The Detroit Lions have improved this offseason but still have some challenges. This week we’ll discuss the guard position, present and future.
The Detroit Lions have had a good offseason by many accounts. Many Lions fans are in full Kool-Aid Summer mode, meaning that they won’t hear about criticism of the team until at least October. So, what we’re going to do is look at a challenge that this year’s roster has and discuss the current and future outlook of the guard position.
We at Kick In the Crotch Weekly try to keep up with Detroit Lions social media as often as possible. We saw a thread that called out the left guard spot, in particular, which is not a new occurrence. Since the departure of T.J. Lang, who retired this year, the interior has been shifting to compensate.
Frank Ragnow is now the starting center after moving from left guard, Graham Glasgow is the new right guard after moving from being the center, and Kenny Wiggins has moved to left guard so far this offseason. What the Lions have to deal with is a bit of a puzzle, so we’ll try to explain how this might play out. Here’s the roster link from the Detroit Lions website.
It would be an oversimplification to say that Wiggins move to left guard “solves the problem.” While Wiggins has performed well at times, there are still reasons that he was released from the Los Angeles Chargers after becoming a starter and why he wasn’t drafted coming into the NFL. In his defense, he has started twenty-six games in the last two seasons (via Pro Football Reference) and that shouldn’t be overlooked.
It would be accurate to say that, “Wiggins move fills a spot”, possibly, though. What we need to do is look at how the Lions roster pieces together to address the present and long-term solutions along the offensive front.
A simple look at the contracts of the current starting five shows that Rick Wagner has three more years on his current deal but that the Detroit Lions can opt out after this season and he is the most expensive member of the line at right tackle, with a price tag of $11.9 million per season.
Taylor Decker, the left tackle, has one more year on his deal, a fifth-year option at $10.35 million, although his salary this year is just under $3.5 million dollars. Prior to next year it wouldn’t surprise anyone to see Decker ask for an extension. The current going top rate for tackles is $16.5 million dollars, Trenton Brown of the Raiders is the current highest-paid player according to Spotrac.
Wiggins, the third-highest paid Lions offensive lineman, has a contract that expires after this year and pays him a $3.125 million dollars. Center and guard, Frank Ragnow, is on the second year of his four-year rookie deal which pays him an average of just under three million per year and has a fifth-year option that is undefined in terms of what the cost will be. That locks him up until 2023 if they activate his option year, 2022 if they let his rookie deal expire and allow him to be a free agent.
Lastly, Graham Glasgow, the right guard and former center, is in the last year of his rookie deal, which pays him $2.18 million for 2019. Having been drafted the same year as Decker, Glasgow will be asking for a new deal this calendar year, prior to 2020, since he has no option from being a third-round pick.
Oday Aboushi, the highest paid reserve, expected to push Wiggins for a starting spot, is on a one-year deal worth $1.25 million in salary. Joe Dahl, who was also a 2016 draftee with Decker and Glasgow, is on the last year of his rookie deal, as well. Dahl, trying to earn another deal, is getting $781, 481 in salary this year.
Tyrell Crosby, another second-year player, is currently the main swing tackle at 6-4, 309 pounds and is averaging $686,921 per season over his four-year deal. Some believe that he is being groomed to take over at right tackle when the Detroit Lions part ways with Rick Wagner but with only two starts, Crosby is still a somewhat unknown commodity.