By signing the best right tackle on the free agency market, the Lions have taken a big step towards shoring up what was (and has been) arguably their biggest problem area.
Although his contract is monstrous, the Lions decided to back the proverbial dump truck full of money into the driveway of tackle Ricky Wagner, to the tune of $47.5 million over the course of the next five years.
With the departure of Riley Reiff, the team was forced into making a decision — develop another right tackle into a bonafide NFL starter, or hit the free agent market. Obviously, the latter was decided upon as the right course of action.
Selected in the fifth round (168th overall) of the 2013 draft out of the University of Wisconsin, Wagner has been a fixture at right tackle for the Baltimore Ravens for the last three seasons. Since being drafted, he has appeared in 62 games (47 starts, all but two of which have been in the last three seasons).
With Taylor Decker at left tackle, Wagner on the right side, and the acquisition of veteran guard T.J. Lang, the strategy of general manager Bob Quinn is quite clear: build a f***ing wall. They appear to be doing so in a more economic manner as well, as the signing of Wagner came at a price tag that was $10 million cheaper than the contract that Reiff got from the Minnesota Vikings. Wagner is also regarded as a better pass protector than Reiff at this stage of his career, exclusively from the right side.
“That’s just the position I’ve been playing the past four years. It’s definitely where I’m more comfortable at right now,” he told Mlive.com.
The move to bring Wagner in received a grade of a “B” from SI.com, citing the fact that he has only allowed a total of 4.5 sacks in the last three seasons, cementing the fact that he is an upgrade over Reiff, who allowed 11.5 over that same span.
With all the signings that the team has made over the last few days to improve their offensive line, it appears that the Lions are taking the task of keeping franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford safe very seriously.