After the recent article on the NFL’s Most Expensive Offensive Lines, you were probably left wondering what are least expensive lines were. Well, here is your answer.
Surprisingly, the performance quality of offensive lines is not necessarily correlated to how much teams pay for them. Most of the teams on list have lines comparable to the teams who pay the highest price tag for them.
Football is the ultimate team sport. No unit on a team shows off this ideal more than the offensive line. A team can get great results from paying their tackles, guards, and center an equal share of a minimal budget they set for the squad. If the coaching staff can get all five guys to work together, it is worth way more than one guy who is an absolute monster. In fact, every single one of these teams pays their entire line less than Joe Thomas of the Cleveland Browns makes.Of course, some of these teams need to address issues with their line. This may require them to fork out some more money during the offseason. However, getting strong players in the trenches is always a smart investment. It immediately improves the entire offense. The quarterback has more time in the pocket and the running back has more holes to hit. Remember, it is a team sport.
10 St. Louis Rams - O-Line Salary: $10,380,860
If you are looking for a good explanation as to why Sam Bradford had a season-ending injury, look no further than the Rams' offensive line issues. The NFC West is loaded with some of the best defenses the NFL has to offer. To survive in such a tough division, a team must have a strong offensive line. The Rams invested over $10 million into it in 2013. Both tackles are paid under $600,000. This means Bradford does not have any proven assets who can stop blitzing outside linebackers. Unfortunately for St. Louis, the team does not have a lot of cap space to work with this offseason to bring in another big guy.
9 Detroit Lions - O-Line Salary: $10,056,500
The Lions are paying for some overachievers on their offensive line. The team forked out $10,056,500 in 2013. In return for the bottom of the barrel price, Matthew Stafford was sacked 23 times, the second-least amount of times of any quarterback in the league. In fact, he was only put on the ground 68 times this season. The reason the Lions are so sound in this area of the offense is that they spread the money around evenly throughout all five players. As a result, there is no weak link in the chain and the Lions field a quality squad at a rock bottom price.
8 Miami Dolphins - O-Line Salary: $9,417,897
It should not be surprising that the Miami Dolphins make this list. Soon after the NFL kicked off the 2013 season, two major players on the offensive line were no longer members of the team. Had they stayed throughout the season, the Dolphins undoubtedly would not be here. Due to the loss of Martin and Incognito, the Dolphins only paid their starting offensive linemen $9,417,897. The group is led by Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey. Pouncey went undrafted as a rookie and today only makes $2,525,371. Not a bad price for a young stud on the line.
7 New York Giants - O-Line Salary: $9,094,788
For those of you keeping track at home, what you are thinking is true. The New York Jets have the seventh most expensive offensive line. On the flip side, the New York Giants field the seventh least expensive unit. You would think this would have something to do with the regression of Eli Manning, however the quarterback was both sacked and hit an average number of times. The $9,094,788 squad boasts two very stout tackles, Will Beatty and Justin Pugh. Though they play in a division where the other teams are willing to break the bank on the line; the Giants’ squad stacks up pretty well. This just shows that pocket protection was not the reason for all those interceptions Eli tossed.
6 Jacksonville Jaguars - O-Line Salary: $8,398,932
The Jaguars need work everywhere on their roster. If they are going to compete at a high level on offense, they absolutely must address the offensive line this offseason. The Jags spent only $8,398,932 for their five players. Neither tackle is worth over a million dollars; neither is paid that much. It is believed the team is going to draft a new quarterback to replace Blaine Gabbert. Young quarterbacks take time to develop and nothing is more helpful than giving them time to survey the field. After all, no young gun is going to last very long if they are being hit over 100 times a year.
5 Arizona Cardinals - O-Line Salary: $8,150,000
The Arizona Cardinals were on the brink of a playoff berth this season. This offseason they are going to be looking for the final piece of the puzzle to push them to a higher level. One area they will address will be their offensive line. The Cardinals spent a mere $8,150,000 on the unit this past season. In return, their quarterback was clobbered 99 times. The team needs to focus on bringing in a guy on the right side since both their right guard and right tackle do not make as much as Daryn Colledge. Colledge is the highest paid player on the line and made $3,800,000 this past season.
4 Denver Broncos - O-Line Salary: $8,028,334
It should be reiterated that no team has ever won a Super Bowl without a strong offensive line. With that in mind, remember the Seattle Seahawks had the second most expensive line in 2013. The Broncos only pay their guys in the trenches $8,028,334. Despite the low price tag, no unit was better this season. Manning was only hit 54 times all year. The offensive line gave up only 20 sacks this season which is the lowest of any team in the NFL. So, when everybody is talking about all the amazing skill players on the Broncos’ offense before the big game, remember guys like Louis Vasquez, Orlando Franklin, and Zane Beadles are pretty good as well.
3 Chicago Bears - O-Line Salary: $7,910,464
Like the Broncos, the Bears are another team that is getting way more out of their line than they pay for. The front office spent $7,910,464 on a group that only allowed 30 sacks this season. The leaders on the line are veterans Jermon Bushrod and Roberto Garza. Together the two of them earn over $5 million of the Bears' total. However, it was rookie right guard, Kyle Long, who made the Pro Bowl this season. It appears Long has a very bright future ahead of him.
2 Oakland Raiders - O-Line Salary: $5,527,838
There is a huge drop off from number three to number two on this list. The Raiders only spent $5,527,838 on their line, over $2 million less than the Chicago Bears did. Three of their guys make very close to the league minimum. Stefan Wisniewski, the team’s second most expensive offensive linemen, has been a huge disappointment since being taken second overall in the draft a few years ago. However, the Raiders have a ton of money to work with this offseason. The front office could easily bring in a number of big guys to the locker room. Do not be surprised when you see a lot of new guys up front in black and silver.
1 Pittsburgh Steelers - O-Line Salary: $5,169,916
The Pittsburgh Steelers lay claim to the least expensive offensive line of 2013. The Steel Curtain only spent $5,169,916 on their starters. Not a single one of them is paid over $2 million. Despite this, the line still played decently. They gave up 43 sacks and Roethlisberger was only hit 66 times. Compare this to how some of the most expensive lines produced and it stacks up well. The Browns, Seahawks, and Redskins were all in the top ten most expensive squads and their quarterbacks were all hit at least 90 times this season. It would be nice to see the team bring in a stronger blindside protector for Big Ben. There is no reason to believe they will not address the line, specifically the tackles, during the draft. By doing so, the Steelers would definitely be able to bring an average unit to a whole new level.