The tight end market has been completely reset this week, which has to be music to Mark Andrews’ ears.
The San Francisco 49ers first gave tight end George Kittle a five-year extension worth $75 million. Then the Kansas City Chiefs gave tight end Travis Kelce a four-year extension worth $57.25 million. Though Andrews is two years away from being an unrestricted free agent and a year away from an extension even being possible, the bar has been set for what top tight ends earn, of which Andrews is on the precipice of becoming.
Andrews had an outstanding 2019 season campaign that wrapped with his first Pro Bowl nomination. He led the Ravens in all major receiving categories, catching 64 passes for 852 yards and 10 touchdowns. Andrews ranked seventh among all tight ends in receptions, fifth in yards, and first in touchdown receptions last season. With another year at that level of production, Baltimore would be hard-pressed to argue Andrews deserves any less than $14 million a year on his next deal.
But what’s good for Andrews isn’t necessarily a huge positive for the concept the Baltimore Ravens can keep all their star players. Andrews joins cornerback Marlon Humphrey, left tackle Ronnie Stanley, outside linebacker Matthew Judon, and quarterback Lamar Jackson as the Ravens looking at massive contract numbers when their rookie deals wrap up over the next two years.
Stanley has made a serious claim as the top offensive tackle in the league, with Laremy Tunsil’s recent deal clocking in at $22 million a year. Humphrey is one of the top cornerbacks in the league, earning a Pro Bowl nod last season despite playing out of position. Top cornerback deals have gone above $16 million a year with the Ravens just giving Marcus Peters $14 million a year. Judon is currently on the franchise tag, which holds a $16.808 million cap hit for 2020. Patrick Mahomes’ recent mega-deal could see Jackson earn more than $500 million.
Though the salary cap was expected to explode under the new CBA, the expected loss of revenue from the coronavirus pandemic could see the cap actually drop down massively. If that happens, it could be very difficult for the Ravens to re-sign all their young stars when the time comes.