Fans Would Rather Have Reiff, But Wagner May Be An Option.
It would certainly be less than ideal if Riley Reiff got left tackle money from a team and departed in free agency, and however unlikely that may be, it’s a possibility that needs to be considered and planned for. Ricky Wagner might very well be the best plan B the Lions can hope for this off-season. The fifth round pick from 2013 had a long road to travel taking over for Michael Oher his rookie season, however he slowly came into his own and is now considered one of the best tackle prospects on the market. While he’s been hot and cold in recent seasons he’s coming off a strong 2016 campaign and will command top dollar at the right tackle position.
What Does Ricky Wagner Bring To The Table?
Wagner came into the league as a run blocking heavy, one dimensional tackle, but has quietly developed into one of the upper tier pass blocking right tackles. He’s got a ton of power, refined technique, and the wide base to take on both power and speed rushers. He could plug right in on the right side and be a long term option that locks up the position, bringing in a lot of the same abilities that Reiff displayed this last season. The key will be if he can remain consistently good over not just one 16 game season but be able to string multiple really good seasons together.
Why Could Ricky Wagner Be Available?
There have been numerous rumors that the Ravens are prepared to move on from Wagner after he turned down their initial offer to re-sign with them. They only currently have about 14 million dollars in cap room and another high profile free agent Brandon Williams hitting the market at the same time. It seems quite clear that they are going to prioritize Williams at this point and barring any changes in their cap situation that puts Wagner out on the open market. While there’s a really poor class this year at the position that will push his value up, he’ll still be worth a long hard look.
The Bottom Line On Ricky Wagner
Wagner won’t be anywhere near cheap, probably netting a contract in the $7 million range, but if he plays consistent football he will be completely worth that figure. He offers the potential of a slight upgrade at the position and potentially an investment that Detroit cannot afford to avoid if Reiff leaves Detroit. At the end of the day Matthew Stafford is the single most valuable commodity on the team and near any price to ensure he’s protected and able to target open receivers is worth it. There’s a big drop off after the top few tackles available on the market and ensuring that one is locked up before having to rely on a brutal draft class would be key in that situation.