Zack Martin became the NFL’s latest version of Scrooge McDuck Tuesday after signing a six-year $84 million contract extension that made him the highest-paid guard in the NFL. It contains $40 million in guaranteed money.
Martin has made four Pro Bowls and has been an All-Pro twice during his four short years in the NFL. He is considered to be the best guard in the NFL.
So how does this relate to Tampa Bay? Well, they also have a very talented guard who is due a rather large pay day after 2018 in Ali Marpet.
Marpet has been one of the Bucs’ best offensive linemen since he was drafted in the second round of the 2015 draft. His athleticism and size has also made him one of Tampa’s most versatile lineman.
While he may not have the accolades and recognition that Martin has, Marpet has definitely made his mark on the league in his first few years.
Martin has played tremendously well, there is no doubt about that - but Marpet is no slouch.
Pro Football Focus’ grades for Martin and Marpet from 2015-2017:
- Martin: 2015: 89/ 2016: 86.9/ 2017: 92.2
- Marpet: 2015: 75.7/ 2016: 84.9/ 2017: 79
As you can see, Martin held a distinct advantage over Marpet during Marpet’s rookie season, but that’s to be expected - Martin had already been in the league for a year at that point. Marpet only trailed by a couple of points after his second season at guard and his third-year grade can be attributed to a position change in during the season due to injuries along the line. It’s not crazy to think that Marpet would have graded out much better playing guard for the duration of 2017.
Another part of the equation is the size of the markets that both teams play in. Any type of good performance by Martin is going to get a lot more attention than any of Marpet’s achievements.
It can also be argued that Marpet’s ability to play center at a productive level gives him a leg up on his competition. It’s not unusual for interior linemen to play multiple spots, but to be able to play them effectively is a tool that sets some apart from most others.
And if Ryan Jensen brings the much-needed intensity and talent infusion as thought, then that should elevate Marpet’s play. Marpet has been the anchor on this line but now he has help.
Although Marpet may not reach Martin’s contract status, there is no way he doesn’t sign for anything less than an eight-figure per-year salary. With just a little more than $10 million in cap room for 2019, the Bucs may have to make some tough decisions when they pay Marpet his due.
Regardless, there should be plenty of Ukuleles for Marpet to give out next summer.