The past year was a profitable time for talented NFL wide receivers seeking new contracts.
The party cranked up March 12 when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Mike Evans raised the ceiling for elite wideouts with a five-year, $82.5 million contract. A couple of days later, Sammy Watkins leveraged interest from the Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears into a three-year, $48 million deal with the Kansas City Chiefs.
By the time Odell Beckham Jr. commanded a receiver-record $18 million per season from the New York Giants in August, NFL teams had signed 10 receivers to deals that spanned at least three seasons, averaged at least $8 million per year and included more than $14 million in guarantees. The bar had been raised more than once.
Twelve weeks isn't long enough to return final verdicts on these deals for Beckham, Evans, Brandin Cooks, Watkins, Jarvis Landry, Stefon Diggs, Allen Robinson, Tyler Lockett, Paul Richardson and Albert Wilson. Instead, I've placed these signings into four buckets reflecting how general managers should feel about their signings (click on any bucket to skip ahead to that section):
Bucket 1: GM can, with a straight face, brag about the deal to team ownership and anyone else at mythical cocktail parties.
Bucket 2: GM can say he would do the deal again, and the masses would nod in agreement.
Bucket 3: GM can credibly say he would do the deal again, but a jury of his peers might question the value.
Bucket 4: GM would prefer the subject not come up at this time; he'd rather listen to local talk radio following a defeat.