I’m not quite sure what it is—the best guess would be the reputation of their general manager, Ozzie Newsome, as a talent evaluator—it truly seems year after year that teams line up in free agency to pay a premium price for the Baltimore Ravens’ players that hit the open market.
The most recent focus has been on their offensive linemen, and for three years running now, teams have seen fit to pay top dollar, making former Ravens the top or nor-top at their positions in terms of compensation.
In 2016, the Oakland Raiders signed guard Kelechi Osemele to a five-year contract worth nearly $60 million. Working out to $11.7 million annually, that was the highest contract ever paid based on yearly averages in the history of the game.
Last year, it was the Detroit Lions doling out the money for right tackle Rick Wagner, signing him to a five-year deal worth $47.5 million, paying him an average of $9.5 million. That was the second-highest among right tackles at the time and remains so, though it should be noted that the highest on that list, Lane Johnson, did spend time the year before playing at left tackle, and he was viewed as an option if Jason Peters were to be released. It is still their intention to move him to the left side when Peters, 36, and coming off a torn ACL, retires or is cut.
Joining the list of highest- or near-highest-paid players at their positions, and most absurd of the three, is Ryan Jensen, a four-year veteran who is coming off of just his first season in the league as a full-time starter.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers just gave him the largest contract for a center in NFL history, though it only slightly edges out the one given to Brandon Linder of the Jacksonville Jaguars a year ago. Jensen signed a four-year contract worth $42 million, translating to an average of $10.5 million per season. Linder signed a five-year contract.
In case you were wondering where the Pittsburgh Steelers’ players rank in comparison, Maurkice Pouncey is the eighth-highest-paid center in yearly average, though all those above him were signed later. He was the highest-paid upon signing at over $8.8 million per year.
David DeCastro signed a five-year, $50 million extension two years ago, which, at $10 million per season, ranks tied for sixth among guards, with two players now making $2 million or more per season on top of what he earns.
As for Marcus Gilbert, he’s not even in the top 10 among right tackles. In fact, Chris Hubbard makes a good amount more per year on his new contract, though without much in guarantees.
The overpaying for former Ravens hasn’t been limited to linemen, of course, and names like Kyle Juszczyk, Pernell McPhee, and Torrey Smith come to mind fairly quickly. It is in part thanks to this that the team has done so well in the compensatory pick formula.