THURSDAY, 5:46pm: The Raiders announced (on Twitter) that it’s a done deal.
TUESDAY, 11:26am: Osemele will get a five-year deal that can be worth up to $60MM, according to Getlin (Twitter links). Getlin adds that the base value is $11.7MM per season, which works out to $58.5MM over five years.
9:58am: Osemele’s new contract will be worth more than $11MM annually and will make him one of the top five highest-paid offensive linemen in the NFL, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter)
9:12am: The Raiders are on track to sign one of the top offensive free agents on the market when the new league year begins on Wednesday, according to Rand Getlin of the NFL Network, who reports (via Twitter) that Oakland had reached an agreement in principle with offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele.
Osemele, 26, has been a starter on the Ravens’ offensive line since being selected by the team in the second round of the 2012 draft, earning playing time at right tackle, guard, and – most recently – left tackle. Although he has been slowed a little by injuries in recent years, missing multiple games in each of the last three seasons, Osemele has been a reliable performer on Baltimore’s line. Pro Football Focus ranked him 18th out of 77 qualified tackles in 2015, giving him the second-highest run-blocking grade at the position.
While the Ravens reportedly made a strong effort to bring Osemele back, their cap situation didn’t afford them nearly as much flexibility as the Raiders have. After a strong contract year, the Iowa State product looked poised to become at least the highest-paid guard in the NFL, and perhaps to be paid like a top-10 left tackle.
In fact, Getlin tweets that Osemele’s market was “incredibly hot” and that his deal will “blow the top off” the guard market. That price tag was likely too high for the Ravens and for the Vikings, who were also said to be pursuing Osemele. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets that the Jets also dropped out of the running based on the lineman’s asking price.
Although the Raiders and Osemele have reached an agreement in principle, it’s worth reiterating that no teams can complete deals with outside free agents until Wednesday afternoon at 3:00pm central time. While most verbal agreements are completed at that time, we have seen deals fall apart during the legal tampering period in the past. A year ago, Frank Gore appeared headed to the Eagles before he signed with the Colts instead. Two years ago, the Raiders seemed on the verge of signing Rodger Saffold to a huge contract before concerns over his physical scuttled the deal.
Assuming the two sides do finalize the deal on Wednesday, it will be interesting to see how the Raiders plan to use Osemele. The team could slot him in at guard, but with left tackle Donald Penn eligible to hit the open market on Wednesday himself, Oakland has some flexibility when it comes to Osemele’s role. Their agreement with the ex-Raven may also give the Raiders some leverage in negotiations with Penn, whom they reportedly want to retain. Having entered the day armed with approximately $60MM in cap room, per OverTheCap.com, the club certainly has the flexibility to sign both players.
Osemele ranked fourth overall in our list of this year’s top 50 free agents.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.