Under the Cap: Top Ten Guards and Centers
by J.I. Halsell
As we continue our analysis of the top ten starter contracts at each position, this week we wrap up the offensive side of the ball by analyzing the interior offensive linemen.
Looking at the top ten list below, the first thing that stood out to me was the fact that the lowly St. Louis Rams have a lot of money tied up in their offensive line. Just as rookie offensive tackle Jason Smith is the second highest paid offensive tackle in the game ($10.8 million per year, with $33 million guaranteed), Rams center Jason Brown is the second highest paid interior offensive lineman, after inking an unrestricted free agent contract this past offseason worth $7.5 million per year with $20 million guaranteed. Also cracking the list of top ten interior offensive linemen is Rams guard Jacob Bell, who came to St. Louis as an unrestricted free agent from Tennessee in 2008. Between Smith, Brown, and Bell, the Rams have $66 million tied up in guaranteed money.
In Dallas, not only are Jerry Jones' offensive linemen behemoths physically, but their wallets are pretty hefty as well, as Jones has invested significant money in his offensive line. Four of the five Cowboy starters (Flozell Adams, Marc Colombo, Leonard Davis, and Andre Gurode) each have contracts that contain at least $10 million in guarantees.
The Dolphins were the only club in last week's analysis of offensive tackles to have a pair of tackles -- Jake Long and Vernon Carey -- in the top ten. Although Dolphin center Jake Grove is not one of the top ten highest paid interior offensive linemen when one factors in guards, he is nonetheless the third highest paid center in the league at $5.9 million per year and with a contract that guarantees him $12 million. The Dolphins, have to deal with this $12 million number on top of the $30 million guarantee of Long and $12 million guarantee of Carey.
During the 2009 offseason, the Eagles made the biggest offensive line splash of free agency with their trade for and subsequent extension of left tackle Jason Peters (the highest paid left tackle in the league at $12.9 million per year); moreover, the Eagles signed lineman Stacy Andrews to a contract that made him one of the highest paid interior offensive linemen in the league at $6.4 million per year. However, the deal can be characterized as a "pay as you go" deal for the Eagles, as the Eagles guaranteed Andrews a significantly lower amount of money -- $7.1 million -- relative to his top ten peers, thereby making a significant amount (82 percent, to be exact) of Andrews' total contract value non-guaranteed.
The next interior offensive lineman to earn a lucrative contract is most likely going to be New England's Logan Mankins. Assuming a CBA extension, Mankins is set to become an unrestricted free agent after the 2009 season and could possibly receive a deal in the $7-8 million per year range. One could make the argument that if a less accomplished Derrick Dockery can get a $7 million per year deal with $17.5 million guaranteed from Buffalo in 2007, then surely Mankins can get at least those numbers in 2010 from a club. It will be interesting to see if Mankins can command at least $4 million per year in guaranteed money, just as Jason Brown and Carolina's left tackle Jordan Gross were able to do in 2009 and the New York Jets' Alan Faneca in 2008.
Here are the top ten starting offensive interior lineman contracts in the league:
|Top Ten Starting Guard and Center Contracts (in millions of dollars)|
Next week, we'll jump over to the defensive side of the ball and analyze the top ten starting defensive end contracts in the league.
Also, if you are interested in learning about the nuances of the salary cap and player contracts, I am facilitating a Salary Cap 101 webinar on Saturday, November 14 at 1pm EST. For more information and to register, visit Salary Cap 101.
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