Oakland Raiders: Prediction on Gabe Jackson deal

As Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr takes the top spot in pay grade among all NFL players, how much will the front office award to Gabe Jackson?

For the Oakland Raiders, it’s next man up. No, they’re not preparing for a backup player to take over for a starter, but offensive guard Gabe Jackson stands next in line for a contract extension. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport sent out a tweet before the draft confirming the team’s offseason plans:

The Raiders exercised the fifth-year option on Khalil Mack’s contract, which probably shocked the world — note the sarcasm font — which buys the front office time on likely making him the highest-paid non-QB in the league.

Last year, Mack became the first in NFL history to earn All-Pro honors at two different positions, linebacker and defensive end. He’s going to sign a massive deal that will make headlines next year.

Right now, let’s discuss Jackson’s forthcoming deal. He doesn’t have a Pro Bowl on his resume, but he’s shown versatility playing two seasons at left guard and shifting to the opposite side to accommodate Kelechi Osemele. According to Pro Football Focus, Jackson has played slightly above average over the past two seasons:

Offensive line ranks as the Raiders’ strongest unit, the group allowed the fewest sacks during the previous season, per Pro Football Focus:

It’s ideal to keep the five men paid to protect the $125 million man in intact, especially if they’re not giving up too many sacks. Derek Carr is the crown jewel, but the Raiders must keep a strong cohesive fortress around him.

Jackson will undoubtedly earn a payout within the top 10 at the guard position, which equates to a salary higher than $8 million per year via Spotrac. When it’s time to negotiate, it’s all about the market. Where does a player fit among his peers?

Gauging the Market

The Denver Broncos signed offensive guard Ronald Leary to a four-year, $36 million deal, even though he’s only played 16 games over the past two seasons and doesn’t have a single Pro Bowl honor to his name.

Along with versatility and solid performances, Jackson has started every game over the past two seasons. Expect the Raiders right guard to make an average salary slightly higher than Leary.

If the above prediction comes to fruition, the Raiders would have the highest-paid guard tandem in terms of yearly salary in the league. Guards Kevin Zeitler and Joel Bitonio signed fresh deals with the Cleveland Browns, and both rank within the top seven in yearly payouts at the position. The former lists as the highest-paid interior offensive lineman at $12 million per year.

The high dollar amounts could make your head spin, but it’s a good problem to wrestle with in the front office. It’s better to make waves rewarding in-house talent than chasing high-priced free agents in bidding wars. McKenzie put together an extraordinary 2014 draft class, and now it’s time to pay up. Like Carr, Jackson deserves the cash.

Contract Prediction: Four years, $37 million ($9.25 million per year)

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