It didn’t take long for a pair of former Badger offensive linemen to sign lucrative deals with Thursday’s start of NFL free agency. Ricky Wagner and Kevin Zeitler, both three-year starters for UW and started on the same lines in 2010 and 2011, found new homes on Friday.
Wagner, who started 37 games for the Badgers and was a first-team All-Big Ten selection as a senior, was drafted in the fifth round by Baltimore in 2013. He started 45 games at right tackle for the Ravens over the last three seasons and was the highest-graded pass protecting right tackle in 2014 according to Pro Football Focus. Wagner signed a deal with the Detroit Lions that will reportedly pay him more than $9 million a year, making him the highest paid right tackle in the NFL.
Zeitler, a first-team All-American in 2011 who started 36 games for the Badgers, is joining another former Badger, 10-time Pro Bowler Joe Thomas, on the Cleveland Browns’ offensive line. Zeitler was a first-round draft pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in 2012 and started 71 games at right guard over his five seasons in Cincinnati. Zeitler’s new deal with the Browns is reportedly five years for $60 million, which makes him the highest paid guard in the NFL.
Wagner and Zeitler join former teammate Travis Frederick as the highest paid linemen at their position. Frederick, a three-time Pro Bowler at center, signed a six year, $56.4 million contract extension with the Dallas Cowboys last summer.