Last weekend, Detroit Lions general manager Brad Holmes said locking up center Frank Ragnow was a priority for the organization, but declined to put a timeline on the negotiations. It turned out to be five days.
According to an ESPN report, the Lions and Ragnow agreed to a four-year extension that will make him the NFL’s highest-paid center. NFLPA records show Ryan Kelly and Corey Linsley previously topped the charts, each having contracts that averaged $12.5 million per season.
“Yeah, it’s extremely important,” Holmes said Saturday when asked about getting a deal done with Ragnow. “We already view him as a long-term piece and he is a foundational piece because Frank is a guy that plays the game the right way. He’s everything that we look for and what we want as a Lion.”
The NFL Network states Ragnow’s extension will average $13.5 million per season, including $42 million in guarantees and will run through 2026. The team had previously picked up the fifth-year option on his contract for 2022 for $12.66 million.
Drafted in the first round of the 2018 draft, Ragnow has become a foundational piece for the Lions. After starting 16 games at guard as a rookie, he shifted to center his second season and quickly established himself as one of the league’s best at the position. In 2020, he was named a Pro Bowler for the first time.
Ragnow was dominant in 14 games last season, not allowing a sack for the first time in his career, while committing just two penalties, also a personal best.
He missed two contests after suffering fractured cartilage in this throat. He initially suffered the injury in the opening quarter of the team’s Week 13 matchup with Green Bay, but managed to finish the contest.
“I started hurting pretty bad and my voice sounded like, you know, when your dog is chewing on a squeaker toy?” Ragnow explained a few weeks later. “When the squeaker toy gets broken and it’s kinda wispy. …I kept on talking to the medical team and their main concern was my airway and my airway was never threatened.”
Ragnow visited a specialist and was told not to talk for a couple of weeks in an effort to prevent permanent damage to his vocal chords. He even managed to return to the lineup for Detroit’s season finale.
The extension for Ragnow reaffirms Detroit’s commitment to building its offensive line. The team agreed to a similar long-term extension with Taylor Decker last offseason and drafted offensive tackle Penei Sewell with the No. 7 pick last Thursday.