The Wide Receiver Market’s Evolution During Rookie-Scale Era

Jaylen Waddle‘s Dolphins extension includes a franchise record in guaranteed money. It also comes during an offseason in which Tyreek Hill has angled for an adjustment to his contract, which previously paced the NFL in wide receiver AAV — at $30MM per year.

Three players have passed that this offseason, a list that now includes Justin Jefferson, with a CeeDee Lamb extension on the radar in Dallas. The bar could be moved again before Week 1. Two years after Hill raised the WR contract ceiling during an eventful offseason for the position, this summer promises fireworks atop the market.

On that note, here is a look at where the WR market has climbed during the rookie-scale era, which has set a firm structure on when teams could negotiate with players. This is how the top wideout salary has evolved since the 2011 CBA was ratified:

August 20, 2011

The eventual 17-year veteran played four seasons on this deal before reworking it ahead of the 2015 season

March 14, 2012

The Hall of Fame talent pushed the receiver AAV bar to $16.21MM, finishing his career on this contract four seasons later

March 8, 2016

February 27, 2017

Brown played two seasons on this deal before being traded to the Raiders in March 2019

August 27, 2018

Beckham played four-plus seasons on this extension, being traded to the Browns in March 2019. Cleveland cut OBJ midway through the 2021 campaign.

July 31, 2019

Thomas spent four seasons on this contract, battling injuries before signing a reworked Saints deal in March 2023

September 7, 2019

Jones played out this contract, which the Falcons traded to the Titans in June 2021

September 8, 2020

Months after acquiring Hopkins via trade, the Cardinals added guaranteed money to the All-Pro’s through-2022 Texans extension. This pushed the position’s AAV ceiling to $27.25MM, which set up the 2022 offseason’s developments. Hopkins played three seasons on this deal, being released in May 2023.

March 17, 2022

March 23, 2022

April 24, 2024

April 25, 2024

June 3, 2024

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