Ronnie Stanley is set to become a much richer man in the next few months.
But how much richer?
Stanley, 26, has one year left on his rookie deal that will pay him a base salary of $12.86 million with a cap hit of the same figure. That deal will eat up 6.5 percent of the Ravens’ 2020 salary cap, an entirely reasonable and figure for one of the game's best offensive linemen.
A look at other highly paid tackles, specifically Laremy Tunsil, in the sport presents some interesting offers as to how much Stanley could be in line to make after the 2020 season.
Tunsil, the third tackle taken in the 2016 NFL Draft, received a three-year contract from the Texans earlier in the year worth a total value of $66 million. He’ll make an average of $22 million per season with $50 million total guaranteed and $40 million guaranteed. No other tackle in the game will make more than $20 million per season.
Tunsil’s deal will take up $19.4 million, $21.1 million and $21.75 million of the team’s cap space in the next three seasons, according to overthecap.com. With the NFL’s future salary cap projections in flux due to the coronavirus pandemic, it’s impossible to know what the maximum salary cap of that season will be, as well as Tunsil’s cap percentage.
What is important to note, however, is that Tunsil only received as much as he did because he had more leverage than nearly every player in the NFL while negotiating his contract. The Texans paid two first-round picks and a second-round pick to acquire both he and wide receiver Kenny Stills, meaning not handing Tunsil a blank check would’ve been organizational malpractice.
While Stanley doesn’t have the leverage Tunsil had, Stanley’s status of being one of the highest paid players in the sport isn’t up for debate.
He was an All-Pro and a Pro Bowler in 2019, where he protected Lamar Jackson’s blindside and helped lead the Ravens to the league’s best offense, led by the rushing offense that gained more yards than any team in league history.
As a player, Stanley is certainly worth paying more than perhaps any non-quarterback in the league. Edge rusher Khalil Mack makes $23.5 million in Chicago, defensive lineman Aaron Donald makes $22.5 million in Los Angeles and wide receiver Julio Jones makes $22 million in Atlanta, all of the highest paid players at their positions.
And while Stanley said money isn’t the most important thing to him, that doesn’t take away from the fact that he wants to get paid what he’s due.
“I definitely want to get paid my value and what I’m worth,” Stanley said at the end of May on a conference call with reporters.
If Tunsil were to be franchise tagged at the end of the 2020 season, he’d likely make around 15 to 16 million dollars. The franchise tag for offensive linemen in 2020 was $14.78 million, which accounting for an increase, would mean the Ravens would have Stanley through the 2021 season at an affordable rate.
The problem there, however, is that tight end Mark Andrews, right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. and cornerback Marlon Humphrey are due for contract extensions after the 2021 season. All three are expected to receive contracts in-line with the top of the market. Dependent upon the salary cap figure that season, there might not be an option to keep all three of those players, plus Stanley.
That doesn’t even take into account the quarterback deal on the horizon for Jackson, who will likely be the highest or second-highest paid player in the league with Patrick Mahomes.
Simply, the Ravens might not be able to pay everyone on the roster that needs a new contract, and they could decide to move on from Stanley if they feel that way.
If the Ravens decide to pay Stanley, they’ll be getting one of, if not the best, left tackles in the sport for the majority of his career. But they’ll also be saddled with figuring out how to pay everyone else on the roster, too.
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