Can the Lions offensive line lead the resurgence in 2021?

Detroit Lions Offensive Line (Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports)
Detroit Lions Offensive Line (Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Frank Ragnow, Detroit Lions
Frank Ragnow, Detroit Lions (Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports) /

Detroit Lions offensive line rank vs cost

Pro Football Focus (PFF) recently ranked all offensive lines in the NFL and rated the Detroit Lions front as 10th out of the 32 teams. That’s as good as the Lions have ranked in recent history and our use of draft picks, noted prior, is the reason that we can say that PFF’s rank seems fitting.

The cost of that offensive line is a bit skewed for the better in 2021. While the Detroit Lions rank 16th in cap spending this year on the offensive line, right at the average mark, that’s really hiding large chunks of salary but the comparison between rank of talent and rank of cost underscores the value the Lions are getting this season.

Left tackle, Taylor Decker, restructured some of his deal, creating cap room for this year; $9.8 million of Taylor Decker’s 2021 salary has been moved to be treated as bonus, which is then guaranteed money, spread over four years.

Not only that, center Frank Ragnow’s deal is set to pay him just over $4 million dollars this year, $7.5 million next year, but averages $13.5 million after, through 2026. Ragnow is considered to be Top-3 at center, nothing shocking to avid Detroit Lions fans.

Rookie right tackle, Penei Sewell, the highest-drafted member of the line, drafted this past April at No.7 overall, will make between $4.38 million and $7.66 million by year four of his contract. Left guard, Jonah Jackson’s services, as a third-round selection from 2020, have been secured at $1.09 million to round out the spending.

So, if we re-calculate the cost of the line we’ve drafted it should be much closer to $46 million just for the starters. That would put us around sixth in cap spending on offensive lines, which isn’t including the depth like swing tackle and former fifth-round pick, Tyrell Crosby, which would put us around $52 million for the unit.

The roughly $52 million dollar value for $32 million in spending this year is necessary to overcome some other cap deficits that general manager Brad Holmes is having to deal with, especially in the short-term. Quarterback Jared Goff’s contract averages $33.5 million per year through 2024 and he is set to cost us over $30.6 million after his restructured 2021 is over; that ranks 5th in average salary of all NFL quarterbacks and 8th in total money.