Cleveland Browns perennial Pro-Bowl left tackle, Joe Thomas signed an extension yesterday. An 8 year deal worth a reported 84 million dollars with over 40 million of that guaranteed. It is by far the largest contract doled out to an offensive lineman and will surely become the benchmark contract for the top A-list left tackles in the NFL. It could also prove to be a thorn in the side of the Miami Dolphins.
Thomas was selected one year before the Miami Dolphins made their own perennial pro-bowl left tackle the first pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. Jake Long agreed to a contract five days before the drafts official start. He was signed to a five year, $57.75 million contract with $30 million guaranteed. Next year, Long will enter the final year of that deal, just as Joe Thomas entered the final of his deal.
The Dolphins will have to open their wallets and in doing so will likely make Jake Long the most expensive offensive lineman in the NFL.
Both players have been voted to the Pro-Bowl in every season. Both players were high first round picks. Both players anchor offenses that are in a rebuilding phase to some degree. In other words, both players are very important cogs in each teams dynamics.
While it’s safe to say that Thomas’ contact will never play out 84 million and even the guaranteed portion of his contract will have strings attached, on paper the contract looks good for both the player and the agent. Even the monster contract signed by Arizona Cardinal WR Larry Fitzgerald over the weekend isn’t truly an 87 million dollar deal. But it is the bench mark.
Next year the Dolphins will have to deal with their own free agents once again and also have to dig deep to make their left tackle the richest man on an NFL offensive line of scrimmage. Luckily for them, they won’t have far to go from their last deal with Long. 57 million over 5 years? What’s another 30 over 8? 30 million guaranteed to a rookie? What’s another 10 to a veteran?
For the sake of argument, if you think for a moment about whether or not the Miami Dolphins would actually spend that kind of cash on someone not playing QB, consider the owner is a Michigan man. Do you really believe that Stephen Ross won’t take care of his own? Joe Thomas has set a benchmark…right now, Jake Long is smiling, because Jake Long is going to break it.