The Titans have reportedly signed Pro Bowl left tackle Taylor Lewan to a new contract worth $80M over 5 years with $50M guaranteed. #NoBadDays indeed.
.@TaylorLewan77 has a 5-year deal that makes him the highest paid OL in the NFL. Done deal. #NFL #Titans— Paul Kuharsky (@PaulKuharskyNFL) July 27, 2018
Titans giving OT Taylor Lewan a 5-year, $80 million extension that includes $50 million guaranteed, source tells ESPN. Richest OL deal in NFL history.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 27, 2018
The contract locks up one of the Titans best players through the remainder of his prime while making Lewan the highest paid offensive lineman in football.
For some context, here is where Lewan’s deal slots in for a few key metrics as compared to other top tackles in the NFL currently. All numbers courtesy of Spotrac.com.
Highest Average Salary
Taylor Lewan, TEN - $16,000,000
Nate Solder, NYG - $15,500,000
Trent Williams, WAS - $13,600,000
Russell Okung, LAC - $13,250,000
Terron Armstead, NO - $13,000,000
Highest Practical Guarantee
Taylor Lewan, TEN - $50,000,000
Trent Williams, WAS - $41,250,000
Terron Armstead, NO - $38,000,000
Cordy Glenn, CIN - $36,000,000
Lane Johnson, PHI - $35,500,000
Total Contract Value
Tyron Smith, DAL - $97,600,000
Taylor Lewan, TEN - $80,000,000
Trent Williams, WAS - $68,000,000
Terron Armstead, NO - $65,000,000
Nate Solder, NYG - $62,000,000
When Lewan was drafted in 2014, it wasn’t a terribly popular pick. Much of the fan base wanted the team to take Johnny Manziel to be the team’s third “Quarterback of the Future” since Steve McNair left in 2006. However, in this case, Ruston Webster could not have been more right. Not only did drafting Lewan give the Titans a two-time Pro Bowl left tackle, but it also spared them the Johnny Football drama and led to the opportunity to draft Marcus Mariota the next year.
He was thrust in to the starting lineup earlier than planned due to Michael Roos’ season-ending knee injury in 2014. Lewan flashed talent, but also a temper that often got him in trouble with referees. After playing through a shoulder injury for much of 2015 which hampered his play towards the end of the season, Lewan really turned the corner in 2016 and has earned Pro Bowl recognition each of the last two years. His PFF grades over the last four years — 78.1, 82.6, 87.6, and 79.8 — show a consistent high quality performer.
There is reason to believe that Lewan is still on the rise as a player as well. He’s among the two or three most athletic offensive linemen in the NFL and the Titans new zone-blocking offensive scheme should highlight that to a higher degree. Tackles — and offensive linemen in general — are one of the positions that age the best over time. I use this aging curve data quite a bit.
Lewan just turned 27 a few days ago, and the curve for offensive tackles shows most players at this position peaking around age 28 with steep decline typically not hitting until age 31 at the earliest. There are obviously outliers in both directions, but theoretically this contract should be for the prime years of Lewan’s career. That would make it an outstanding investment — especially given the positional value of left tackles — even at the numbers they gave him.
Off the field and in the locker room, Lewan has evolved as a leader as well. The offensive line unit has been known to be one of the tightest groups on the team over the last couple years, bonding over Predators hockey, charity events, Thursday night feasts, and taxidermy. Lewan’s big personality is a part of that and makes him among the most recognizable Titans. He also acts as Marcus Mariota’s biggest champion both on and off the field, coming to his quarterback’s defense in the media and when Richard Sherman takes a cheap shot. Lewan gives the Titans a much needed edge.
The next big contracts for Jon Robinson to deal with are now Marcus Mariota and Kevin Byard. Those two deals are likely to be the talk of next offseason, but we will have plenty of time to talk about those situations at that time. For now, Titans fans should celebrate the fact that #77 will be around protecting their quarterback’s blind side and opening up holes for backs for many years to come.