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2020 Detroit Lions free agent profiles: How much is Graham Glasgow worth?

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Yes, the Lions should re-sign Glasgow... but how much is too much?

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Detroit Lions Photo by Jorge Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images

One of the biggest decisions the Detroit Lions must make this offseason appears to have already been made. Starting right guard Graham Glasgow is facing free agency, but every indication is that the Lions have already moved on.

Glasgow was due for an extension last summer, but there wasn’t even the smallest of rumors that the Lions neared a deal with him. Now that the season is over, Glasgow just wants to feel wanted, and the Lions have done very little to show him that they do, in fact, want him.

Should the Lions try to re-sign Glasgow? Most would agree the answer is yes. But that shouldn’t really be the question. Instead, we should ask ourselves how much are we willing to pay Graham Glasgow, as that may be the true sticking point here.

Previously in this series:

Graham Glasgow

Expectations before 2019

After having played center in 2018, it became apparent that 2018 first-round pick Frank Ragnow was moving back to his college position, and Glasgow was being moved back to guard. Many believed this was a more natural position for Glasgow. However, the significant difference was that Glasgow had played 1.5 seasons as the Lions’ left guard. Now, he was slated to replace T.J. Lang on the right side.

It was going to be obvious adjustment for Glasgow, but after three seasons of solid play, the general belief was that Glasgow would be one of the strengths of the offensive line, with Ragnow’s move to center also being a net positive.

Actual role in 2019

2019 Stats: 15 games (15 starts)
PFF Grade: 74.1 (10th of 97 qualifying Gs—minimum of 20% of snaps)

Glasgow had his best season to date by PFF’s standards, yet the Detroit Lions did not treat him that way. He was constantly in a rotation with veteran guard Kenny Wiggins, who regularly took about 20 percent of playing time from him each game. Whereas in his previous two seasons, Glasgow missed just one snap total.

Glasgow was particularly effective in Detroit’s newly-formed running game, but was still at an above-average level as a pass blocker, as well.

What should the Lions do with him?

Contract Status: Unrestricted free agent

The case for re-signing:

If the Lions are truly trying to build an offense that is capable of running the ball and controlling the clock, Glasgow should be considered one of their biggest pieces on offense. He’s clearly talented, he’s a good scheme fit, he’s still just 27 years old, and perhaps most importantly, he’s excelled at literally every interior offensive line position in NFL.

A decent contract could lock him up for the next five years and give the Lions nothing to worry about at at right guard, while giving them an extremely valuable player capable of filling in for injury at any spot.

The case for letting him walk:

The only case here is price, and it’s one we should talk about. Let’s look at the biggest deals handed to guards recently. In 2019 alone, five guards cashed in on deals worth over $10 million a year:

  • Brandon Brooks: Four years, $56.35 million ($14.1 million average)
  • Ali Marpet: Five years, $54.125 million ($10.8 million average)
  • Cody Whitehair: Five years, $51.25 million ($10.25 million average)
  • Rodger Saffold: Four years, $44 million ($11 million average)
  • Kevin Zeitler: Three years, $32 million ($10.66 million average)

Glasgow’s situation is most similar to Marpet and Whitehair, both of whom were coming off of rookie deals. Both the Buccaneers (for Marpet) and Bears (Whitehair) believed it was worth it to keep their second-round draft picks around.

The question for the Lions is simple: Is $11 million per year worth it for Glasgow? The simple answer is, “Of course.” The trickier answer is... well, what about Taylor Decker’s extension, which could be coming this summer, and what about the $11.9 million in cap space you’re already spending on Rick Wagner? Even without a Decker extension, the left tackle will cost $10.35 million against the cap in 2020, so you’re talking about potentially three offensive linemen costing the Lions over $10 million in cap space each (depending on how they would format Glasgow’s deal). As of right now, there is only one team spending $10 million on three different offensive linemen: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

  • Left tackle Donovan Smith: $14.5 million cap hit
  • G Ali Marpet: $11.0 million cap hit
  • C Ryan Jensen: $10 million cap hit

Without a starting guard currently under contract for 2020, the Lions are still 19th in cap space devoted to the offensive line. Add in Glasgow’s potential deal (let’s say $11 million cap hit), and Detroit jumps to sixth. You could argue that’s a good thing, but for a team with so many defensive needs, that’s a lot of scratch to spend on the offensive line.

My thoughts:

I still think it’s worth it. Offensive line has been a problem for so many years in Detroit, and the most frustrating part of it is that former Lions players have gone on to have somewhat successful seasons elsewhere. Larry Warford and Laken Tomlinson haven’t been world-beaters in New Orleans and San Francisco, but they’ve found successful teams that didn’t mind paying them significantly.

If the Lions have to spend $11-12 million a year on Glasgow, then so be it. You’re unlikely to find a player as talented and as versatile as Glasgow either in free agency or the draft. The Lions will need to utilized some cost-cutting strategies, but this isn’t the position nor the player to do it to. If the Lions want to run the ball successfully and build and offensive line that will continue to carry this offense, a Glasgow re-signing is a must.

Poll

How much should the Lions be willing to spend on Graham Glasgow?

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    No more than $6 million/year
    (59 votes)
  • 36%
    $7-9 million/year
    (659 votes)
  • 58%
    $10-12 million/ year
    (1070 votes)
  • 1%
    $13-15 million/year
    (26 votes)
  • 0%
    $16+ million
    (10 votes)
1824 votes total Vote Now