In a span of an hour, Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan and Falcons left tackle Jake Matthews were given major extensions by their respective teams. Lewan signed for 5 years/$80 million, while Matthews signed for 5 years/$75 million. Lewan’s extension is the critical one, as he is now the highest paid left tackle of all time. Now, did these two tackles deserve the contracts they were given? Let’s take a closer look.
Lewan, 27, has made the Pro Bowl in each of the last two seasons. However, he only earned a 79.8 grade from Pro Football Focus, grading him as the #18 tackle in the NFL. He also gave up 4 sacks, which is much more than Nate Solder (2), Russell Okung (2), and Andrew Whitworth (0). That’s strange, considering Titans QB Marcus Mariota excells at using his athleticism to break free from a lot of potential stats. So in reality, those four sacks allowed would likely be 6-8 with a pocket quarterback. The Titans needed to extend Lewan, but he definitely shouldn’t be the highst paid left tackle.
Matthews, 26, has never made the Pro Bowl, but has missed just one tackle in his four year career. He graded out as the #14 tackle with a 80.8 grade. His four sacks allowed is the same as Lewan, but Matthews has a more difficult job in protecting Matt Ryan, a pocket QB. That means he has to hold his blocks longer than Lewan has to. He is now the 3rd highest paid tackle in the league, which is a bit of an overpay. However, I’m more forgiving with this contract because Atlanta was able to not make the highest paid tackle, and he’s the better option over Lewan. It’s an overpay, but it’s a smarter extension than Lewan’s for sure.
Taylor Lewan should not be the highest paid tackle in the league. His production is not at the level of the top tier tackles in the league, so the fact he makes more than all of them is outrageous. Matthews doesn’t deserve the contract he was given, but he’s slightly more productive than Lewan, and has a much harder job in protecting Matt Ryan. If you’re going to give Matt Ryan $30 million a year, you need to make sure he’s protected, so Atlanta had more reason to give Matthews an extension than the Titans with Lewan