The Dallas Cowboys Dez Bryant and the Denver Broncos Demaryius Thomas were supposed to ink mind-blowing, cap-busting, guaranteed-dollar laden contracts when the NFL opened free agency earlier this week.
But both the Cowboys and Broncos employed the franchise tag and the hype proved anticlimactic with neither Bryant nor Thomas, but former Philadelphia Eagle turned Kansas City Chief Jeremy Maclin winding up with the biggest contract for a wide receiver this season.
Maclin inked a five-year, $55-million deal with $22.5 million guaranteed, just edging the deal Torrey Smith got from the San Francisco 49ers by $500,000.
The 26-year-old Maclin exploded for a career-best 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns off 85 receptions under head coach Chip Kelly’s offensive schemes, but evidently the seven-year veteran’s price tag was too high and he didn’t fit into the wild, and perhaps confusing, plans of the Eagles.
Nevertheless, Maclin cleaned up this offseason and rejoins former Eagles coach Andy Reid in Kansas City and gets paid handsomely.
However, it’s not like Bryant and Thomas were completed gipped. The franchise tag, which stops players from hitting the unrestricted free agent market and affords them a high-paying one-year salary, netted Bryant and Thomas $12.82 million. So next season they will both the second-highest paid receivers in the league, well behind Detroit Lions star Calvin Johnson and the $20.56 million he’s scheduled to make in total compensation.
Other guys not named Bryant or Thomas received big contracts. The Green Bay Packers kept Randall Cobb in town at the price of $40 million over four years, complete with a $13-million guaranteed signing bonus. And veteran and former All-Pro Houston Texans Andre Johnson snagged a three-year, $21-million deal with the Indianapolis Colts, $10 million of which is guaranteed.
There’s still several free agent wide receivers let on the market, and while they’re unlikely to net the same kind of seven-figure deals with oodles of guaranteed money, they can still help turn the tide for many teams.
Below are the deals already done, and the free agents who have yet to secure a new contract.
Signed Contracts Or Tagged
Dez Bryant (Franchise Tagged)
Randall Cobb (Re-signed 4-year, $40M deal with Green Bay)
Harry Douglas (Signed 3-year deal with Tennessee)
Marcus Easley (Re-signed 4-year, $7M deal with Buffalo)
Brandon Gibson (Signed 1-year, $825K deal with New England)
Ted Ginn (Signed 2-year, $4.2M deal with Carolina)
Brian Hartline (Signed 2-year, $6M deal with Cleveland)
Leonard Hankerson (Signed 1-year, $1M deal with Atlanta)
Dwayne Harris (Signed 5-year, $17.5M deal with New York Giants)
Andre Johnson (Signed 3-year, $21M deal with Indianapolis)
Jacoby Jones (Signed 2-year, $5.5M deal with San Diego)
Jeremy Maclin (Signed 5-year, $55M deal with Kansas City)
Eddie Royal (Signed 3-year, $15M deal with Chicago)
Torrey Smith (Signed 5-year, $40M deal with San Francisco)
Demaryius Thomas (Franchise Tagged)
Brian Tyms (Re-signed 1-year, $585,000 deal with New England)
Free Agent WRs Still Available
Kenny Britt (Britt is expected to re-sign with St. Louis)