Pay Day: NFL Wide Receivers Poised For Huge Contracts in the Near Future

Written by Mikey Ostrowski

I previously discussed which NFL running backs that I was expecting to see get paid within the next year or two. So naturally I’m going to have to examine the receivers next.

As I was doing my research for this, I learned a lot about the NFL and individual teams’ salary caps and I find it quite fascinating. Reading into each individual players’ salaries has been… surprising to say the least. Obviously you have your Antonios, NUKs, and Julios leading the charge with a RIDICULOUSLY large paycheck each year, but then you have guys like Pierre Garcon and Tavon Austin getting paid more than 98% of the rest of the NFL receivers and you sit there scratching your head as to why in the world some of these dudes get paid the way that they do. Not to take anything away from them, but I mean come on, those $40 million + contracts could be spent much better elsewhere.

Much like the RB list, there’s a few on here that should be obvious and a couple that you may not have thought of. So without further delay, let’s take a look at the five wide receivers I expect to get PAID.

Wide Receiver #1: Odell Beckham Jr.

Y’all knew Odell was going to be #1 on my list. Odell is currently playing in the 5th year option of his contract, which is worth just under $8.5 million. Without this 5th year option, Odell only made about $10 million over the first four years of his career. I don’t think I have to tell you this, but I’m going to anyway: Odell is a surefire, elite, studly WR1 that’s going to see something massive. Last year, DeAndre Hopkins became the highest paid receiver in the NFL, and although I don’t think Odell is quite as good as Nuk, he’s going to get a bigger contract than him… but will he be paid by the Giants? I ask this question purely for the fact that Dave Gettleman is now the GM of the Giants. I am a life-long Panthers fan, and watched from the sideline as that dreaded GM gave away good player after good player. Steve Smith, Josh Norman, Kelvin Benjamin… Hell even Tedd Ginn. And that’s just the thing: nobody is safe under Gettleman. Unless Odell is a top-3 receiver this year, I have a difficult time believing that Gettleman will be an easy negotiator in terms of his contract. Stay tuned on this one because I think it could get very interesting over the next year.

Wide Receiver #2: Mike Evans

Ahhhh yes, another obvious choice. Much like Odell, Evans will be playing 2018 under the 5th year option in his contract, making a whopping $13.2 million in this year alone. In 2014, he signed a 4-year, $14.6 million contract. Rightfully so, as he was the most highly sought-after receiver in the draft that year. However, unlike Beckham, he’s a surefire bet to stay put with his current team. Evans is young and talented and is playing with a young and talented QB in Jameis Winston. These two have developed a real chemistry over the years and there is virtually no scenario where Tampa Bay would part ways with one of them. I’d say Evans will have his contract worked out before the end of the 2018 season and it will be comparable to the one DeAndre Hopkins just signed. (Side note: The contract inflation in the NFL is getting absolutely ridiculous. I am genuinely getting scared that some day the NFL will have to fold due to its inability to keep up with all of these ridiculous contracts.) Let’s take a guess and say 4 more years for Evans at about $73 million. Yeah, I think that’ll work for him.

Wide Receiver #3: Tyreek Hill

Yes, I am fully aware that Hill still has two years left on his rookie contract. But, that rookie contract is worth less than $2.6 million. This guy does it all for the Chiefs: catches, runs, returns, blocks… dude’s probably gonna be counted as their 3rd string quarterback next year just because he can seemingly do everything. All jokes aside, I think Tyreek Hill is a phenomenal player in the NFL and will be more than deserving of a big contract when the time comes. This is a hard thing to predict, seeing that he probably won’t even enter contract negotiations until midway through the 2019 season, but do any of you doubt that he’s going to get PAID? He’s dominant. He’s fast. And he’s a whole hell of a lot of fun to watch play football. Kansas City has something special brewing over there and I know that they want Hill to be a long-term part of that. I will make note that there could be some issues on the horizon, as Hill does not have the 5th year option in his contract, but let’s be real. Hill’s a special player on a young team that’s on the rise… they’ll give him what he wants when the time comes.

Wide Receiver #4: Stefon Diggs

Admit it. When you first read that name you immediately re-watched the Minneapolis Miracle in your head. Ahh what a glorious moment that was. As a Panthers fan, nothing brought me more joy than watching New Orleans get knocked out of the playoffs in such stunning fashion. But I digress. Diggs is entering his final year of a 4-year contract worth only $2.5 million total. He may not be the most consistent player out there, but man that dude can ball out. In my opinion, Diggs could be thrown in the conversation as a top-10 receiver in the NFL today. In the past two seasons, he’s only reeled in 148 receptions for 1,752 yards and 11 touchdowns, but those numbers don’t really match his production. In week 1 of 2017, he had over 90 yards and two touchdowns. Two weeks later he had 173 yards for another 2 touchdowns. Unfortunately for Diggs, the emergence of Adam Thielen massively slowed down his quest for numbers. However, he still remained a constant threat, especially down the field. The Minneapolis Miracle will forever increase Diggs’ value, and there’s no doubting that Diggs does have true value in the NFL. It’ll be interesting to see how Minnesota treats him over the next year. I know that they’re going to want to re-sign him, but I’m not entirely convinced they’ll have the firepower to, especially if Thielen remains their WR1. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt though. I’m sure they’ll think of something to keep the star in Minnesota. I could see him landing a 3 to 4-year deal totaling up to at least $42 million… that could go even higher if he finally reaches his true potential in 2018.

Wide Receiver #5: Jamison Crowder

Call me crazy, but I think Crowder is a stud. To be completely honest, the entire receiving corps in Washington is underrated and incredibly talented. Crowder will be making $1.9 million in 2018 before he becomes an unrestricted free agent. But, I think he’s going to develop quick chemistry with Alex Smith and is going to stay around for quite some time. In what was a disappointing year for the Redskins, Crowder was targeted 5+ times in all but two games on the season. What’s more is that Crowder was the guy they would always call on in key situations. Washington has a ton of faith in him, and as long they can figure out their offense this offseason, he should see a much-expanded role in 2018.  But Washington may have a problem on their hands: he’ll be unrestricted at the end of the season. Crowder can test free agency if he really wants to, and the NFL knows (or should know by now) that Crowder has the potential to be a supreme and reliable talent in this league for years to come. So, since he may be highly sought after, Crowder might be able to leverage some bargaining power with his current team… Let me put it this way: If the Rams could have the nerve to give Tavon Austin a $40 million contract, I see no reason why Crowder couldn’t see something in the same ballpark.

I’m not an expert, but I’d like to think these five guys have about as good a chance as any in getting shiny new contracts over the next year or so. Evans and Odell should be seeing blockbuster contracts, while I think we could all agree that Diggs, Hill and Crowder all deserve a significant raise.

That’ll about wrap it up from me. If you missed my article on running backs looking to get paid, go give it a look!

OH! And if you’re obsessed with fantasy football like myself, check out my Way Too Early Fantasy Rankings for QBs, RBs, WRs, and TEs.

Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter and let me know who your PayDay Candidates are in the coming years. Until next time, friends.

Be sure to check out the latest episode of the Loaded Box Podcast where the guys previewed the offseason for those in the AFC South

Twitter:

@MikeyOstrowski

Contract details provided by spotrac

Mikey Ostrowski is a blogger for the Loaded Box Podcast.  Check out his article archive and find more from the Loaded Box on Twitter & Facebook

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