The Baltimore Ravens might be a couple weeks away from watching another starting offensive lineman receive a lucrative payday elsewhere.
Rick Wagner, the Ravens' starting right tackle the past three seasons, could become the NFL's second highest-paid right tackle. He is projected to make $6.9 million per season, according to Spotrac.
This would come one year after Kelechi Osemele signed the most lucrative contract ever for a guard (an average of $11.7 million per season).
The Ravens would prefer to keep Wagner after he produced one of his best seasons since being selected in the fifth round by Baltimore in 2013. Wagner, 27, was rated as the ninth-best right tackle last season, according to Pro Football Focus. He gave up three sacks, four quarterback hits and 25 hurries in 2016.
By the March 9 start of free agency, Baltimore has to determine whether Wagner is worth that type of money or if there is more value in finding another starting right tackle at a lesser cost. The Lions' Riley Reiff, a 2012 first-round pick, is the second-best right tackle available and is projected to make $5.3 million per season. Other starting right tackles in free agency include the Patriots' Sebastian Vollmer (a likely cap cut) and the Panthers' Mike Remmers.
One concern about committing so much money to Wagner is his inconsistency. He had his best NFL season in 2014, and he then followed it up with one of his worst. In 2015, he allowed a career-worst 52 quarterback pressures.
But Wagner should draw interest because of the number of teams looking to solidify the right side of their lines. The Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks, Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers are among the teams looking for starting right tackles. Wagner has a connection in Seattle after protecting Russell Wilson's blind side when they were at Wisconsin.
The highest-paid right tackle is the Eagles' Lane Johnson, but he received $11.252 million per season because Philadelphia will likely move him to left tackle at some point. The true market price for right tackles is an average over $6 million per season, which is what five are currently earning: the Packers' Bryan Bulaga ($6.75 million per season), the Chiefs' Mitchell Schwartz ($6.6 million), the Jaguars' Jermey Parnell ($6.4 million), the Falcons' Ryan Schraeder ($6.3 million) and the Steelers' Marcus Gilbert ($6.1 million).
Losing Wagner would continue an unwanted trend of players leaving Baltimore after being developed there for four seasons. In the last four offseasons, another team has given at least one Ravens free agent more than $12 million in guaranteed money. Linebackers Paul Kruger and Pernell McPhee, defensive lineman Arthur Jones, wide receiver Torrey Smith and Osemele received a total of $91.9 million in guaranteed money.