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High-priced wide receivers

Do stars prove worth their contracts?

We've been talking a lot about running backs lately; whether they're worth big money or not. A friend sent me a meme joking the argument against big contracts for running backs is LeVeon Bell, Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliott (who got paid, then struggled). I wondered how star wide receivers have fared.

Different ways to do this, but what I went with was using to look at the highest-paid wide receivers in the league (based on average annual salary) and see how they fared the season after they signed their big deals. Did those players go on to live up to those huge contracts, or were they more like Bell with the Jets and Gurley with the Rams?

I came up with 32 wide receivers currently playing on contracts averaging at least $10 million per season. Four of those players just signed those deals this offseason, so it remains to be seen how they'll fare. But the other 28 all signed their deals between 2018-2022. How did they fare the season after signing those deals?

Like many things, it seems to be about a 50-50 proposition.

Of the 28 players, about half (13) at least ranked in the top 17 (PPR) at their position a year later. I'll concede, if you're playing a guy $15-$20 million a year, you want them to be at least that good and probably better. But in general, those guys were pretty good. Twelve of the 13 went over 1,000 receiving yards the year after getting paid. Seven of them caught at least 8 TDs.

A quarter of the 28 wideouts (7) ranked in the top 12 at the position. That includes the 2-3-4-5 PPR wideouts a year ago: Tyreek Hill, Davante Adams, Stefon Diggs and A.J. Brown. Those teams aren't regretting the contracts they handed out last offseason.

The glass is half-empty view would be that just under half (12) of those players did not finish in the top 30 at the position that next season; disappointing for guys making that kind of money. Eight of them didn't even make it into the top 50. That includes a bunch of guys who got paid last offseason: Russell Gage, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Michael Gallup, Allen Robinson, Hunter Renfrow and Tim Patrick. Some of those contracts looks bad at the time they were signed, and that's how some of them played out.

Table shows the top 32 wideouts in the league based on average annual salary, sorted by their finish in PPR leagues one year later.

Tyreek Hill, Mia.$30M2022119171072
Davante Adams, L.V.$28M20221001516143
Stefon Diggs, Buff.$24M20221081429114
A.J. Brown, Phil.$25M2022881496115
Mike Evans, T.B.$16.5M201886152489
Keenan Allen, LAC$20M2020100992812
Christian Kirk, Jac.$18M2022841108812
DK Metcalf, Sea.$24M2022901048614
Amari Cooper, Dall.$20M2020921114515
Terry McLaurin, Was.$22.8M2022771191516
Tyler Lockett, Sea.$17.2M2021731175816
Chris Godwin, T.B.$20M20221041023317
Tyler Boyd, Cin.$10.8M2019901046517
Cooper Kupp, LAR$26.7M202275812623
DJ Moore, Car.$20.6M202263888725
Diontae Johnson, Pitt.$18.3M202286882030
Mike Williams, LAC$20M202263895433
Deebo Samuel, S.F.$23.9M202256632236
Courtland Sutton, Den.$15.2M202158776244
Brandin Cooks, Hou.$19.8M202257699349
Russell Gage, T.B.$10M202251426553
Marquez Valdes-Scantling, K.C.$10M202242687254
Michael Gallup, Dall.$11.5M202239424468
Corey Davis, NYJ$12.5M202134492469
Allen Robinson, LAR$15.5M202233339385
Hunter Renfrow, L.V.$16.1M202236330292
Curtis Samuel, Was.$11.5M20216270180
Tim Patrick, Den.$11.3M2022Inj.
Odell Beckham, Balt.$15M2023????????????
DeAndre Hopkins, Ten.$13M2023????????????
Allen Lazard, NYJ$11M2023????????????
Jakobi Meyers, L.V.$11M2023????????????

--Andy Richardson

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