Every year there are deals done that have far-reaching ripple effects on the rest of the NFL. This year, the Charles Johnson deal at the start of free agency threw a temporary monkey wrench into other deals being consummated around the league. I'm sure Osi Umenyiora took a look at his deal after Johnson's signing and immediately felt underpaid -- and he wasn't alone.
Well, the Larry Fitzgerald deal is sending a much bigger shock wave through the NFL, and teams looking to extend players might have just hit a big road block.
Fitzgerald just did a "quarterback deal," breaking a sacred barrier placing other position players in the same status as the most important player on the field. Chris Johnson of the Titans now has a leg to stand on to support his position that he deserves quarterback money. I just had a former head coach tell me, "Chris Johnson doesn't need a great quarterback to give you what he has to offer while Larry Fitzgerald is tied to the QB." I don't believe the Titans are going to respond to the Fitzgerald deal with a matching offer, but there's no doubt there will eventually be more money on the table if they want Johnson under a long-term deal this year. With two years left on Johnson's deal, One GM said the club still has the leverage, unless Johnson sits out the first ten weeks.
Chris Johnson isn't the only NFL player taking a long look at the Fitzgerald deal. Some would argue Andre Johnson is the best receiver in the NFL, and the new deal he did recently averages $8.1 million for the first three years, while Fitzgerald will average $15.15 million a year in the first three. How long will Johnson want to play under his new contract?
The Eagles' Jackson, scheduled to earn $565,000 this season, has been looking for a new deal. He probably was thinking about working off the Andre Johnson deal and maybe settle for slightly less, but now all bets are off.
Jackson is on a franchise tag worth $11 million and is looking for a long-term deal. The Chargers may not be able to swallow the Fitzgerald deal and think about a franchise tag next year for Jackson. Keep in mind the franchise tag is the average of the top five-paid players at the position, and the new Fitzgerald deal will clearly raise the franchise tag value.
At 32, Wayne is not going to get a Larry Fitzgerald-type deal, but there's no question he will be looking for more money now than he would have been a few days ago. At the end of the day I don't worry about the Wayne contract as much as I do some of the young guns looking at Fitzgerald's contract.
The Saints receiver signed a three-year extension in 2008 for close to $8 million over three years and this is his final season at $3 million. Colston caught 154 passes and 16 touchdowns over the past two seasons and came into the NFL two years after Fitzgerald. What do you think he's worth now?
Bowe is in the final year of a contract that owes him $2.765 million this season. If Bowe plays well this year after a 2010 season with 72 receptions and 15 touchdowns, the Chiefs are staring at a franchise tag probably worth over $10 million, or a deal that is somewhere between the already outdated Andre Johnson deal and the new Fitzgerald deal. Fitzgerald is a great player, but he never caught 15 touchdown passes in a season.
The next generation
Finally, the idea that a position player could land a deal that is $6 million a year over the franchise number for his position and higher than the average of the top ten quarterbacks in the NFL just turned the apple cart upside down.