Left tackle has been the second-highest paid position on the offense for the last several years, trailing just the quarterback.
Teams will pay big money for a stud like Joe Thomas or Jake Long to anchor their line. And it’s extremely important that quarterbacks are protected.
But elite left tackles don’t translate to playoff success like one would expect. The three best tackles in the NFL over the past five or so years have been Thomas, Long and Jason Peters. The trio has 15 combined Pro Bowl selections without a single playoff win.
The Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl this year without a stable left tackle (Bryant McKinnie came off the bench to turn in a fine postseason but the position was less-than-stellar all year). Last year, David Diehl of the New York Giants turned in the single worst season of any offensive lineman, per Pro Football Focus. Chad Clifton was merely average for the 2010 Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers. And Jermon Bushrod really struggled in 2009 for the New Orleans Saints, especially in the playoffs.
This doesn’t mean offensive linemen aren’t important. Paying a left tackle a lot of money is a fine strategy if he’s worth paying. But a team can survive—and even win—with an average blindside blocker.