The Detroit Lions are one of the NFL teams on the rise entering 2023. A key component of that rise is the team’s offensive line. The Lions’ offensive line ranks third in the league according to Pro Football Network. There is good reason for it.
Detroit boasts one of the NFL’s best offensive tackle tandems in Taylor Decker and Penei Sewell. Both tackles finished 2022 with a 74.4 and 80.6 rating respectively according to Pro Football Focus. Frank Ragnow has quietly established himself as one of the league’s top centers. Left guard Jonah Jackson turned in a Pro Bowl season in 2021.
The only major question on the Lions’ offensive line is at right guard. Halapoulivaati Vaitai has been adequate during his time with Detroit, but he missed 2022 with an injury. Graham Glasgow is coming off a down season, but he could push Vaitai for the starting spot.
Keeping the key pieces to this offensive line unit together will be critical to the Lions’ success over the next few seasons. It is likely the team seeks an upgrade at right guard in the 2024 offseason, but the other four starters could conceivably be in it for the long haul.
Ragnow is under contract through 2026, Decker is due for an extension in 2024 and, assuming his fifth-year option is picked up, Sewell is under contract through 2025. Extending Sewell and Decker will be a priority for the 2024 offseason, but the team needs to come to a decision on Jackson.
Jonah Jackson is the next Detroit Lions player due for an extension
While he has never been a star player, Jackson has been a reliable player. In 2022, Jackson graded out with a 66.1 score according to PFF. He committed just four penalties and allowed zero sacks in 858 snaps.
The 26-year-old guard is entering the final year of his rookie contract this season.
What does a good, not great guard get paid in the NFL? The New Orleans Saints are paying Andrus Peat roughly $8.8 million this upcoming season. Laken Tomlinson is set to make around $10.8 million this season with the New York Jets. It is easy to imagine Jackson could command somewhere between $7-10 million on the open market. It is also easy to see the Detroit Lions opt not to pay it.
Guard is viewed as one of the NFL’s more replaceable positions, and the Lions may not want to take the cap hit to retain a solid but not star guard like Jackson. The team has to think about paying Decker and Sewell in a few seasons. Tying money up with Jackson restricts that ability. For the right price, the Detroit Lions will not hesitate to re-sign Jackson, but his proven ability will likely garner him a higher price tag.
For more from the author, Thomas Chavez, check him out on Twitter here: @tlchavez43
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