to collect the comp pick and avoid playing overpaying them. It's small things like that that the Ravens are great at.

Moton specifically, from what I've gathered (I'll admit I haven't seen every snap, but most haven't either), I would've just let the tag play out. In 2/3 years he's probably a cut candidate due to a large cap hit and they're taking dead just to not have him on the team. Maybe I'll be wrong and he makes it though the next 5 years with Carolina but I think they couldve waited since the extension was clearly not to open up space this year on the cap. Was he really going to get 20m a year next offseason? 

10 Overpay vs comp pick

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

Oh, I agree that it's prob. an overpay, but not horribly so. Re: the comp pick instead, they had already made the decision to tag him, so while that was an option several months ago, it wasn't now. I agree that playing out the tag this year and seeing what happens may have been better for CAR. Depending on how the contract is structured, we'll see whether the dead money is prohibitive if his play suffers down the road. He is only 26, so he has a realistic chance to play out this deal as it is. I would be a lot more worried if he were a couple of years older. [Hold on, what am I saying? They should have traded him to NYJ for Darnold, straight up! Get rid of your talented OL! McCaffrey doesn't need anyone to block for him! Oops--end of Saints' homer opinion.]

11 Guess I'm looking at it more from positional value

And not just next man paid. Like something Bill B has understood. Let a young Trey Flowers walk despite being a high profile, long thought value position player (that's helped you win two SBs) and re-upping the McCourty bros for cheap(er). Or the Ravens letting Zadarius Smith go, he becomes better than ever and Baltimore doesn't skip a beat. Now that's DL but same concept applies. Packers let Bulaga go and didn't skip a beat either (and were better offensively and overall to split hairs). Found a value player in Rick Wagner to be his pseudo replacement. 

Hopefully they aren't that concerned about their RB...wait they paid him. I guess I shouldn't be too surprised that a team that would give out the biggest RB contract of all time, would not want to gain an edge elsewhere. No one will blame them if things go south. Doubt it they structured it like other Raiders OT, Kolton Miller though.

15 Or the Ravens letting…

Or the Ravens letting Zadarius Smith go, he becomes better than ever and Baltimore doesn't skip a beat. Now that's DL but same concept applies.

It's not just an issue of letting a guy go because he wants too much and finding some random guy. Baltimore actively drafts edge rushers frequently so it's not surprising that they let guys go, because they frequently have Some Guy waiting in the wings they think is equal or better. 

But they don't, for instance, draft defensive backs high often, so they end up spending to acquire them. It's just whatever a franchise prefers to do.

13 Sometimes it's better to…

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

Sometimes it's better to collect the comp pick and avoid playing overpaying them. It's small things like that that the Ravens are great at.

It's all just where you put your priorities. Ravens tend to have high-dollar defensive backs rather than OL (outside of LT, obviously). I mean, Earl Thomas. They've still got a $10M cap charge from him and no one else in the league's picked him up. And DBs are intrinsically riskier than OL since they get injured almost 50% more often.

Was he really going to get 20m a year next offseason? 

Yeah, roughly. Not 20M exactly, but $18M/yr? I can't imagine Trent Brown's not going to exceed that. This is actually a 4-year 72M extension - he already had $13M this year from the franchise tag.

So assuming 6% growth this is roughly equivalent to paying him $14M this year, which is basically paying him around top-5 RT salary.

 

9 I will say Tampa Bay did…

I will say Tampa Bay did come in with a strong o line so maybe I am being too dismissive. Pff ranked them 5th last year and 7th in 2019. More evidence that Jameis might be a really awful QB.

16 Tampa's a problem for stuff…

Tampa's a problem for stuff like Pro Bowl counts on the OL since they're ridiculously young, and there's usually a lag between Pro Bowl performance and recognition. Their entire line other than Jensen's totally home-grown.

So it's not exactly like Tampa's not dumping resources there: their current starting OL are a first, 2 seconds, and a third, all from the prior 5 years. It's just draft resources rather than financial (although the "financial" part is slowly coming, obviously). Jason Licht's had fantastic success drafting OL.

Now, Kansas City, they're the weird ones, especially given Reid's history. It's kinda nuts how mediocre their OL is.

6 Based on the price

and player, I would've just played him on the tag since the contract is tacked onto the tag. IDK if the $18m AAV price tag would've gone up that much had they waited a year. 

Give me Kenny Golladays 4y/$72m with $3m less guaranteed at the same age.

14  IDK if the $18m AAV price…

 IDK if the $18m AAV price tag would've gone up that much had they waited a year. 

They got significant salary relief this year as well, which has a ton of value. Freed up $9M in space this year. Granted I don't really know what they'd do with it - they don't really have anyone significant becoming a free agent next year that they can try to snag early. Maybe Darnold? Seems unlikely, but if he's not trash, by midseason it might make sense to extend him a bit. Although I don't think that's likely.

But given that the contract's structured to *obviously* maximize space this year, they've either got something planned or they were more crunched than public estimates thought.