NFL: The new market for wide receivers

The market situation for wide receivers has changed markedly, especially in this NFL offseason. Their importance has grown and it is now easier for some teams to give up any stars. The reasons for this are complex.

The 2022 offseason was unlike any other offseason in recent memory. The current offseason is marked by aggressive traits that were simply not known in the NFL.

And while it’s ultimately the quarterbacks and contracts that will be remembered because they have the biggest impact on the success – or failure – of any team, this offseason was particularly indicative of the consideration and evaluation of wide receivers.

Wide receiver has long been considered one of the premium positions, although the pay for such positions has not differed significantly from other positions. Broad receivers have been important players, especially over the past decade, as the passing game has become more prominent. More and more teams have understood that passes are simply more effective than the outdated focus on the running game.

And yet, the main focus was always on QB. As a result, quarterback salaries have risen sharply in recent years. A trend that has risen sharply since Patrick Mahomes’ contract was extended. When Mahomes signed his new ten-year contract with the Chiefs for $ 450 million (plus bonuses) in the summer of 2019, he set the standard. And most importantly, he opened the locks for other QBs in this league.

Mahomes was the first quarterback to average more than $ 40 million a year. Right now, there are seven QBs earning at least as much – Aaron Rodgers even cracked $ 50 million with his new deal in Green Bay. And with Lamar Jackson, Joe Burrow and Kyler Murray, the next members of this club are likely to follow soon.

NFL: The league’s paid quarterbacks

player team Total contract (dollars) Average salary (dollars)
Aaron Rodgers Packers 150,815,000 50,271,667
Deshaun Watson Texans 230,000,000 46,000,000
Patrick Mahomes chiefs 450,000,000 45,000,000
Josh Allen bills 258,034,000 43,005,667
Derek Carr Raiders 121,500,000 40,500,000
Dak Prescott cowboys 160,000,000 40,000,000
Matthew Stafford rams 160,000,000 40,000,000

NFL: No arguments against mega-contracts for top stars

The teams simply have no arguments against it, especially as the new TV contracts come into force in the coming year and the total turnover in the league will increase by several billion dollars.

But back to the wide receivers in this league, where a marked market change can now most recently be seen. In the last few years, a couple of broadband receivers have touched $ 100 million in total contract value. Amari Cooper even reached that with the Dallas Cowboys. He gets an average of $ 20 million a year for his ongoing contract – though now in Cleveland.

This summer, three recipients were added, earning at least $ 100 million in total – and Stefon Diggs received a total of $ 96 million as part of a contract extension with Bills.

Diggs now earns an average of $ 24 million a year and ranks fifth among wide receivers in current rankings. In front of him are Tyreek Hill ($ 30 million on average), Davante Adams ($ 28 million), DeAndre Hopkins ($ 27.25 million) and most recently AJ Brown ($ 25 million). What is striking here is that all of these players, including Diggs, did not sign these agreements with the team that originally drafted them. What’s more, with the exception of Diggs, the agreements came about largely immediately after a trade.

NFL: The league’s highest paid wide receivers

player team Total contract (dollars) Average salary (dollars)
Tyrek Hill dolphins 120,000,000 30,000,000
Davan Adams Raiders 140,000,000 28,000,000
by Andre Hopkins Cardinals 54,500,000 27,250,000
AJ Brown Eagles 100,000,000 25,000,000
Stephen Diggs bills 96,000,000 24,000,000

Top players typically do not enter the free agent market in the NFL unless someone does something wrong – or a player is desperate to leave. And so, even more than ever, the trading market is an important part of today’s NFL team building strategy.

And it’s not just since the Rams finally won the Super Bowl after ultra-aggressive trades. But this triumph underscores the idea that team building through the draft is probably no longer the undisputed best way.

NFL: Aggressive trades are coming into vogue

Aggressive trading is now becoming something of a fad, and as a result, this year separates the wheat from the chaff quite markedly, if you will. We are talking about teams that want to win with the proven best players in the league, and teams that seem to be happy to compete without having the absolute will to do everything in their power to get success.

Look at the teams that gave up their star receivers this spring. It all started with the Cowboys, who eventually abandoned their top receiver Cooper under the pretext of small cap spaces. Part of that was the still-absurd decision to make Zeke Elliott the highest paid running back in the NFL at the time – his 2022 cap hit is $ 18.2 million, a record for a running back. But we had already discussed this explanation in detail at the time.

And no matter how legitimate it may seem at first glance, it is ultimately hypocritical. For the truth is that cap space is just an excuse. If teams also want to find cap room, they can do that too. Be it with contract restructuring or invalid years with shorter new contracts. Or you get rid of inherited burdens. But too little cap space should never be an acceptable explanation for a team giving away its top player, especially for fans of a team.

The Cowboys were followed by the Chiefs with Hill, the Packers with Adams, and on the first day of the draft, the Titans with Brown. And especially the Brown deal showed very well what the team’s motivation was: It was about saving money – real money, not attic space!

NFL: Titans send AJ Brown to Philadelphia

The Titans sent what is probably their best offensive player, to Philly for a first-round pick. With the said pick, they then got a similar receiver type in the Treylon Burks, which will probably lower the quality significantly in the receiving corps compared to Brown. But so does he just Brown cost $ 16 million – a total of over the next four years – in return, Brown collected a signature bonus from the Eagles that is more than double.

The Titans opted for the cheaper option, which probably also means that their dominance in the AFC South is already a thing of the past after two division titles in a row – the Colts have upgraded well and who knows what the Texans and Jaguars will do in the current phase of their rebuilds.

The Chiefs did not want to pay Hill enough more than the Packers did Adams. And then they also chose the much cheaper route. However, it is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post. The Titans have Ryan Tannehill, whose potential successor they have just drafted in Malik Willis. And Tannehill’s contract could theoretically end relatively painlessly after the upcoming season.

This offseason results in the following status quo: In addition to quarterbacks – this year Wilson and Watson – wide receivers are now also a position where teams are very motivated to spend really great resources on absolute top people. Anyone who has not filled these positions with top-notch staff must make an effort to do so.

Leave a Comment