Throughout the offseason, we’ll be profiling players who may end up in Denver when all is said and done with NFL Free Agency. The Broncos clearly have plenty of holes to fill before they get back to Super-Bowl form and we’ll be examining a long list of players they may choose to help the franchise do just that.
In a relatively weak year for offensive tackles—in free agency and the draft—Baltimore Ravens right tackle Ricky Wagner separates himself from the pack as one of the best tackles on the open market this year. The five-year vet established himself as the Ravens starting right tackle the past three years after being drafted in the fifth round of the 2013 NFL Draft out of the University of Wisconsin.
Listed as the best free agent tackle available by Gregg Rosenthal, the 27-year old has plenty of football left in the tank and will due for a big contract once free agency starts on March 9. While Wagner did play left tackle for a time at Wisconsin, his ideal position is anchoring the right side of an offensive line.
Wagner’s greatest strength lies in his all-around consistency: from his balanced skills to his durability. At 6-foot-6, 310 pounds, Wagner plays both the run and the pass at a high level, not showing a significant weakness in any part of his game. Additionally, after only starting two games during his rookie season, Wagner has been very durable—playing in all but two games the past three seasons since he became a full-time starter.
According to Pro Football Focus, Wagner ranked as the 19th best tackle in the league last season.
As one of the best tackles in this year’s free agency class, Wagner doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses in his game. However, what you see with Wagner is what you get, meaning he most likely won’t continue to get leaps and bounds better.
Since this year’s offensive tackle class is weak in free agency and the draft, Wagner, and the few other above average tackles, will most likely draw a big paycheck. While Wagner hasn’t been selected to a Pro Bowl in his four year career, he will likely command a Pro Bowl-type contract—potentially in the neighborhood of $10 million a year.
How he fits in Denver
Even though the Denver Broncos has over $40 million in cap space entering free agency, general manager John Elway has a track record of not overpaying for players. If Denver and Wagner can agree on the financials, Wagner would be a natural fit into new offensive coordinator Mike McCoy’s offense.
Wagner would be the tackle that the Broncos hoped to find last year in the free agent signings of Russell Okung and Donald Stephenson. While Wagner has played on the right side the past three seasons, the Broncos would likely have him anchor the blindside at left tackle.