Will the Detroit Lions make Taylor Decker the NFL’s highest paid left tackle?

Taylor Decker, Detroit Lions (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Taylor Decker, Detroit Lions (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Lions have invested heavily in their offensive line in recent years. And if they want to keep this group together, they’ll have to pay for it.

The Detroit Lions‘ investment in their offensive line is well documented. Since becoming the team’s general manager in 2016, Bob Quinn has sunk two first-round selections and signed expensive free agents to secure the O-line. Now, the Lions will have to pay a pretty penny to keep them all together.

The first domino to drop this offseason is starting guard Graham Glasgow. A third-round selection during Quinn’s first draft in Detroit, the versatile interior lineman is expected to test free agency next month. And because there’s a severe lack of quality offensive lineman across the league, Glasgow is all but guaranteed to sign elsewhere unless the Lions swoop in with a big offer.

The next domino is starting left tackle Taylor Decker. The Lions’ first-round selection in 2016, Decker was Quinn’s first draft pick for the Lions. The team picked up his fifth-year option last April, costing Detroit a whopping $10.3 million to keep him through 2020.

The 26-year old is coming off a solid season in Detroit playing in 15 games. Decker did allow seven sacks and recorded 10 penalties, that according to Pro Football Focus.

Despite Decker not yet fulfilling the potential he flashed as a rookie, one NFL insider believes that might not stop the Lions from making him the highest-paid left tackle in football. Here’s how ESPN’s Bill Barnwell sees the Lions’ fifth-year lineman as he projects the possible deal Decker could land this offseason if Detroit decides to sign him to a contract extension.

"“The guy who comes to mind for me when I see Decker is Jake Matthews, who hadn’t made it to a Pro Bowl when he signed a five-year, $75 million deal with the Falcons before starting his fifth year in 2018. Adjusting that deal for inflation would get Decker up to five years and $85 million, which would make Decker the highest-paid left tackle in football.”"

Barnwell goes on to mention that the Lions would be smart to get Decker’s contract extension done quickly as upcoming deals for the Houston Texans’ Laremy Tunsil and the Baltimore Ravens’ Ronnie Stanley are expected to be even larger.

Decker is far from the best left tackle in the NFL. Yet, contracts often have less to do with actual performance and more to do with timing, need, and current market value. If the Lions wish to sign Decker to a contract extension this offseason, they’ll likely have to pay him more than his play has shown he’s worth hoping he’ll tap into his Pro Bowl potential down-the-line.

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With a 12-year veteran under center in Matthew Stafford, a franchise quarterback who’s coming off a back injury that forced him to miss eight games in 2019, the Detroit Lions may have little choice but to continue to invest heavily in their offensive line. Even if that means making Taylor Decker the highest-paid player at his position.