There’s big news today in the world of NFL contracts. Former Miami Dolphins and current Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry just signed a monster 5-year, $75.5 million extension, making him the 5th-highest paid wide receiver in the league.
Landry will make an average of $15.1 million per year in Cleveland, which is a lot of money for a slot receiver, but simply follows the trend of rising receiver costs around the league.
This new deal for Landry just reinforces my previous argument that the Patriots should start drafting receivers again because it’s now impossible to get a second-tier receiver for less than $8 million per year unless they’re acquired via trade or are coming off a major injury.
Landry’s deal stuck out to me because of how little the Patriots are paying for their receivers in 2018. With the jettisoning of Brandin Cooks, the Patriots receiver with the highest cap hit in 2018 is Julian Edelman at $4.17 million. He’s followed by Chris Hogan ($3.28 million) and Cordarrelle Patterson ($3.25 million).
In fact, if you add up the cap hits of all the Patriots wide receivers- Edelman, Hogan, Patterson, Phillip Dorsett, Kenny Britt, Jordan Matthews, Malcolm Mitchell, Cody Hollister, and Riley McCarron (I’m not including special teams ace Matthew Slater)- the combined cap hit of the team’s entire wide receiver corps is $16.45 million.
And since we can all agree that not all of those players will make the team- over the past decade, the Patriots have averaged five non-Slater receivers on the team- that means the actual cap hit of the Patriots receivers in 2018 will be less than $16.45 million.
If the Patriots keep the five most expensive receivers (Edelman, Hogan, Patterson, Dorsett, Britt), their combined cap hit would be $13.71 million. Even if they add a sixth receiver and factor in dead cap space for the released receivers, it would be less than the $15.1 million that Landry will average over the next five years.
So that’s what New England is up against in the free agent market. They’re battling teams that are capable of paying players more money than the Patriots are spending on their entire positional group. That’s why it’s time for Bill Belichick and the front office to find another way of obtaining top receiving talent on cheap contracts- and that means going back to the draft.