The Cowboys are in a race, and the season hasn’t even started yet. It’s a race to sign star receiver CeeDee Lamb before the market gets reset. If they win the race, the deal will be based on a market currently capped at $30 million per season by the Miami Dolphins’ Tyreek Hill. If they lose the race, they likely deal with an expanded market where the ceiling well exceeds that amount.
Justin Jefferson, the Minnesota Vikings’ star target, also seeks a new deal. Since joining the NFL, Jefferson has been, by most accounts, the most productive WR in the league.
Both players are entering their fourth season in the league and even though both had their fifth-year options picked up, both are currently negotiating long-term deals to stay with their respective franchises.
The Vikings will surely make Jefferson the highest paid WR in NFL history, and Jefferson said getting a "Life-altering" second contract – "A… pic.twitter.com/n0fG3jmcoV
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) August 28, 2023
Jefferson is expected to reset the market at the WR position. He knows it. The Vikings know it. And the NFL knows it. The question isn’t if he resets the market, it’s by how much. Which explains why Lamb’s camp may not be eager to jump the gun and agree to a new deal before they see the new parameters of the WR market.
That’s the hurdle the Cowboys must find a way to overcome. They can’t make a deal without Lamb’s participation and Lamb’s side seems incentivized to see how the Jefferson market plays out.
To make him play ball, the Cowboys may have to blow Lamb out of the water with their offer.
As discussed with previous Dak Prescott and Trevon Digg’s contract articles, overpaying today is often cheaper than getting a good deal tomorrow. Markets inevitably rise year over year and the latest norms of today seemed absurd just a few months prior.
Is Lamb better than Hill, the NFL’s highest-paid WR? Not yet, but Lamb is five years younger with his best seasons ahead of him. The same can’t be said for most of the other names who populate the highest-paid list. In fact, of the top-30 highest-paid WRs (based on average annual compensation), the youngest of the bunch is 26-years-old with many knocking at the door to 30.
A look at the NFL’s highest paid WRs in the NFL today per OTC. pic.twitter.com/Z1VUcukQmP
— Reid D Hanson (@ReidDHanson) August 31, 2023
At 24-years-old, Lamb is clearly on his physical ascent. He has progressed every year he’s been in the league and the Cowboys are expecting another leap in 2023. He’s exactly the type of player Dallas wants to invest in.
Another fun fact about the list of top earners is many of them are represented by the same agency Lambs is. An agency the Cowboys have struggled to work with over the years.
CAA Sports (which employes Prescott’s agent, Todd France) represents four of the top-11 WRs on the highest-paid list. They know the cost of doing business goes up each day and will need convincing to accept a deal before Jefferson.
Even if it means rivaling Hill’s enormous contract, it will likely be cheaper for the Cowboys than waiting until Jefferson’s new deal gets finalized.
Dallas may need to compromise on the length and guarantees to get him to the table early. Negotiations rarely go perfectly. But it behooves the Cowboys to beat Jefferson and the Vikings.
The race is on.
An offer for Cowboys fans
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