The Pittsburgh Steelers gave center Maurkice Pouncey a contract extension on Thursday reportedly worth a maximum of $44 million. Cleveland just gave Alex Mack a raise in the same price range this offseason to match a transition tag offer from Jacksonville and keep him in a Browns uniform.
Stefen Wisniewski isn’t worth that much. Pouncey is a three-time All-Pro. Mack is a two-time Pro Bowl selection.
The Raiders’ center doesn’t have any of those designations, but he is of great value to the Silver and Black. Wisniewski is the cerebral anchor of a deep, talented offensive line. And, oh yeah, he’s entering a contract year.
The Raiders prefer to reward their own, and Wisniewski’s character, work ethic and talent suggest he’s a prime candidate for a contract extension. The Raiders have a recent track record of doing just that.
Last season, the Raiders locked Marcel Reece up in 2013 before he entered a contract year. They did the same with Taiwan Jones. While they lost both players, the Raiders engaged in extension talks with tackle Jared Veldheer and Lamarr Houston in 2013.
Time will tell what that means for Wisniewski.
While deals signed by Pouncey and Mack likely won’t model an offer made to Wisniewski, it’s a sign that the market for quality centers is on the rise.
Wisniewski has played well since being drafted in the second round of the 2011 draft. He played left guard as a rookie, and didn’t allow a sack in 2012 -- his first pro season at center. Last year might’ve been his best. Wisniewski kept a patchwork line together despite a flurry of injuries and, according to Pro Football Focus, finished the year as a top-10 center.
As it stands, Wisneiwski is the only member of his draft class entering his deal’s final season worthy of an extension at this point. 2011 draftees Denarius Moore and David Ausberry are also entering contract years, but must show something more after either inconsistent or injury-plagued pasts.
Among the players entering unrestricted free agency, Wisniewski might be the only player worthy of getting locked up early when considering age and future potential.
The Raiders certainly hold him in high esteem.
“I think ‘Wiz’ [Stefen Wisniewski] has been a solid piece to that offensive line,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen said on Monday. “He’s a little bit of the glue that kind of holds the thing together because he’s highly intelligent. We put a lot on him from a recognition standpoint, whether it be fronts, stunts, blitzes. All that is part of the process. To have somebody of his ability level and his intelligence level kind of running things in there is key for our success.”
Photo of Stefan Wisniewski courtesy of AP.