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2022 NFL Free Agency: Did Davante Adams reset the wide receiver market after all?

Detroit, Michigan, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams (17) celebrates after a touchdown during the first quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

No, Davante Adams‘ contract with the Las Vegas Raiders didn't reset the wide receiver market after all — at least, not in the way he was reportedly attempting to over the last 12 months.

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The sticking point throughout negotiations was apparently how Adams and the Green Bay Packers chose to define “highest-paid” wide receiver. The benchmark agents and players use to measure themselves against their counterparts is average per year (APY). Nonetheless, as we’ll see throughout this article, this is an imperfect measuring stick for many reasons. 

For starters, when new free-agent contracts or extensions are reported, the figures that get shared are “new money” only, which means that if the player had money remaining on his existing contract, it typically gets folded into the new contract as “old money.” For example, if a player had a $10 million 2022 salary on the books heading into this offseason and signed a three-year, $100 million extension for 2023-2025, the $10 million for 2022 doesn’t disappear. The overall contract becomes a four-year, $110 million pact but only the new money of $100 million over three new years gets reported. 

This was the complication that arose from Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins’ two-year, $54.5 million extension after the Houston Texans traded him to Arizona. Hopkins’ extension added a fourth and fifth year onto his deal, maintaining the three years left on his Texans contract while giving him some upfront cash via a signing bonus and more assurances via guarantees. So, while the deal's new money average was $27.25 million, his full deal with the Cardinals is effectively five years, $94.415 million. 

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