The salary cap casualty dominos have begun falling over the past week. On Friday a familiar face to the Baltimore Ravens at a position of need became one of them when the Green Bay Packers released offensive tackle Rick Wagner and linebacker Christian Kirksey.
The Ravens are set at inside linebacker but could be in need of a new bookend tackle on the right side of their offensive line if current starter and two-time Pro Bowler, Orlando Brown Jr. gets his wish granted and is traded to another team where he can live out his dream of playing left tackle.
Wagner was originally drafted by the Ravens in the fifth round of the 2013 Draft out of Wisconsin. He spent the first four years of his career in Baltimore, where he established himself as one the best right tackles in the league before he priced himself out of town. During the 2017 offseason he signed a five-year deal worth $47.5 million with the Detroit Lions.
Wagner lasted three years in the Motor City before he was cut to clear cap space last March. He signed a two-year deal worth $11 million with the Packers four days later.
Injuries and inconsistent play have plagued Wagner since he left Baltimore. His open market value has been reduced to that of a mid-tier veteran which will make him relatively inexpensive in a COVID cap year if he intends to continue his playing career.
According to ESPN Packers reporter Rob Demovsky, the eight-year veteran is contemplating retirement but perhaps General Manager Eric DeCosta could coax him into returning to Baltimore for one more year to serve as a stop-gap starter at right tackle if Brown Jr. is traded or an upgrade at swing tackle if he is not. Wagner could contend for a championship in Baltimore and retire as a Raven.
The Packers have released veteran tackle Rick Wagner, who sources say is contemplating retirement, and ILB Christian Kirksey.— Rob Demovsky (@RobDemovsky) February 19, 2021
The moves clear $10.25m million in salary-cap space.
They'll no doubt be in the market for OT help, considering David... https://t.co/NtH8WSWYJ1
In his lone season with Green Bay last year, Wagner appeared in all 16 regular-season games and both playoff games, allowing just one sack in 11 starts. While he had a rough outing in the NFC Championship against the eventual Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he still earned a respectable 77 overall grade from Pro Football Focus for the year.
This year’s draft class is loaded with offensive line talent and it is especially deep at tackle. The likelihood of the Ravens finding their other bookend opposite of All-Pro Ronnie Stanley is higher than it would be in most years.
However, bringing in a seasoned veteran like Wagner could take the pressure off of the front office to address the potential vacancy on the starting unit with one of their top picks. Even if they did, the rookie wouldn’t be burdened with the pressure of having to replace a Pro Bowl caliber player like Brown Jr. in year one.