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How Michael Thomas’ record-breaking contract impacts future deals for star receivers

The wide receiver market has continued to rise in the NFL with the league becoming more pass-friendly. Michael Thomas’ new deal has elevated the asking price for star receivers moving forward.

On July 31st, the New Orleans Saints signed Thomas to a groundbreaking deal worth $100 million over five years.

The extension also includes $61 million in guaranteed money—the most in NFL history from a non-quarterback.

So how will Thomas’ record-breaking contract impact future deals for star receivers? It’s quite simple really. There’s a demand for premier pass-catchers in the NFL right now as teams are throwing it more than ever.

Michael Thomas, Saints

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

That means that teams are making it a priority to maintain their best receivers at premium prices. As a result, the wide receiver market is continuing to grow at a rapid rate. For instance, in 2016, the highest-paid wide receiver was Demaryius Thomas of the Denver Broncos.

That season, Demaryius made $13 million in base salary. Aside from him, there were only two other receivers who were commanding more than $10 million in salary.

Now, in 2019, there are 13 wide receivers who are set to make at least $10 million in salary. And for the time being, there are 15 receivers who are expected to make $10 million in salary in 2020. That number will likely continue to rise in the next few seasons.

Now that Thomas has gotten his contract, all of the focus will shift to the other star wideouts who are hoping for long-term contracts with their current teams. Julio Jones, Amari Cooper, and Tyreek Hill are all in the talking stages of their future contracts.

Undoubtedly, Thomas’ new extension will come up in the conversations for those receivers. And why shouldn’t it? Wide receivers are trying to increase their market—not begin a spiral downward in their market.

Therefore, the future contracts for the star wideouts in need of deals could see a slight increase from Thomas’ contract. All of the wide receivers that were named above should thank Thomas ahead of time.

For Thomas, he decided to go the route of holding out of training camp to land his lucrative contract. As for Jones, Cooper, and Hill, they all showed up to training camp while diving further into contract talks simultaneously.

Julio Jones, Falcons


Among those guys, Cooper may have the hardest route to getting a deal that is more expensive than Thomas’. This is due to the Dallas Cowboys also needing to hash out money to Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott. Elliott is already holding out of training camp right now with two years left on his deal.

Over recent seasons, wide receivers have gradually been getting richer contracts. Most notably, guys like Odell Beckham Jr., Antonio Brown, Mike Evans, and Brandin Cooks have all signed long-term extensions recently.

Earlier this offseason, Brown was able to maneuver a new contract with the Oakland Raiders after he was traded from the Pittsburgh Steelers. It’s unusual for a receiver—or any position—to be able to completely scrap their current deal and demand what they want.

Occurrences like that are what helps the market see a continual flow upward. Now, Thomas’ deal even furthers the asking price for the wide receivers in the NFL.

On the field, football is an ultra-competitive sport. And off of the field, football is an ultra-competitive business where guys want to get paid more than their adversaries.

As a result, we should continue to see the wide receiver market expand—due to Thomas’ new contract with the Saints.

The current wide receiver market is—as Hall of Fame wideout Randy Moss would say—straight cash homie.