NFL Problems: Left Tackle vs Right Tackle
Updated: Mar 23, 2021
Who’s More Important?
The Great Debate between left tackle and right tackle. Who’s more important? Why are they paid differently? If this were my world, I would say they are both equally important, and should both be equally paid, but they’re not and here is why. A left tackle blocks the quarterback’s “blindside”; the side his back is facing when he drops back to pass. Now, some may say the left tackle has the better footwork and mechanics, which can be true at times. Also, left tackles are usually drafted higher overall than a right tackle. I’m sure you read all of that and say to yourself “so where’s the debate?” Well, now more than ever, guys are being drafted as right tackles and thrown in to play left tackle and vice versa. Now more than ever, they’ve been interchangeable. When a left tackle goes down, most teams switch their right tackle to left tackle, and put their back up right tackle in to start on the right side. I’ve watched it on numerous occasions with the New York Jets, as well as the Baltimore Ravens, who are both facing problems with this debate as we speak.
We’ll start with the Ravens whose left tackle, Ronnie Stanley, went down with a season ending injury, which prompted Orlando Brown Jr, their right tackle, to go play on the left side. After excelling at the left tackle position, he’s now gone public saying he wants to be a left tackle and deserves that. His father, the late, great, Hall Of Fame left tackle, Orlando Brown always wanted that for him.
Everyone knows a left tackle gets paid more and when you’re that good no matter what side you play on, you deserve that money. Unfortunately, that money is a huge difference right now. The top 3 highest paid left tackles right now are: David Bakhtiari ($23 million per year), Laremy Tunsil ($22 million per year), and Garrett Bolles ($17 million per year). The top 3 highest paid right tackles are: Lane Johnson ($18 million per year), Trent Brown ($16.5 million per year), and Jack Conklin ($14 million per year). You’re telling these athletes that the best left tackle should be paid an extra $5 million more than the best right tackle, because of simply a label of which side you play on? It makes zero sense and causes problems such as the ones the Ravens now face. Do we have to trade our star right tackle now? Will he hold out until he gets that left tackle money? It’s all problems you don’t want to have, ESPECIALLY on the O-Line. The O-Line is the glue to your offense as we just witnessed with the Kansas City Chiefs, who just got destroyed in the Super Bowl because of their injuries on the O-Line.
Jets Gonna Jet
Unfortunately for me (a Jets fan), the Jets are walking right into this issue with the NFL Draft coming up. A lot of people want them to draft the star left tackle Penei Sewell, out of Oregon, but they just drafted the star left tackle in Mekhi Becton the year before. So, you’re asking one of them to move to the right side and be labeled “less important” and get paid less. Not only that, but with the Jets selecting at number 2 overall, are you really going to draft a right tackle with quite literally the second best pick in the draft? No player as a rookie will say no, for the most part, but as his new contract approaches in a few years, you’ll have the same problem the Ravens are having right now with Ronnie Stanley and Orlando Brown Jr.
The quickest way to end this problem is simply paying right tackles in the same price range as left tackles. Sadly, the NFL’s tackle market doesn’t do that and guys eventually have to cave, earning less money so that they can still have a job. Make no mistake, right tackles are equal to left tackles and making them take less money because of a label of “right” or “left” is a problem the NFL needs to end.