The high cost of top-tier offensive linemen is about to go up if Carl Nicks gets his way. Nicks, the New Orleans Saints free agent guard, said Tuesday on SiriusXM that he expects to receive far more than the fat contract Jahri Evans got two years ago.
Just how much money does he want?
The Saints signed guard Jahri Evans to a seven-year, $56 million deal in 2010. Nicks said on satellite radio today that he expects a bigger contract.
Thank God that wages in the NFL are staying far, far ahead of flat inflation rates.
At that price, you can pretty much write the St. Louis Rams out of the mix. Not even the savings realized from dumping or restructuring the last round of overpaid Rams offensive linemen would net enough money for a move like that. Of course, you can bet that some team will sign Nicks at that rate. The Seahawks and Cardinals both have more than $30 million in cap room, so Nicks' landing in the NFC West is a distinct possibility.
There's a lesson about the positional value of offensive linemen in Nicks' demand. Brought into the NFL as a fifth-round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, Nicks got his big break as a replacement for Jamar Nesbit that year.
First of all, Nicks wants left tackle money. Though a very good guard, no guard is worth left tackle money. Guards are a more replaceable commodity, players that smart teams cull from the middle rounds of the draft, or later. Nicks himself is a perfect example of why those players are essential.
As you can see from the chart of offensive linemen drafted during Fisher's time as a head coach, his teams have never drafted an offensive lineman in the first round of the draft. That does not mean they would pass on someone like Matt Kalil, but it shows that Fisher's teams understand the value of finding and developing linemen with their least expensive draft picks.
Fisher's teams did not spend big on free agent offensive linemen either, at least not that big. They signed center Kevin Mawae in 2006 to a $13 million deal, and guard Jake Scott was brought in to replace Jacob Bell for $19 million over four seasons, far less than the $36 million the Rams gave Bell that same year.
Nicks will probably get that kind of money. He can then live up to his promise delivered when the Saints won the Super Bowl to go to "mother fucking Disneyland." He might be able to buy a sizable chunk of the Magic Kingdom with that kind of cash.