Voluntary off-season workouts for teams started this week, and many notable players around the league have been absent. Two All-Pro players skipped workouts due to their current contract situations. San Diego Chargers safety, Eric Weddle, is entering the final year of his contract, and is eager to sign an extension. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown, believes he deserves a new contract that better reflects his value.
Eric Weddle said he feels highly disrespected by the Chargers. The veteran safety has played 99 percent of the defensive snaps the past four seasons, yet the Chargers have refused to discuss a new contract. After the 2011 lockout, Weddle resigned with the Chargers, agreeing to a 5-year, $40 million contract with $19 million fully guaranteed. The contract made Weddle the 2nd highest paid veteran safety, behind Troy Polamalu.
According to reports, Weddle is seeking an extension that compensates him in the range of the 3-4 highest paid safeties in the league. Excluding Eric Berry’s rookie contract, Weddle is currently the 5th highest paid safety in the NFL. It seems likely, that Weddle is pursuing an extension that pays him a higher average salary than Jairus Byrd at $8.75 million, but would settle for surpassing Dashon Goldson’s $8.25 million average.
Prior to signing his current contract, Weddle had yet to make a Pro Bowl. Since 2011, Weddle has made the Pro Bowl in three of the last four seasons, and has been the team’s most consistent defensive player. The Chargers, however, have been reluctant to discuss a new contract. Weddle will be 31 years old by next off-season, and the Chargers may decide to rebuild if they can’t convince Philip Rivers to remain with the team long-term. Weddle is scheduled to make $7.5 million this season, and it’s doubtful that he agrees to an extension with the Chargers anytime soon.
Antonio Brown on the other hand, has three years remaining on his contract. He is being paid just $6 million this season, and his $8.392 million average salary is 11th amongst wide receivers. After leading the league in receptions and receiving yards last season, it’s obvious that the Steelers are paying Brown at a bargain.
The Steelers are paying Brown an average salary of $7.65 million over the next three seasons. There is great risk for Brown to play out the rest of his contract since he is being severely undervalued, and there is no guaranteed salary remaining. All of his guaranteed salary was paid upfront, in the form of an $8.5 million signing bonus. Brown also isn’t eligible for free agency for another three seasons, and will be 30 years old as well.
When Brown signed his extension in the 2012 off-season, he had only recorded one 1000-yard season, and was the team’s second option at wide out behind Mike Wallace. He has posted career highs in receptions, yards, and touchdowns the past two seasons, and will only be 27 years old by the start of the season. It’s clear that Brown needs to capitalize on his recent production, and be compensated at a higher salary. The Steelers however, most likely will object to any contract demands, since he is entering the 3rd season of a 5-year extension. Despite having considerably more leverage, it will be interesting to see if the Steelers reward their star young player.