Another week, another upcoming UFA for us to analyze the market of.
Trey Pipkins, Right Tackle
Trey's 2022 season was the ultimate crow eating session for yours truly. I was so convinced Trey couldn't be counted on to hold down the starting right tackle spot, I dove into film analysis and wrote an article detailing my concerns.
Trey responded to his doubters by attending Duke Manyweather's camp, and likely became the single greatest testimony to Duke's proficiencies as a coach. Pipkins appeared stronger at the point of impact from EDGE rushers; where he had previously been folded back when met with force, he suddenly showcased an anchor and punch. It was a sight to see.
Sadly, Trey injured his MCL in a Week 5 showdown against the Browns. With Jamaree Salyer already filling in at left tackle for an injured Rashawn Slater, the drop-off from Pipkins to Storm Norton or Foster Sarrell was steep. In a Herculean effort, Trey gutted it out throughout the season, occasionally coming out for a series or two, but ultimately only missing a total of three games throughout a painful 2022 campaign.
Trey's Market Comps
Below is my breakdown of what I took to be the most relevant market comparables for Trey Pipkins.
Another Charger UFA market analysis.— Kyle DeDiminicantanio (@TheKyleDe) January 31, 2023
Ultimately, Trey Pipkin's value on the market is likely repressed from his lack of a supporting year, along with a contract year that was continuously hampered by injuries.
He's a value signing for us; we know how much he's improved in '22. pic.twitter.com/gOzU3vwzbr
High-Bracket Comp: La'el Collins, RT CIN
As Terron Armstead has been an elite left tackle for years, he wasn't relevant to this conversation, despite being the marquee free agent of the tackle class.
La'el Collins was the third highest paid tackle, and highest paid right tackle of the 2022 free agent class. It's difficult to really compare Collins to Pipkins; Collins worked his way onto the Cowboys starting lineup in his rookie season and was a solid starter his entire career. His biggest issue was durability, but Collins showed positional flexibility, starting as a guard and eventually sliding to right tackle, and posted >82 PFF scores in two seasons. Collins was a core piece of a Dallas offensive line that was widely considered one of the top units of the league for seven seasons (two which were largely lost to injury).
Collins was extended by the Cowboy's in 2019 to a 5 yr, $50,000,000 contract, but after injuries and a PED suspension he was ultimately cut right before the 2021 league year.
He wasn't a free agent for long; three days on the open market and he was signed to the Bengals to three years for $21,000,000.
Although La'el isn't a true comparable to Trey due to his sustained success and contributions on a premier offensive line unit, it's relevant to point out that even with all of his success and being the premiere Right Tackle on the market in 2022, he only signed for an APY of $7,000,000.
Low Bracket Comp: Cornelius Lucas, Swing Tackle WSH
Cornelius Lucas was my white whale last offseason. He is a player that filled in admirably for the Washington as a left tackle in 2020 and a right tackle at 2021. He routinely grades out as an above-average starter since really coming on the scene with Chicago as their swing in 2019. In the four seasons since then, each with over 500 snaps to his name, he has graded out at 72.2, 78.2, 75.2, and most recently 67.7 on PFF.
Although he's an older player on this list, he has mostly been a reserve lineman over his career and thus doesn't carry the same wear-and-tear as his fellow comps.
Mid-Bracket Comp: Trent Brown, RT NE
At one point, Trent Brown had signed a contract that was to make him the highest-paid offensive lineman in NFL history, a four-year deal worth $66,000,000 signed in 2019. This was the "peak" of right tackles being signed to monster contracts; although his contract year with New England was the one year he played at left tackle, the Raiders paid him top dollar and plugged him in at right tackle for the two years he was there, and he hasn't returned to the left side since.
Nevertheless, Trent has been to the Pro Bowl once, and was a part of a Super Bowl winning roster. Today, he serves as a cautionary tale for signing right tackles to large deals; he only survived half of the four year deal he signed with the Raiders, pocketing 55.7% of total value of the contract. After being cut by the Raiders after the 2020 season, he returned to the Patriots at a steep discount, signing for $7,588,235.
He resigned with New England in 2022 on a two year, $13,000,000 contract. There were extensive incentives placed into this contract with Brown hit last season so he did receive a significant bump in his 2023 pay (essentially, adding an extra $5,000,000 to the contract). This did bring his contract closer to $8mil/APY, a higher APY than Collins signed for. However, it is still an incredible stretch to consider Trent's market value, with or without incentives, in the same zip code as Trey Pipkins given his years of success and at one point being the highest paid lineman in the league.
Other 2022 Signings
- Duane Brown, LT, 2yr/$20,000,000
- Morgan Moses, RT, 3yr/$15,000,000
- Eric Fischer, LT/RT, 1yr/$3,000,000
- Riley Reiff, RT, 1yr/$3,000,000
- Billy Turner, RT, 1yr/$2,500,000
- Dennis Kelly, RT, 1yr/$1,272,500
Appraising Trey's Value
I assigned Trey the comparables I presented to illustrate how repressed the right tackle market is. Both the mid and high-bracket comparables have years of sustained success in the NFL, but given his lack of playing time and only solidifying himself as a starter for one season, he is way closer to a Billy Turner, Dennis Kelly, or Cornelius Lucas than he is a Trent Brown or La'el Collins.
That said, Trey is a prime candidate to take a short-term deal on a team with a talented offense that has a hole at tackle. Staying with the Chargers can only benefit him, as Zion will likely continue to improve as his linemate, and the offensive line as a whole should be a top-tier unit when healthy. With an additional two years of above-average play, Trey could hit the market at in 2025 at 28 years old and be primed for a decent pay day.
I see Trey signing for somewhere around $7,500,000 over two years, with an APY of $3,750,000, and $4,000,000 guaranteed. His cap hit in 2022 would be $3,000,000, an extremely reasonable figure when considering the line currently consists of two or three rookie-contract starters. Now, it's just up to Telesco to figure out where he creates some additional cap space from.
Bolts from the Blue, where do you see Trey signing, and is it with us?