Over the past three months, the NFL has seen an incredible number of star players switch teams in one of the busiest offseasons in league history. Pressing the reset button, the Seahawks were at the forefront of the mayhem, shockingly trading quarterback Russell Wilson to the Broncos and releasing All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner in March.
But while Wilson’s move to Mile High City may stand out as the most significant addition made by any team this spring, this offseason has truly been defined by an unprecedented move coupled with skyrocketing contracts for the superstar receivers.
The madness began when the Packers couldn’t agree with Davante Adams on a new contract, forcing them to trade him to the Raiders in a rare sign-and-trade deal. Shortly after, the Chiefs shipped Tyreek Hill to the Dolphins, who gave him a record extension that topped Adams’ deal. Then, in the 2022 NFL Draft, the Titans stunned the football world by sending AJ Brown to the Eagles, who quickly signed him for a monster extension.
On the heels of Adams and Hill’s trades, given the skyrocketing cost of elite receivers and the state of the team’s rebuild minus Wilson and Wagner, speculation over DK’s future Metcalf in Seattle ensued. As the young star entered the final year of his rookie contract, many wondered if a trade like the one Tennessee finally made with Brown would come to fruition come draft weekend.
However, the Seahawks never entertained the idea of trading Metcalf, who showed up for the start of the team’s offseason program on April 18 despite his contract situation. While rehab after offseason foot surgery has limited what he can do on the court so far, he has already taken on an expanded leadership role and has publicly stated he wants to stay in Seattle for the long term. .
Although coach Pete Carroll didn’t offer much information about talks with Metcalf after the draft ended, he made it clear that Seattle plans to ramp up negotiations in the coming weeks to work toward an extension. several years in the hope of doing something in the near future. .
“We’ll throw it in John [Schneider]’s short here in the coming weeks and everything, but we’re communicating really, really well,” Carroll said. And DK, we’ve been a great wavelength moving forward and hopefully it all works out. We don’t plan for him to go anywhere else, we want him to be with us.”
With the Seahawks opting to build around Metcalf as a building block for their next playoff contender and have “laid the groundwork” for an expansion according to NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport, Schneider and the front office will have to back up. the Brinks truck for the VMAC to pay star wideout market value. Looking at other contracts signed by players like Adams and Hill this offseason, what might such an extension look like?
The first Domino to fall at receiver this offseason, Adams told the Packers he would not sign a new contract to stay in Green Bay, preferring to join former Fresno State teammate Derek Carr with the Raiders. The two sides were able to reach a deal with the Packers receiving first- and second-round picks in exchange for the two-time All-Pro, who agreed to a five-year, $140 million deal as part of the trade deal.
Under the terms of the agreement, Adams received $22.75 million in comprehensive guarantees and $65.67 million in injury guarantees as well as a signing bonus of $19.25 million. Immediately upon signing, his 2022 base salary became guaranteed and if he is on the roster in March 2023, his 2023 and 2024 base salaries and 2023 bonus of $20 million will all be guaranteed. To sweeten the pot, the Raiders added annual per-game bonuses, practice bonuses and $1.25 million in Pro Bowl incentives.
While Hill didn’t force his way out of Kansas City, the cap-strapped Chiefs couldn’t afford to hold him back and worked with multiple teams on a potential trade, eventually selling him to the Dolphins, who parted ways. with a first, second, and fourth-round pick to acquire the first-team All-Pro triple. As part of the deal, he signed a four-year, $120 million extension, making him the highest-paid receiver in the NFL.
Analyzing Hill’s recording contract, the fast receiver didn’t just earn the highest annual salary for his position. Desperate for a gun on the outside, Miami gave him $53.535 million fully guaranteed — his 2022 and 2023 salaries — and $72.2 million in injury guarantees. If he is on the roster on day five of the league’s new year, his 2024 salary will become fully guaranteed.
What makes Hill’s contract a little different, however, is that the Dolphins added a final year to the contract that functions as a blank year with a base of $43.9 million and a modest cap of 5.1. millions of dollars. By then he will be 32, so the team could move on or sign him to a new contract to lower his cap.
Before the Titans upset the first round of the draft by dropping Brown, Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs took full advantage of the spending spree for top receivers by signing his own four-year, $96 million extension. Although he didn’t earn as high an annual salary as Hill and Adams, his contract paid out $70 million in guarantees, including $47.985 million guaranteed at signing. It also added a guaranteed option premium of $16 million in 2023 with zero years in 2027 and 2028 to lower caps.
As for Brown, while the Titans were apparently unwilling to eclipse $20 million a year to extend him, the Eagles were more than happy to pay him top dollar. After trading a first- and third-round pick to acquire him, they signed him to a four-year, $100 million extension with $40 million guaranteed at signing and $57.22 million in total guarantees. . His salary for the first two years of the extension is guaranteed along with $3.779 million of his 2024 salary.
If Brown remains on the roster on day three of the 2023 league year, the remainder of his 2024 salary becomes guaranteed, including coaching and roster bonuses. To help mitigate salary cap charges over the life of his contract, Philadelphia added two blank years in 2027 and 2018.
Looking for commonalities between those contracts, the Raiders, Dolphins, Bills and Eagles all shelled out huge guaranteed salaries, including fully guaranteed salaries for multiple seasons. Each player also received a signing bonus of at least $19.5 million. As Hill and Brown’s chords illustrate, zero years also remain in vogue to some degree.
What do these deals mean for Metcalf and the Seahawks as they try to find their own extension? Comparing contracts can be like comparing apples to oranges, especially in this case.
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With just one season of over 1,000 receiving yards on his resume and only one All-Pro selection, Metcalf hasn’t posted numbers as showy as Hill, Adams or Diggs. From a production perspective, Seattle could potentially argue that he didn’t quite make $28 million a year as one of the top three earners in his position.
But at the same time, the 6-foot-3, 228-pound Metcalf just turned 24 in December and remains a rising superstar. According to Pro Football Reference, he is one of only five players in NFL history to produce 3,100 receiving yards, 200 receptions and 29 receiving touchdowns in his first three seasons. With this achievement, he is in the exclusive company of the likes of Hall of Famers Randy Moss and Jerry Rice.
Metcalf has also already made history in Seattle, breaking Steve Largent’s single-season receiving yardage record in 2020. He also ranks first in the franchise record books for receiving yards and receptions. in his first three seasons, while trailing only Daryl Turner in touchdowns.
Given his youth, rare physical talents and impressive numbers to start his career, Metcalf and his agent are expected to push for a four-year deal worth between $100 million and $120 million and north of $70 million in guarantees. In other words, a deal between what the Eagles have paid Brown annually and the two major contracts Adams and Hill signed should be perfect for both parties.
Based on how Seattle generally conducts business, one would expect Metcalf’s contract to be more like Brown’s deal in terms of structure with deferred pay. But with Wilson’s contract coming off the books next year, Schneider might be more willing to offer more guaranteed money up front.
Regardless of how guaranteed money, signing bonuses and roster bonuses shake out when pen meets paper, the Seahawks shouldn’t hesitate to pay Metcalf. Despite earning such a lucrative deal with his sensational play over the past three years, even with a demotion to quarterback, he plans to only improve in the coming seasons as a center point. of their attack and the expected future production is well worth the investment. .