I think most are aware by now of the particulars of Riley Cooper’s $22.5 million extension with the Eagles. Cooper received a $4 million signing bonus, a fully guaranteed $1 million salary in 2014, and $3 million of fully guaranteed salary in 2015. He can earn an additional $1 million in fully guaranteed salary in 2015 and in 2016 by being on the roster the 5th day of each respective League Year. He can also earn up to $2.5 million in escalators based on performance.
To me what is more interesting about the deal is what this might say about the receiver market. The contract itself is very team friendly. In essence this is a two year $9 million contract where Cooper has to prove he belongs as a secondary target. In terms of annual value Cooper ranks well behind Brian Hartline ($6 million) and Danny Amendola ($5.7 million) the two who seemed to be the standard bearers for the secondary WR’s last year. His guarantees are about what Amendola received.
There is little upside in the contract for Cooper outside of avoiding the uncertainty of free agency. If he develops into a better receiver he will be locked into tier two money for the next five years. If this is the type of contract that the Eagles are offering Jeremy Maclin it would explain why Maclin would prefer taking a prove it type of contract from Philadelphia or another team.
For players such as Golden Tate and Emmanuel Sanders, who are free agents this year, the Cooper contract does little to give confidence that they can move past Hartline in terms of contract value in free agency. Despite the rumored increase in cap room he came towards the lower end of the WR2 marketplace. Odds are that’s a sign of how most teams will be viewing these players when free agency begins.
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.