With Odell Beckham Jr. now locked in with the Giants for at least a few more years, it’s high time we take dive into what has become a truly remarkable WR draft class from 2014. While many of the 15 receivers drafted in the first three rounds that year have since left the team that selected him (for one reason or another), nearly all have found their way to a nice sophomore contract in the NFL.
Related: 2014 NFL Draft Tracker
Sammy Watkins (#4, BUF -> LAR -> KC)
In his first two seasons with the Bills, Watkins was averaging 62 catches, 1,000 yards, and 8 TDs. But foot injuries kept him off the field regularly from there out, and Buffalo not only declined his 5th-year option for 2017, they traded him late that summer to the Rams. Watkins became a much less relied about weapon in LA’s spread offense, but he still found his way to nearly 600 yards & 8 TDs. He hit the free agent market as a bit of a dark horse, after a limited role in 2017, but was clearly the main target of the Kansas City Chiefs, who made a splash very early by handing Watkins a 3 year, $48M contract, with $30M guaranteed at signing.
Earnings to Date: $19.9M ($30M more fully guaranteed)
Mike Evans(#7, TB)
Statistically speaking, Evans has produced leaps & bounds better than Watkins, averaging 77 grabs, nearly 1,200 yards and 9 TDs per year in his first four seasons with the Bucs. Before yesterday, his 5 year, $82.5M extension in Tampa was the cream of the crop among receivers, as more than $55M of it is guaranteed ($38M guaranteed at signing). Structurally speaking, Evans is only “locked in” through 2019 though, as the dead cap drops to zero thereafter.
Earnings to Date: $14.6M ($38.2M more fully guaranteed)
Odell Beckham, Jr. (#12, NYG)
Before his injury early in 2017, OBJ was on his way to one of the best starts to a career by a WR in history. He averaged 96 catches, nearly 1,400 yards and and 12 TDs over his first three seasons with the Giants. So you can understand why numbers like $20M+ and $100M total were being thrown around with this recent contract. He “settles” for $90M over 5 years, with a total of $65M of it guaranteed ($41M guaranteed at signing). Without having full details yet, it’s safe to assume OBJ is locked in fully guaranteed through 2019, with a practical guarantee built in for 2020.
Earnings to Date: $10.4M ($41M more fully guaranteed)
Brandin Cooks (#20, NO->NE->LAR)
Cooks had a slow start to his career in year one, but found his stride from there, averaging 80 catches, 1,150 yards, and 9 TDs over the next two years with the Saints, who rewarded his efforts with a trade to New England. His numbers remained nearly identical with the Patriots, who rewarded his efforts with a trade to the Rams. The Rams chose to replace exiting Sammy Watkins with Cooks, affording him a 5 year, $81M contract, $49M of which is practically guaranteed, $20.5M of which is fully guaranteed now. He’s financially secure through 2020.
Earnings to Date: $8.5M ($50.5M more practically guaranteed)
Kelvin Benjamin (#28, CAR->BUF)
Benjamin came out of the gate fast in Cam Newton’s offense, securing 73 grabs for over 1,000 yards and 9 TDs in his rookie campaign. But there’s been a gradual decline since, and Benjamin was traded to the Bills last October as a result. He’s the clear #1 in Buffalo for 2018, so it stands to reason he can find a bit of a rejuvenation as he nears free agency in March of 2019.
Earnings to Date: $7.6M ($8.459M guaranteed in 2018)
Marqise Lee (#39, JAC)
Lee struggled to find consistency with a Jacksonville offense that just wasn’t very good across 2014-2015. But as the team improved around him, so did Lee’s ability to produce. Marqise turned in 60 catches, 800 yards, and 3 TDs on average over his past two seasons with the Jaguars, who rewarded him with a 4 year, $34M contract this past March. The deal comes with $16.5M fully guaranteed at signing, securing him for around $18M through 2019.
Earnings to Date: $5.1M ($17.9M practically guaranteed through 2019)
Jordan Matthews (#42, PHI->BUF->NE)
With 75 catches, 925 yards and 8 TDs averaged over this first two seasons, Matthews was on track to be one of the better WRs in this class out of the gate. Injuries held back his 2016 season a bit, and Matthews was traded to the Bills the next summer, where he caught just 25 balls over 2017. The Patriots took a flyer on Matthews this summer, but cut ties with him a few weeks ago after injuries set in yet again.
Earnings to Date: $5.3M
Paul Richardson (#45, SEA-WAS)
After three seasons of minimal targets & an injury to boot, Richardson found his stride in Seattle at the perfect time - his contract year. He reeled in 44 catches for 700 yards and 6 TDs last year with the Seahawks, catapulting him to a 5 year, $40M free agent contract from the Redskins this March. While $12.5M of that is guaranteed at signing, he’s likely to see at least $17.5M over the next two seasons in Washington.
Earnings to Date: $4.7M ($17.5M more practically guaranteed)
Davante Adams (#53, GB)
Adams was a bit of an outlier to begin his career seeing just 66 targets in his rookie season. But Aaron Rodgers began to take notice shortly thereafter, vaulting Adams to 75 catches, 925 yards, and 11 TDs averaged over his past two years in Green Bay. The Packers locked in Adams on a 4 year $58M extension last winter (smartly), including $30M guaranteed ($24M fully guaranteed at signing). With Jordy Nelson now in Oakland, and Randall Cobb’s health always a concern, Adams , who’s set to make $14M combined over the next two seasons, is the clear #1 target in Green Bay, and likely a heck of a value at that.
Earnings to Date: $22.2M ($14M more practically guaranteed)
Cody Latimer (#56, DEN-> NYG)
Latimer was targeted a total of 61 times over 4 seasons in Denver, due in large put to his inability to stay on the field. He showed a small flash of adequacy last season with 20 catches and 2 TDs, but the Giants likely brought him in a his current 1 year $2.5M contract purely as a depth need, on a guy who should have a higher ceiling. It’s a big year for Latimier, who has a chance to be the #3 WR in New York.
Earnings to Date: $3.7M ($2.5M fully guaranteed in 2018)
Allen Robinson (#61, JAC->CHI)
Injuries bookended his four years with the Jaguars, but his phenomenal 2015 campaign (80 catches, 1,400 yards, 14 TDs) can’t be overlooked. Robinson his the ability to be a legitimate WR1 with the right system, and the Bears are looking for him to be just that for the next few years. Chicago locked in A-Rob on a 3 year $42M contract this March, with $18M fully guaranteed at signing, and $28M practically guaranteed through 2019.
Earnings to Date: $3.6M ($28M more practically guaranteed)
Jarvis Landry (#63, MIA-> CLE)
The 12th WR drafted in 2014 averaged 100 catches, 1,010 yards, and 6 TDs per year in his four seasons with the Dolphins. Miami “rewarded” him with a $16M franchise tag, then traded him to the Browns, who showed him a lot more love with a 5 year $75M extension, including $34M guaranteed at signing. Structurally speaking, Landry is financially locked in through 2019. He might be the best receiver not named Odell (whom he played college ball with at LSU) in this class.
Earnings to Date: $3.6M ($34M more fully guaranteed)
Josh Huff (#86, PHI-> TB->NO)
Huff was given a decent shot to shine in 2015, but fell out of favor in Philly thereafter. He was released mid season in 2016, and has bounced around with Tampa & New Orleans since. He'll miss the first two game of 2018 per a substance abuse suspension, and his career is in limbo.
Earnings to Date: $2.2M
Donte Moncrief (#90, IND->JAC)
Moncrief doesn't have the big numbers across the board that many of these players listed have, but he's had a knack for finding the endzone with consistency. He signed a 1 year $9.6M "prove-it" deal with Jacksonville, and a season-ending injury to Marqise Lee should give him a chance to gain targets.
Earnings to Date: $3.9M ($9.6M more fully guaranteed)
John Brown (#91, ARI->BAL)
Brown peeked in 2015 when he reeled in 65 catches for 1,000 yards and 7 TDs. He's yet to reproduce those numbers since, but will have a real shot in Baltimore next to Michael Crabtree in 2018. The Ravens guaranteed $4M of his $5M contract this season.
Earnings to Date: $4M ($4M more fully guaranteed)