What could the Minnesota Vikings potentially end up paying Brian O’Neill after Taylor Moton became the latest right tackle to sign a new deal?
This week saw another big contract handed to a right tackle that won’t have gone unnoticed by Brian O’Neill. The Minnesota Vikings lineman is heading into the final year of his deal and he has enough in the way of quality production behind him to ensure a big payday is coming his way in the not-too-distant future.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that O’Neill has outplayed his rookie contract. His level of performance over the last two seasons has been exceptional, and if he continues this trend in 2021, then the former second-round pick should be rewarded accordingly.
There is now a firm benchmark for O’Neill to aim for after Taylor Moton got paid by the Carolina Panthers just a few short hours before the deadline for franchise-tagged players arrived. The stud edge protection signed a four-year, $72 million deal that included $43 million guaranteed, making him the third highest-paid player at the position and just below the bumper contract Ryan Ramczyk signed with the New Orleans Saints.
A good measuring stick could be to compare Moton and O’Neill’s statistics over the last three years.
- 2,837 snaps
- 19 penalties conceded
- 4 sacks allowed
- 72.2 average PFF grade
- 3,192 snaps
- 14 penalties conceded
- 9 sacks allowed
- 78.0 average PFF grade
Not a huge discrepancy by any stretch of the imagination. One could even argue O’Neill’s bare stats look better than Moton’s.
If O’Neill can raise his game further with the added sense of urgency normally associated with a contract year, then Minnesota would need to stump up a substantial amount of resources to keep him on the books.
The Minnesota Vikings could also use the franchise tag on Brian O’Neill.
According to Spotrac, O’Neill is going to command far less than Moton.
Their analysts project the Pittsburgh product to get an annual salary of $7.6 million on a four-year, $30.42 million deal when he heads to the bargaining table. This seems to be on the low side, considering the eye-catching progress O’Neill has clearly made with every passing campaign.
Somewhere in the region of $10 million per year might be more realistic. However, it might go up even further depending on how the player gets on next season.
It’s important that the Vikings keep O’Neill around in some shape or form. He has his best football ahead of him and his partnership with first-round pick Christian Darrisaw could be a long-term bookend tackle presence to lead Minnesota back into playoff contention.
If things don’t progress accordingly, then the Vikings should give themselves more time by placing O’Neill under the franchise tag in 2022. This obviously comes with a huge increase in pay for the player, but as the Panthers proved with Moton, it can also lead to something long-term, providing terms are reached before the deadline.
Minnesota could have the resources available to get it done with the salary cap set to soar. O’Neill has more than proved his worth to the organization and players with his sort of consistency are hard to find on the edge.
There’s been plenty of player turnover with the Vikings over the last couple of offseasons. This was down to either veteran players being past their prime or simply to free up extra financial resources to better spend elsewhere.
Letting players in their prime leave for nothing is not the smartest way to go about building a winning football team. O’Neill has quickly emerged as an indispensable member of the roster and the Vikings should do whatever it takes to make the player happy with its time to hand him a deserved extension.