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Evaluating the wide receiver market explosion during the 2022 NFL offseason

Miami Gardens, Florida, US; Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) runs with the ball during training camp at Baptist Health Training Complex. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

• The top of the wide receiver market grew by 26.2% from 2021 to 2022 — the sixth-highest increase among 117 positional cases since 2013.

Tyreek Hill ($30M per year), Davante Adams ($28M per year) and Cooper Kupp ($26.7M per year) signed the biggest deals among wide receivers during the 2022 offseason.

• Click to read more about extensions for D.K. Metcalf, Deebo Samuel, Terry McLaurin, Diontae Johnson and Hunter Renfrow.

With the Week 1 NFL slate still a month away, every big-name wide receiver looking for an extension this offseason has now signed a new deal.

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson was the last to end his hold-in after inking a two-year, $36.7 million pact. In all, 11 wide receivers signed multi-year contracts for $20 million or more in average annual value this offseason, with another three signing for $18-plus million. How unprecedented is a position market explosion of this magnitude?

We wanted to take a look back at the year-over-year growth of each position market over time to examine just how historically unparalleled this offseason’s wide receiver market has been. We track the growth in average per year, full guarantees at signing and total guarantees (includes injury guarantees and vested guarantees), among other contract metrics for every player in every season dating back as far as Over the Cap has comprehensive data. For our purposes, we look at position market growth by analyzing the average per year (APY) on multi-year contracts for the top five players at each position.

For example, let’s say the top five players at X position in 2021 had the below APYs:

  • $20,000,000
  • $19,000,000
  • $18,000,000
  • $17,000,000
  • $16,000,000

The top-five APY at X position is thus $18 million ($90,000,000 / 5 = $18,000,000).

Then in 2022, the top five players at X position earn the following APYs:

  • $23,000,000
  • $22,000,000
  • $20,000,000
  • $19,000,000
  • $19,000,000

The top-five APY is now $20.6 million ($103,000,000 / 5 = $20,600,000).

X position market therefore grew by 14.44% in the 2022 offseason ($20,600,000 / $18,000,000).

There are, of course, limitations to APY, but agents/players and clubs (to a degree) use it to measure players against one another within the position market. Because we’re discussing the wide receiver market, it’s important to point out that the top three current contracts in terms of APY — Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill ($30M), Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver ($28M) and DeAndre Hopkins ($27.25M) — are backloaded to varying degrees to inflate the APY. Nevertheless, the issue exists with many contracts across the NFL, and we don’t adjust at any position, so the inflation affects every market.


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