Extension Watch: Analysis of All NFL Contract Extensions This Week

It’s been a busy week for the NFL as far as extensions go. Let’s take a closer look at all the extensions, ranging from smaller ones like Seattle extended receiver Tyler Lockett to mega-deals like the Giants extending Odell Beckham Jr. and the Packers extending quarterback Aaron Rodgers. We’ll go in chronological order of when the extensions were announced

Giants Extend WR Odell Beckham Jr.

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On Monday, the Giants signed receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to a 5 year/$95 million extension with $65 million in guarantees, making the highest paid receiver of all time. The 25-year-old star receiver is coming off an ankle injury that robbed him of 11 games last season, but he had an unbelievable three-year stretch before that. Between 2014 and 2016, Beckham Jr. had 4122 receiving yards and 35 touchdowns. That means he averaged 1,374 yards and 12 touchdowns a season. For many receivers, that production resembles a peak season, but that’s simply what Beckham Jr. has been averaging. Even scarier for opposing teams, at just 25, Beckham Jr. is just getting started and should easily eclipse 1500 yards very soon. The money may be extreme, but if any team could afford to do it, it’s the Giants. For starters, there is no way that New York could’ve let Beckham Jr. go. He’s a fan favorite and easily their best player. At some point, the 37-year-old Eli Manning will retire, and the Giants have yet to draft his heir apparent. When they draft him, having Beckham Jr. as his main target will surely help his development. Plus, since the Giants at that point will be paying their quarterback on a rookie contract, so Beckham Jr.’s cap hit won’t even hurt them at all. So basically, the Giants will be paying the quarterback money to Beckham Jr. while paying the receiver money to the quarterback. Sure, this may hurt their financial flexibility as long as Manning is playing, but the Giants offense is now set up well for the future. The icing on the cake is that the receiver market keeps skyrocketing, so in 2-3 Beckham Jr. probably won’t be even a top 3 highest paid receiver once the likes of Julio Jones, Michael Thomas, Tyreek Hill, and AJ Green get new contracts. Overall, the Giants signed their best player in Odell Beckham Jr. to an affordable deal for them, a deal that may seem like a bargain in a few years. Grade: A

Bengals Extend DL Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap

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Short after Beckham Jr.’s extension, the Bengals signed defensive lineman Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap to sizable extensions.

Atkins, 30, signed a 4 year/$62.25 million extension. He had 9 sacks last season and made the Pro Bowl for his sixth straight full season. He is now the second highest paid defensive tackle (soon to be 3rd once Aaron Donald signs an extension) and was ranked the 4th best defensive interior by Pro Football Focus with a 90.7 grade, so the money is right around 30. Atkins’ contract expires at 34 when he probably will start to regress, so the Bengals don’t have to worry about this become a cap hit liability. With no replacement for Atkins, Cincy needed to keep him, and they did so at market value Grade: A-

Dunlap, 29, signed a 3 year/$45 million extension to remain with the Bengals through 2022. He had 7.5 sacks last season and was ranked the #31 edge defender by Pro Football Focus with a 77.5 grade in 2017. This extension makes him tied for the fifth highest paid defensive end and tied for the 11th highest paid defensive lineman. After a breakout season in 2015, where he had 13.5 sacks, Dunlap has just 15 sacks in the last two seasons. Plus, as a 4-3 defensive end that primarily relies on rushing the passer, Dunlap will probably start to regress even more soon. The Bengals drafted defensive end Sam Hubbard in the third round in the NFL draft this offseason, who some would argue had 1st round talent. Going with Hubbard after this season would’ve saved Cincinnati a lot of money, as Hubbard’s rookie contract means his cap hit will hit a maximum of $1.06 million in 2021. The Bengals have a lot more pressing needs, such as offensive line, receiver, and safety that they would have used the money to fix instead of paying a regressing defensive end who was expendable. Grade: D

Seahawks Extend WR Tyler Lockett

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On Tuesday, the Seahawks signed receiver Tyler Lockett to a three year/$31.8 million extension. Lockett, 25, had 555 receiving yards, 2 touchdowns, and a 63.4% catch rate in 2017. He also had 1,186 yards as kick/punt returner with a kick return touchdown a season ago. This deal makes him the 21st highest paid receiver in football, which is strange since he was ranked the 60th best receiver a year ago by Pro Football Focus with a 67.3 grade. Yes, Lockett brings some value as a returner, but he has constantly regressed as a receiver since having 664 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns in 2015. Considering receivers with similar track records to Lockett, Paul Richardson and John Brown didn’t get close to Lockett’s $10.6 million a year, it’s puzzling that Seattle was in such a hurry to overpay for an average receiver at best. Lockett is more of a special teams guy and a #3 receiver at best. However, Seattle is paying him elite #2 receiver money. Grade: F

Packers Extend QB Aaron Rodgers

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Later on Tuesday, the Packers and Aaron Rodgers shook the football world when they agreed on a massive 4 year/$134 million extension with $103M in guarantees. Rodgers, 34, was limited to 7 games with a broken collarbone, but he is still one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game of football. He had 4428 passing yards with 40 touchdowns and just 7 interceptions in 2016 and has an excellent 313-78 career touchdown-interception. He hasn’t had a losing record since his first year as a starter in 2008 and has a career 103.8 Quarterback Rating. He had also been to eight straight playoffs before last year, and a career 99.4 Quarterback Rating and 262.2 yards per game in the playoffs. This contract is the biggest contract in history so some may question if a 34-year-old Rodgers is worth such a substantial investment. The answer? Absolutely. Without Rodgers, Green Bay won’t be able to ever compete for a Super Bowl. Their lackluster roster outside of Rodgers got exposed last year when Rodgers got hurt, and it really proves his greatness that Rogers has been able to carry such lackluster rosters to eight straight playoff runs and a Super Bowl victory. With a new and improved young secondary and some new faces at receiver, Green Bay has set themselves up for a four to five-year window of contention before they have to give those young players raises. Who better to help them capitalize on that window that arguably the most talented quarterback ever? Lastly, with a rapidly increasing quarterback market, there is a chance that Rodgers isn’t anywhere close to the highest paid quarterback during the later stages of this extension. Remember, Rodgers signed the same type of deal (highest QB contract of all time) in 2013, and by 2018 he was so underpaid that the two sides had to agree to a new deal despite still having two years left on his contract. Expect the same thing to happen this time around. Grade: A+

Rams Extend DT Aaron Donald

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The Rams have signed defensive tackle Aaron Donald to a six-year, $135 million extension with $87 million in guarantees. This deal won’t come into effect until 2019, so Donald will still be under his rookie contract for this season. Donald, 27, had 11 sacks a season ago while winning the defensive player of the year award and making his 3rd all Pro Team and 4th Pro Bowl in just a four-year career. He is now the highest paid defensive player of all time. $22.5 million for a non-quarterback is a substantial amount, but if anyone is worth it, it’s Donald. The 27-year-old was ranked the number one interior defensive lineman with a 94.4 grade. Donald is also a very balanced defensive lineman, as he is excellent in pass rush and stopping the run. For the Rams to have any chance to win right now, they needed him wrecking havoc on the defensive line and this seemed to be the only way to keep him from holding out. It’s unclear how they will be able to re-sign cornerback Marcus Peters or quarterback Jared Goff, but it’s clear that the Rams have a plan and they should be trusted to execute on that plan. Grade: B