With NFL free agency fast approaching, players, their agents and the teams all begin the negotiating process by looking at other deals. Well, on Monday the Steelers blockbuster contract for star wide out Antonio Brown is an eye opener, for everyone. And don’t think for a second that it doesn’t have ramifications for the Buccaneers and the Dolphins and their receivers.
Brown, the top pass catcher in the NFL a year ago, got a four year extension that makes his new contract worth $68 million. This includes $19 million up front in a signing bonus and averages yearly at $17 million, making him the highest paid receiver in football.
While those numbers are well deserved, it just made it harder, especially for the Bucs to get a new deal for their stud wide receiver Mike Evans. Our Roy Cummings wrote previously this off season about trying to get him locked up long term and what it would take.
The good news in Tampa Bay, is that Evans will be entering his fourth season and the Bucs have his exclusive negotiating rights this off season and all the way until next year. Plus, the team has the leverage of picking up the fifth year option on his original deal. So, rest easy, Buc fans, he’s not going anywhere anytime soon.
More importantly, Tampa Bay has nearly $70 million on the 2017 cap at their disposal with free agency about to begin. The Evans pending new deal and an eventual new deal for QB Jameis Winston (which they can’t give him under the rookie rules until after this upcoming season at the minimum) are the two huge looming contracts for the team. And, they have allocated room to take care of it.
But, now along with defensive stars Gerald McCoy and LaVonte David’s large deals, those four contracts will eventually be a significant part of the Buccaneers yearly caps in the short term.
Meanwhile to the South, the Dolphins also have a wide receiver in Kenny Stills who is on the verge of becoming an unrestricted free agent on March 9th. He is a big play threat and led the Fins with 10 TDs a year ago. But, as Dolphin writer for the Miami Herald, Armando Salguero wrote Monday, Stills wants much more than what Miami may be willing to give.
We at F.F.I. would agree that it’s very remote that he can get anywhere close to $12 million a year from any team on the open market.
And even though Miami has a projected $43 million available, they obviously aren’t breaking the bank on Stills, especially with another outstanding receiver in Jarvis Landry on the team, who will also command and deserve huge money soon. And that huge money is, again dictated by the market, which now says top receivers are making $15, $16, $17 million a year.
And that takes us back Antonio Brown and the Steelers. They got their deal done before the free agency mayhem starts next week. And, now it’s everyone else’s turn.