The aptitude of the Cleveland Browns' new front office is going to be put to the test very quickly when it comes to the offensive line. We already know the situation with C Alex Mack, but the team also has to make a decision when it comes to RT Mitchell Schwartz.
Schwartz just finished his rookie deal and will be an unrestricted free agent heading into his fifth year in the NFL. Heading into 2015, Schwartz seemed like an above average right tackle. Then, he went and had himself a career year, ranking very highly on Pro Football Focus to the point where he could be the most coveted right tackle on the market this year. If Cleveland wants to retain him, they might have to pay a premium, especially with the contract extension that Lane Johnson just received in Philadelphia:
Mitchell Schwartz's agent should position Lane Johnson's deal as re-setting the RT market. I recognize Johnson will be a LT at some point.— Joel Corry (@corryjoel) January 30, 2016
Johnson was drafted in 2013 as the No. 4 overall pick of the draft, so the Eagles took care of him a year early. Schwartz was a 2nd round pick in 2012. Johnson's value is perceived as being higher because he will eventually take over for Jason Peters at left tackle, and Schwartz isn't expected to make such a transition. With that said, Johnson is still a right tackle at this point, and Schwartz' agent might push the traditionally-lower market value for right tackles to start with, knowing they'll be talked down a little bit.
The base value of Lane Johnson's extension is $56.26M over 5 years. The new money max value is $60.01M through Pro Bowl escalators.— Joel Corry (@corryjoel) January 29, 2016
On a per year level, Johnson will be the league's 4th-highest paid offensive tackle ($11.25 million per year), just behind LT Joe Thomas at No. 3. Right tackles typically make less than $7 million per year, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see Schwartz' agent push for $7 million per year, given the value that Johnson is getting.
Hurting Schwartz' case is the fact that he's never made a Pro Bowl or been named to an All-Pro team, but hurting the Browns could be facing the possibility of losing both Mack and Schwartz. Another plus in Schwartz' favor is the fact that he hasn't missed a single snap in four years. We'll see how Sashi Brown and company handle the situation.