Detroit Lions need to prioritize re-signing LT Taylor Decker

(Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images) /

To date, starting left tackle Taylor Decker hasn’t had any serious conversations with the Detroit Lions about a contract extension.

After a slow start to the 2019 NFL season, mostly due to a lower back injury, starting left tackle, Taylor Decker performed well above average anchoring the left side of the Detroit Lions offensive line.

It’s not necessarily a ‘make or break’ year for Decker, but he is entering the final year of his rookie deal and will be hoping to cash in before the 2021 season.  Decker had been selected by the Detroit Lions back in 2016, with the 16th overall pick coming out of Ohio State.

The soon to be 27-year old stands a monstrous 6-foot-7 and did an immaculate job protecting quarterback Matthew Stafford and the revolving door of quarterbacks after he’d been injured last season.

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Week one at Arizona last season Decker’s play was simply atrocious.  We later found out he’d been battling a back issue, and probably should have opted to miss the season opener.  After that poor performance, Decker sat out week two but returned to the field in week three, and that’s when his season turned around.  Decker played very well against the Eagles and had a sensational showing against the Kansas City Cheifs in week four.

According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), Decker produced an overall mark of 75.5 last season, which ranks as his best overall grade aside from his stellar rookie campaign.  PFF also ranked Decker as the 20th best tackle in all of football; this takes into consideration both left and right tackle positions.  That’s a respectable rank when you consider all the options.

Decker is someone the Detroit Lions need to get extended before he hits the open market because next year’s free-agent pool of available left tackles is relatively thin.

It’s a crop of tackles that will be headlined by Trent Williams, who, in all likelihood, will be retained by the San Francisco 49ers before he hits the open market.  Other notable names that could become available are David Bakhtiari of the Packers who ranked as the leagues 14th best tackle but earned himself a spectacular 89.9 pass-blocking grade per PFF; he’s not going anywhere.  Russell Okung will be 34-years old next year, Dion Dawkins in Buffalo, along with Alejandro Villanueva in Pittsburgh, and I don’t see either being available.

I wonder if general manager Bob Quinn is just waiting to see where the market falls for players like Villanueva and Dawkins are on the same skill-level as Decker.  Villanueva ranked as the leagues’ 23rd best tackle last season, just three spots behind Decker but considered to be a much better pass blocker.  Dawkins also listed in the same area coming in 25th overall with a very similar ranking to Decker at 73.1.

Decker is a plug and play player, and Detroit should make resigning him a priority.  He’s started 55 of 64 possible starts over his four years in Detroit.  Get this, he’s started alongside a different starting left guard in each of his four seasons.

Next. 3 positions that could still use some upgrading. dark

Aside from Frank Ragnow, he’s the most valuable player on the offensive line, and Detroit shouldn’t risk losing him to free agency.  The Lions need to pay the man his due and hopefully, Ragnow, Vaitai, Jackson, and Stenberg can build some continuity for years to come.