OL Top 10 We continue our look at the biggest contracts in football with the offensive line. Yes, we’re taking the offensive line together rather than separating the tackles, guards and centers. Lineman consider themselves just part of a greater unit, and so will we when it comes to their contracts. Tyron Smith (LT), Dallas Cowboys: $97,600,000 Smith’s deal is enormous, but there’s no doubt he’s a very good player. He signed a huge 8 year deal in in July 2014. The length is in part due to the small amount of cap space Dallas had at the time but he also fully deserves it. He’s still only 25 and is one of the very best pass blockers in the league. Joe Thomas (LT), Cleveland Browns: $80,500,000 In my opinion Joe Thomas is the best offensive lineman in the NFL. He’s effortless in pass protection, sliding back and handling the fastest and strongest rushers seemingly with ease. It says a lot about his value to the Browns that this deal, signed in 2011, still holds up as one of the gagbiggest in the NFL, regardless of position. Trent Williams (LT), Washington Redskins: $68,000,000 Williams’ name doesn’t often come up when discussing the best offensive linemen in the game, but he’s very deserving of inclusion on this list. A very good pass blocker and excellent piece of the Washington zone blocking run scheme. His 5 year deal, signed in August 2015, is a good baseline for the extensions that will be handed out this summer. D’Brickashaw Ferguson (LT), New York Jets: $60,000,000 Ferguson signed his extension in 2010 and will soon be up for another one. At this point of his career he’s probably a little overpaid but has been a very solid player for the Jets since they drafted him 4th overall in 2006. Lane Johnson (RT), Philadelphia Eagles: $56,260,000 Lane Johnson is the first surprising name on this list to me. His 5 year extension was signed just over a month ago, so the numbers are on par with the increasing salary cap and teams need two good tackles these days. However Johnson is yet to prove himself a special talent and his still finding his feet to a certain extent. Nick Mangold (C) , New York Jets: $54,075,000 Ah, our first non-tackle. Mangold’s 7 year deal was signed in 2010 has been good value for the Jets as they’ve had great production from him. Mangold has been one of the most consistent run blocking center’s in the NFL, particularly adept at handling nose tackles by himself, freeing up the guards to go and take on other defenders. Duane Brown (LT), Houston Texans: $53,400,000 Brown is another old stalwart of a left tackle at the back end of his last big contract. A solid left tackle, Brown was an All-Pro in 2012 and is a 5 time Pro Bowler, an impressive feat given his relative anonymity. Ryan Clady (LT), Denver Broncos: $52,500,000 All the money in the world won’t make Clady feel any better about missing the Broncos Super Bowl run this year. In fact since signing his deal in July 2013 Clady has missed both the Broncos trips to the Super Bowl through injury, first with a Lisfranc injury and then he tore his ACL in the 2015 pre-season. In total he has missed 36 games in the last 3 years (including playoffs), making him a very costly viewer to all the Broncos success in recent years. Ryan Kalil (C) , Carolina Panthers: $49,116,000 Another non-tackle! Kalil has been amazing for Panthers since winning the starting job in his second season with the team. His excellence shone through the dark days of Jake Delhomme’s late career and Jimmy Clausen’s awfulness. Branden Albert (LT), Miami Dolphins: $47,000,000 Branden Albert is actually the first free agent contract on this list. Teams just don’t let top offensive linemen walk unless they absolutely have to. In 2014 the Chiefs had to let Albert go and the Dolphins were the beneficiaries of a good left tackle. Unfortunately for them Albert is yet to complete a season for them, as good as he can be he hasn’t fulfilled the expectations of the Miami front office yet. A potential lesson for any General Manager considering splashing the cash when Free Agency opens up.
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