Free Agency Review – WR

Now that the first week of free agency is nearing its end and most of the significant deals have been signed, I’d like to look at the new Wide Receivers contracts compared to their peers as well as each player’s past performance.

Alshon Jeffery: 1 year, $9.5M, $8.75M Guaranteed

Jason covered Jeffery in his podcast. If Jeffery had signed a contract with an APY of $13M or more, that wouldn’t have been a huge surprise. From 2013 through 2016, Jeffery’s production per 16 games was 85 receptions on 145 targets for 1,262 yards and 7 touchdowns. That level of production would put Jeffery in line for a long-term deal averaging at least $12M. Given that, Philadelphia is getting a great deal this year. If they franchise Jeffery for 2018, the two-year cost would be a total of around $25M, which would be a good value for a #1 receiver.

Terrelle Pryor: 1 year, $6M Fully Guaranteed, $2M additional incentives

In my 12/19/16 article regarding Pryor’s impending free agency, I concluded that Pryor would sign for 4 years and either $8M or $10M APY. That aligns with what was reportedly offered by the Browns and at least one other team (4 years, $32M). However, Pryor ended up in Washington on a 1 year, $6M deal that can become $8M with incentives. Some of Pryor’s production was undoubtedly due to the incredible usage he saw in Cleveland’s offense (140 targets compared to the next highest WR/TE at 82). If Pryor is able to carry over his success from Cleveland to Washington, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him sign for $10M+ APY next offseason.

Kenny Britt: 4 years, $32.5M, $10.5M Fully Guaranteed

Britt’s contract feels just about right. A receiver that produces around 70 receptions for 1,000 yards and 5 TDs is worth around $8M APY and Britt came in just above that. This contract has been compared to Pryor’s because this is the same contract that was reportedly offered to Pryor. While their 2016 seasons were substantially similar in production (68/1,002/5 for Britt, 77/1,007/4 for Pryor), Britt finally surpassed 800 yards receiving in his 8th year in the league compared to Pryor’s first full season as a receiver. If this was an outlier and Britt reverts to his prior 40+ reception, 700+ yard seasons from earlier in his career, the Browns will be overpaying by around $3M per year.

Kenny Stills: 4 years, $32M, $17M Fully Guaranteed

Even with Stills’ career best 9 TDs in 2016, this appears to be an overpayment. Stills is the designated deep threat in an offense that also needs to feed Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker, and now Julius Thomas. See the Pryor and Britt sections above regarding expectations on an $8M APY contract. Stills has totaled more than 750 yards once in 4 years, more than 42 receptions once, and more than 5 TDs once.

DeSean Jackson: 3 years, $33.5M, $20M Fully Guaranteed

Jackson’s $11.2M APY is the 9th highest among NFL wide receivers. While I would expect the average $11M receiver to total around 90 receptions for 1,100 yards and 8 TDs over a 16 game season, Jackson is unlikely to total 90 receptions or 8 TDs. Jackson is more of a deep threat than move the chains receiver, so his receptions totals will always be lower. With Brate and Evans in the same offense, Jackson is likely to be at best the 3rd option in the red zone. However, the deep threat that Jackson gives the offense will open up the intermediate range for other receivers to work, so I think this contract will end up being very good for Tampa Bay.

 

Pierre Garcon: 5 years, $47.5M, $20M Guaranteed, $17.5 Fully Guaranteed

At $9.5M APY, Garcon should be expected to total around 80 receptions for 1,000 yards and 6-8 TDs each season. In the past three seasons in Washington’s offense and with no games missed, Garcon averaged 73 receptions, 857 yards, and 4 TDs. He is now going to a team with no quarterback, a questionable offensive line, and no other receiving threats. While he provides veteran leadership and is familiar with Shanahan’s scheme, I think it will be hard for Garcon to provide a good return on this contract unless he is force fed targets the way Pryor was last year in Cleveland.

 

Torrey Smith: 3 years, $15M, $500K Guaranteed

This is really a 1 year, $5M deal with $500K guaranteed. At this price, Smith may not even make the roster. If Philadelphia drafts a deep threat wide receiver or isn’t pleased with Smith’s progress through training camp, the team would only incur $500K in dead money to cut him.

Robert Woods: 5 years, $39M, $15M Guaranteed

This contract has been criticized on every platform, so I’m not going to add much here. Wood’s best season was 2014 when he totaled 699 yards on 65 receptions and 5 TDs. That level of production should have landed Woods a contract in the $5M APY range, not the almost $8M that the Rams gave him.

Terrance Williams: 4 years, $17M

In my 2/10/17 article, I concluded that Williams would be offered too much by another team – around $7.4M APY – to be resigned by Dallas. Dallas getting Williams at just over $4M APY is a major victory. Even if Williams has hit his ceiling, I’m surprised his annual 40-50 receptions for 600-800 yards didn’t merit a larger contract.

Brandon Marshall: 2 years, $11M, $5M Fully Guaranteed

Brandon LaFell: 2 years, $9M, $3.3M Guaranteed

Ted Ginn: 3 years, $11M, $3M Guaranteed                 

Veteran #3 receiver contracts for established but aging (all 30+ years old) players. None are too cheap or too expensive.

  • Werner

    Charles, what’s your calculation on Jeffery with the Franchise Tag ? Wouldn’t he start at 120% for being franchised 2nd time around ?

    • Charles Crawford

      You’re right about the 120% since it’s his second tag – I forgot about that when I wrote the above post. This year’s WR tag was for $15.8M. Assuming that the tag doesn’t decrease for 2018 free agency, next year Jeffery would be in line for a tag of $18.96M. That would put his 2-year earnings at right around $28.5M. Antonio Brown is getting $29.1M in his first 2 years of his new contract. The other 5 $13M+ APY receivers got an average of $23.1M cash over two years.

      • Sorry guys Im late catching up on everything with all the free agency stuff, but the 120% rule is based on a prior year salary so for Alshon it would be 120% of his current contract not the tag value. So the 120% wont come into play for him it would just be the regular tag.

        • Charles Crawford

          So the 2nd tag is either 120% of prior year salary or regular tag, whichever is higher?

          I think Werner and I are confusing Jeffery’s situation with cases like Cousins’ 2017 tag where his prior year was also a tag.

  • Tony K

    You and everyone has ripped the Woods deal. I will take him at 4/6.5 mil over Britt at 4/10.5 mil every time. How you are making the case this is a horrible deal is completely beyond my comprehension. Dead money plays a factor. Rams can walk in the 5th year. So an option 5th at 8 mil, even better. I’ll double down on this one.

    • Charles Crawford

      I don’t think my 3 sentence summary ripped Woods or called the deal horrible. My point was that his past production merited a deal at most around the $5M range, not $8M. That’s an overpayment, but not like paying $15M instead of $5M. Agree with you that dead money is important, and LA doesn’t have any dead money after year 2. However, the $7M cap hit in year 1 and $8M cap hit in year 2 are too high for a player with Woods’ history. Woods has 3 100 yard games in 4 seasons and has never had a multi-TD game, so how high is his ceiling?