If things all go according to plan later today, Ravens right tackle Rick Wagner is expected to reset the market at the right tackle position, as the Lions are reportedly planning on signing him to a deal that will pay him around $9 million per season. That is more than $2 million per year more than the next-highest right tackle.
It kind of makes you wonder what Pittsburgh Steelers right tackle Marcus Gilbert is thinking right about now. While I have no doubt that he was content with the contract that he signed during training camp in 2014, it looks like a hill of beans in comparison to this market reset.
Entering the final year of his rookie contract, Gilbert agreed to a five-year, $30 million contract extension that has him tied to Pittsburgh through the 2019 season. In terms of new money, that worked out to an even $6 million per season in total value.
Because of a previous restructure in 2015, Gilbert’s 2017 cap his is going to come in at roughly $7.3 million, but his base salary is just $4 million, and he should also pick up a workout bonus worth $50,000. The additional roughly $3.3 million comes in prorated salary in the form of his original signing bonus and the accelerated money from his previous restructure that the team used to lower his 2015 cap hit.
Even with the prorated money, Gilbert’s cap hit pales in comparison to what Wagner will see over the life of his contract, and I am certainly not going to be the one to make the argument that Wagner is a better right tackle than his Gilbert. Not that that necessarily means he is not entitled to a bigger contract.
Unlike Gilbert, Wagner actually hit free agency. Gilbert chose the security of a contract extension with his original team rather than playing out his rookie contract and testing the free agency waters. Truth be told, however, Wagner through his rookie contract was the better player in comparison to Gilbert through his.
The Steelers right tackle has really bloomed since signing that contract, and as a result the team is getting a pretty favorable rate for what is by rights Pro Bowl-worthy play at a position that, it should be acknowledged, has been undervalued generally in comparison to the left tackle position.
This has become increasingly the case since the quality of pass rusher that lines up against right tackle has improved over the course of the past several years. Several of the game’s top edge players now are primarily lining up on the left side of their defense, and thus to the right side of the offense.