It is a known fact that the Ravens offensive line was among the best in the league in 2014, which paved the way for a Pro Bowl year for journeyman running back Justin Forsett, and the offense to set team records. Pro Football Focus ranked the unit third overall behind the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys for the season.
However, questions have been raised about the line's sustainability- both guards, Marshal Yanda and Kelechi Osemele are scheduled to become free agents after the season. The team does have some potential in house replacements, with John Urschel looking great in his five starts last season, and the team using a fifth rounder on Robert Myers this year, but both players are top 10 guards based on their play last season, so ideally they would be able to hang on to both of them.
So this raised a question: what is a normal amount to spend on an offensive line- the starters make up 5/22 of the starting players on offense & defense, or almost 23 percent. Players like FB/WR3 and TE require less expenditure, while QB requires much more, plus a team need backups. But on average if you divided the salary cap by the amount of positions, the offensive lines 22% would mean approximately $30 million, which is approximately the investment of the 3 teams which spend the most on their offensive lines.
Here is the breakdown team by team:
|1||New York Jets||15||$32,654,593||20.91%|
|11||San Francisco 49ers||13||$24,380,843||16.27%|
|15||New England Patriots||13||$20,981,711||14.51%|
|18||Green Bay Packers||13||$20,952,161||13.83%|
|19||New Orleans Saints||13||$20,019,571||13.80%|
|21||New York Giants||14||$18,433,519||12.85%|
|23||San Diego Chargers||13||$16,493,244||11.54%|
|26||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||14||$16,312,160||11.26%|
|28||St. Louis Rams||12||$16,090,085||11.12%|
|30||Kansas City Chiefs||16||$14,884,800||10.19%|
The Ravens slot in at 12th in the league at $22,367,438 (15.41%), although having 2 players on their rookie contracts helps . With the exception of the Philadelphia Eagles and Cleveland Browns, none of the teams in the top 10 in salary have offensive lines which are among the top 10 PFF Offensive lines. However, none of the teams ranked in the bottom 15 salary by PFF made the top 10 either, except for the Dallas Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Steelers, both of whom are only paying one player big money and have 3 or more players on rookie contracts. Both have invested many high round picks on the O-line: Dallas with 3 recent 1st rounders, and Pittsburgh with 2 1st rounders and 2 2nd rounders.
By contrast, the Ravens have 1 2nd rounder, and a first rounder who they did not draft on the whole line. In fact, the offensive line is a testament to just how great the Ravens front office and coaching staff is:
Marshal Yanda- 3rd rounder
Kelechi Osemele- late 2nd rounder
Rick Wagner- 5th rounder
Jeremy Zuttah- traded for a 5th rounder (drafted 4th round)
Eugene Monroe- traded for 4th and 5th rounders (drafted top 10)
John Urschel- 5th rounder
James Hurst- Undrafted Rookie Free Agent
Myers- 5th rounder
They have spent 1st rounders at the position, we just haven’t held onto them: Grubbs and Oher, both of them were over 5 years ago. Grubbs was let go under the 80/20 rule, and hasn't looked particularly good since he left except for 1 year. And Oher was mediocre and got grossly overpaid, him being cut after 1 year is the biggest proof.
7 of the top 10 teams in offensive line salary were between the 9th and 17th highest in salary, 14.29-16.56% of the cap- middle of the pack. The only exceptions were the aforementioned Eagles, Steelers, and Cowboys. Ironically, the Eagles were known as the team who developed late rounders into high level starters on the offensive line under Castillo, so it is strange to see them at the top of the salary list. Clearly the way to build a team is to be judicial with who you spend money, without skimping on the always important unit. The Ravens have clearly done so, cutting ties with players like Oher and Grubb rather than pay more than they were worth.
In addition the Ravens managed to build a top unit through mid round draft picks and trading mid round picks, so besides the average financial expenditure, they have not invested a large amount of draft capital especially in the middle rounds. The Ravens definitely get bang for their buck on the offensive line, in every single way!