Is Matt Light a Hall of Famer?

756020.jpg

Is Matt Light a Hall of Famer?

Does Matt Light belong in the Pro Football Hall of Fame?

My instincts said no, but I sat down last night hoping to prove otherwise and with three very powerful bullets in my wanna-be revolver.

1. Light won three rings, and is one of only five players to start five Super Bowls.

2. He was an essential part of what will eventually be known as one of the signature dynasties in NFL history, and the Hall of Fame likes rewarding legendary teams.

3. He was the almost-exclusive blind side protection for one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.

With that I was off and very quickly deflated.

That's not to say that at some point down the line, 20-25 years from now, once Belichick, Brady, Wilfork, Law, Harrison, Vinatieri, Seymour, Poteat, Klemm and whomever else from this historic run is comfortably nestled in Canton, that the Veteran's Committee won't look at Light and say, "You know what? He had a great career these other players love him he seems like a great guy let's put him in!"

But I'm saying that's probably the only chance he has.

Here's why:

In the last 15 years, only seven tackles have been inducted to the Hall:

Anthony Muoz
Ron Yary
Jackie Slater
Bob Brown
Rayfield White
Gary Zimmerman
Willie Roaf

What's interesting is that these seven guys have a combined three Super Bowl rings among them. (White won two with Dallas; Zimmerman won one with Denver).

Fifteen years. Seven Hall of Fame tackles. Just as many rings combined as Light has by himself.

But here's where the argument loses steam:

Munoz made nine All-Pro teams and 11 Pro Bowls. Yary made six All-Pro teams and seven Pro Bowls. Slater made zero All-Pros but seven Pro Bowls. Brown made six and seven, White made three and six, Zimmerman made three and seven and Roaf made three and 11.

To sum it up, everyone but Slater was an All-Pro at least three times, and they all made at least six Pro Bowls.

Matt Light made one All-Pro team and three Pro Bowls.

That's not enough.

Football may be a team sport, but the Hall of Fame is an individual honor. Rings are nice, but personal accomplishments and dominance matter more. And while Light was undoubtedly steady for his 11 years on Tom Brady's blind side, and as a Pats fan, you probably couldn't have asked for more, as an individual football talent, Light falls short.

When you go back and think of the dominant left tackles of the last decade you think of guys like Walter Jones, Jonathan Ogden, Orlando Pace, Roaf and Chris Samuels before you think of Light, and there's already a new batch of young talent Joe Thomas, Chris Long ready to carry that torch for the next generation. No. 72 is on the outside looking in.

As for being one of five players to start five Super Bowls?

That's nice, but there's no Hall of Fame precedent for reaching that milestone.

Of the four other guys in the Five Start Club, only two John Elway and Brady (I think its safe now) are in the Hall of Fame. The other two are Charles Haley, who's not in the Hall, but probably would be if he hadn't been such a horrible person in his playing days, and Cornelius Bennett, who just never made the cut. (It didnt help that he went 0-5 in his five Super Bowl starts.)

It would be one thing if all four were in there. And it would be an entirely different story if Asante Samuel had made that interception in Arizona or Wes Welker had pulled down that catch in Indianapolis, and Light waded into the Hall of Fame pool with four or five rings. But the five starts aren't enough.

And as for protecting Brady's blindside? We'll never forget Light for the job he did, but Bubba Paris protected Joe Montana's blind side for eight seasons and three Super Bowls, and he's still waiting. Light had a better career (although not a better name) than Paris, but again, the precedent isn't there. Protecting the best of all time is not a Hall of Fame guarantee.

And for a guy like Light, who never even planned on playing college football, that's not such a bad thing. The fact that the question "Does Matt Light belong in the Hall of Fame?" even exists says so much about his career.

But still, not as much as those three rings and 11 years of unbelievable memories.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Will the Harris signing mean more time on the edge for Hightower?

Will the Harris signing mean more time on the edge for Hightower?

David Harris is expected to be a savvy middle linebacker who will line up his teammates when they help. He's expected to provide some level of leadership, even in his first year in New England, as an accomplished-but-hungry 33-year-old who has not yet reached a Super Bowl. 

What Harris is not expected to do is improve the Patriots pass rush. He was in on one sack in 900 snaps last season.  

But in a roundabout way he might. 

MORE: How does Derek Carr's new deal impact Jimmy Garoppolo?

There are dominos to fall now that Harris has been added to Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia's defense. How much will Harris play, and whose playing time will he cut into? Those questions don't yet have answers, but one of the more intriguing elements of the Harris acquisition is how he will benefit Dont'a Hightower's game.

If Harris can pick up the Patriots defense quickly -- and all indications are that there should be few issues there -- he could take some of the all-important communication responsibilities off of Hightower's shoulders. 

Ever since taking the reins from Jerod Mayo as the team's signal-caller, Hightower has had to be on top of all requisite pre-snap checks and last-second alignment changes. It's a critical role, and one that Hightower performs well, but those duties place some added stress on the player wearing the green dot. Perhaps if part of that load can be heaped onto Harris' plate, that might allow Hightower to feel as though he's been freed up to focus on his individual assignments.

Harris' presence might also impact where on the field Hightower is used. Hightower may be the most versatile piece on a Patriots defense loaded with them, but with Harris in the middle, Hightower could end up playing more on the edge, where he's proven he can make a major impact (see: Super Bowl LI).

For Belichick and his staff, having the ability to use one of their best pass-rushers -- and one of the most efficient rushers league-wide, per Pro Football Focus -- on the edge more frequently has to be an enticing byproduct of the move to sign Harris. Especially since there are some question marks among the team's end-of-the-line defenders behind Trey Flowers and Rob Ninkovich. 

We'll have to wait for training camp before we have an idea of how exactly Harris fits in with the Patriots defense. But the effect he'll have on his new teammates, and Hightower in particular, will be fascinating to track. 

How does Derek Carr's new deal impact Jimmy Garoppolo?

How does Derek Carr's new deal impact Jimmy Garoppolo?

Ever since Derek Carr signed a five-year, $125 million extension with the Raiders to give him the highest average annual contract value in league history, some version of the same question has been posed over and over again. 

What does this mean for other quarterbacks looking for new deals? 

Despite the fact that Carr's average annual value surpasses the previous high set by Andrew Luck ($24.6 million), and despite the fact that Carr's contract provides him the security that alluded him while he was on his rookie contract, his recent haul may not mean much for the likes of Matthew Stafford, Kirk Cousins and other top-end quarterbacks.

They were already expecting monster paydays down the road that would hit (or eclipse) the $25 million range, and Carr's record-setting contract may not even serve as a suitable baseline for them, as ESPN's Dan Graziano lays out.

So if Carr's contract did little more for upper-echelon quarterbacks than confirm for them where the market was already headed, then does it mean anything for someone like Jimmy Garoppolo? 

Carr and Garoppolo were both second-round picks in 2014, but from that point, they've obviously taken very different roads as pros. Carr started 47 consecutive games in his first three years and by last season he had established himself as one of the most valuable players in the league. Garoppolo, by comparison, has started two games. 

Both players still hold loads of promise, but unless Garoppolo sees substantial playing time in 2017 and then hits the open market, he won't approach Carr's deal when his rookie contract is up.  

ESPN's Mike Reiss projected that a fair deal for Garoppolo on the open market might fall between the $19 million that was guaranteed to Chicago's Mike Glennon and Carr's contract, which includes $40 million fully guaranteed and $70 million in total guarantees, per NFL Media.

Perhaps something in the range of what Brock Osweiler received from the Texans after Osweiler started seven games for the Broncos in 2015 would be considered fair: four years, with $37 million guaranteed. Because Osweiler (before his deal or since) never seemed as polished as Garoppolo was in his two games as a starter in 2016, and because the salary cap continues to soar, the argument could be made that Garoppolo deserves something even richer. 

Though Garoppolo is scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency following the 2017 season, there is a chance he doesn't get there quite that quickly. The Patriots could try to come to some kind of agreement with their backup quarterback on an extension that would keep him in New England, or they could place the franchise tag on him following the season. 

Either way, Garoppolo will get paid. But until he sees more time on the field, a deal that would pay him in the same range as his draft classmate will probably be out of reach.