It seems like just yesterday DeSean Jackson's contract was a big topic of conversation. Ok – that's technically because it was. Jackson's comments about being deserving of a new contract hit the airwaves just this week, in the wake of Philadelphia's 26-24 playoff loss to New Orleans. Prior to that, though, it had only been two years since Jackson's latest hub-bub about money – the one that led to a holdout in 2011.
I'm not really interested in dissecting Jackson's worth as a receiver, especially since he has recently backtracked on his comments about wanting a new contract. He is currently playing out the ninth-most valuable receiver contract in the NFL, worth a grand total of $48.5 million over five years.
It does raise some pertinent questions for the Cowboys, however – particularly about that big dude wearing No. 88, who is due for a payday in the near future.
Dez Bryant's rookie contract is set to expire after the 2014 season. Popular opinion would have the Cowboys re-sign him this offseason, assuming they can afford it, and avoid the risk of letting him hit the open market.
That would be an incredibly smart decision, in my opinion, just as a measure of securing the team's best offensive weapon for the longterm. But the Cowboys are doubtful to save any money on Dez if Jackson's 82-catch, 1300-yard season is enough to warrant a bigger contract.
I took the liberty of checking out the 10 biggest receiver contracts in the NFL as of right now. The results were honestly pretty shocking.
As you might imagine, Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald are on a level all their own. The duo is playing out a pair of mega-contracts, worth $113.5 million and $113 million, respectively. Andre Johnson, who has seemingly been reliable for 100 catches and 1,000-plus yards for a decade now, is the next closest guy, with a contract worth $67.8 million.
The rest of the top 10 has produced some stunningly inconsistent earners. The Cowboys themselves boast one of them. Miles Austin is currently playing out a contract worth $54.1 million, despite tallying just 90 catches for 1,187 yards and six touchdowns in the past two seasons.
Percy Harvin, currently playing on the fourth-most valuable contract at the position, has managed 150 catches for 1,660 yards and nine touchdowns since 2011. He has caught just one pass for 17 yards since Minnesota traded him to Seattle ahead of the 2013 season, though he could still potentially play in this postseason.
Now, let's take a look at Dez, who is facing the last season of the five-year, $11.8 million deal he signed when the Cowboys drafted him at the tail end of the first round in 2010.
In the last two seasons alone, Dez has tallied 185 catches for 2,615 yards and a whopping 25 touchdowns. And, it's worth pointing out, he's done this for a middling NFL team.
That's 58 more catches, 583 more yards and 14 more touchdowns than Jackson has produced in the same timespan. [embedded_ad]
In fact, look at the past two years of production by any of the league's highest-paid receiver, and Dez's numbers stack up favorably.
Only the two Johnsons, Calvin and Andre, have posted more yardage in the past two years, and none of the league's best-paid receivers have come close to Dez's touchdown totals.
Not even Megatron, who's scored 17.
The more comparable numbers come from fellow youngsters. A.J. Green, whose rookie contract also expires after the 2014 season, has posted 2,776 yards and 22 touchdowns the past two years. Denver's Demaryius Thomas, another 2015 free agent, is sitting on 2,864 yards and 24 touchdowns.
I'd also be remiss to leave veteran Brandon Marshall, whose four-year, $44.7 million contract, initially signed with Miami, expires after 2014. Marshall's second outstanding season in Chicago leaves him with 218 catches for 2,803 yards and 23 touchdowns in the past two seasons.
Clearly, there's a new class of receiver set to join the NFL's elite wage-winners. I'm not sure if DeSean Jackson ranks among them – not based on body of work. But Dez Bryant definitely does.