Market sweep: Left tackles gone in a flash
By Pat Kirwan
Special to NFL.com
(March 4, 2003) -- When teams are preparing for free agency back in December and January, they are all capable of ranking the potential free agents in some order of how they see the talent pool. Most teams can anticipate which players under contract will probably come free because of glaring contract issues, but not many can predict how fast the market will move and what the ceiling on price will be.
For example, the wide receiver market hasn't even heated up yet, although the Baltimore Ravens appear ready to go after Arizona Cardinals wideout David Boston and the New York Giants kept Ike Hilliard off the street with a new deal. We will see wide receiver deals coming in over the next few weeks, but the offensive left tackle market is all but done. It's only the first week of free agency and the price was set very high and the supply was depleted overnight.
Here's how most teams stacked the left tackle position on their free-agency board and here's what has happened to them in a matter of days. It's important to note that in the entire NFL, only eight players were given franchise tags and two of those were left tackles. Teams that don't protect this position will pay dearly to retain the services of their player.
1. Orlando Pace, STL: Franchise tag on Feb. 20 -- off the board
2. Walter Jones, SEA: Franchise tag on Feb. 20 -- off the board
3. Luke Petitgout, NYG: Signed a six-year, $30 million deal with a $10 million bonus the night before free agency started -- off the board. Petitgout made about $450,000 in 2002, but this new deal set the market for the rest of the left tackles.
4. Flozell Adams, DAL: Within hours of Petitgout's deal, Adams signed a five-year, $25 million deal with a $10 million signing bonus -- off the board. One GM said, "The Cowboys would have been better off putting a transition tag on Adams. It would have been cheaper to let the league teams set the market." Too late now.
5. Wayne Gandy, PIT/NO: Finally, a left tackle hits the open market. It took just three days for the Saints to land the 32-year-old Gandy, but they had competition. Because of the above four tackles, the average salary for a left tackle now averages $5 million a year. Wow! Gandy gets a six-year, $30 million deal. The signing bonus is 'only' $5 million, but he will see $15 million in the first three years. I promise Gandy was no higher than fifth on most boards, but the ripple effect of the first four fell all the way to him. This signing produces the only wild card at the position. Now New Orleans can put a 'For Sale' sign on Kyle Turley.
With the Saints landing Wayne Gandy, LT Kyle Turley's days with the team might be numbered.
6. Kyle Turley, NO: I spoke with five personnel people who all agreed Turley would have been third on their board if he were free from the beginning. He has the same agent as Petitgout, so anyone serious about trading for him has to expect to come up with a deal that will average just over $5 million a year and a signing bonus that is at least $10 million.
The next point is that Turley only has this year left on his contract and it's at $3.38 million. No team will trade with the Saints unless they get a long-term deal done first and that's only going to happen if they're prepared to pay the present market value.
Turley will not have much problem sliding over to right tackle in New Orleans for one season and hitting the open market next year when we must assume the price will be even higher than 2003. If a long-term blockbuster deal can be constructed, then you have to ask the question, what does New Orleans want in compensation?
The best scenario I heard was a team in the lower third of the first round or a very high second-round team will probably have to give up that pick and get back the Saints' third-round pick, along with Turley.
Think it sounds impossible? I didn't think the left tackle market would be closed down in less than a week of free agency and that the top five players would average $5 million a year, but that's where we are today. By the way, I hear three teams are really exploring the idea of going after Turley anyway. Welcome to free agency 2003.
As soon as the Turley issues are resolved, all eyes will turn to what little talent is left. If anyone watched what Roman Oben did for the Bucs last season, especially down the stretch, then he's the next logical stop. Right behind him will be Richmond Webb, and after that, the draft. Oben won't demand what the top tackles got, but his asking price and value went way up after these deals got done. No one could be happier than Oben or Webb with the way things have gone so far, except of course Turley.
When Seattle and St. Louis get around to signing Jones and Pace to long-term deals, I can't even begin to wonder what kind of money they expect to make now. The best news in all this is that offensive linemen are grouped all together to establish the franchise and transition salaries. Guards and centers stand to make a significant pay raise from the business dealings of the left tackles.
turley wants to go on the west coast like the chargers but what do they have in trade....not rodney harrison cause he is a free agent and he wants to come to new orleans and the 49\'ers really dont have anything either...so i would take that trade with the radiers for charles woodson.....and what are the saints waiting for to sign john carney????
Why a Turley/Tebucky Jones trade would make sense (I know it\'s pure speculation and Jones is not up for a trade, just want to explain why I gave the green light to that in the other thread):
1. >> The best scenario I heard was a team in the lower third of the first round or a very high second-round team will probably have to give up that pick and get back the Saints\' third-round pick, along with Turley.
We may not like it, but that\'s how he is valued. Left tackles are all off the market and we should get more for him .... yada yada yada. I based my opinion on that assumption. If we get the No. 3 pick I\'m all for it, I just don\'t see it. So let\'s assume a pick in the lower third of the first round is the best we can get.
2. Along come the Patriots and offer pick #19. Saints take it and don\'t even have to give up their third round pick. A better deal than expected.
3. Along come the Patriots again and want their pick back in exchange for Jones. Is Jones worth a #19 pick? Hell yeah. A great deal for the Saints.
Are the Raiders even looking for a LT? I only heard they may want to get a different Center in.
Another question: Would it be so bad if Turley played out the last year of his contract? Giving him away for what is rumoured is selling him cheap, why not keep him to play RT? I don\'t like his attitude towards this club a lot, but he still wants to win and he knows that - if he stays here - the play next season will determine the terms of his next contract.
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