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Extension Projection: Antonio Brown

Extension Projection: Antonio Brown
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Extension Projection: Antonio Brown

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With paychecks flying around for wide receivers this summer, it's likely time for Antonio Brown to begin questioning his pay-grade with the Steelers. Brown is in a unique situation, as he'll be seeking his third contract at just 27 years old (signed an extension at age 24). He's currently worth $8.4M per year (14th among WRs) and none of the remaining $23M cash over the final 3 years of his current contract is guaranteed. While it's good money, he's certainly performed well enough to be a top 5 paid receiver in the league at this stage of his career.

We'll take a close look at Browns' production over the past 2 seasons, comparing it to a group of variable receivers of similar age who have recently signed extensions to forecast his current value heading toward the 2015 season.

Comparable Wide Receivers

We'll adjust the contracts below contract accordingly as if they were signed by each player at the age of 27. Then to determine a more likely starting point for our numbers, we'll perform a linear regression of each contract breakdown listed below.

Player Length Value Avg. Salary Age When Signed
Dez Bryant 5 $70,000,000 $14,000,000 26
Demaryius Thomas 5 $70,000,000 $14,000,000 27
T.Y. Hilton 5 $65,000,000 $13,000,000 25
Mike Wallace 5 $60,000,000 $12,000,000 26
Averages 5 $66,250,000 $13,250,000 26

Note: A linear regression is a formula that plots the provided points of data for Length and Value of the contracts, and then generates the best-fit line for those points, resulting in a "slope" value that translates to an average annual salary.

View the list of Top Average Paid Wide Receivers in the NFL

Once a linear regression is performed on these we're given the following terms to begin with:

Length Value Avg. Salary (slope)
5 $66,893,939 $13,378,788

Statistical Analyzations, Prime Percentage
Now let's analyze these players statistically in the year prior to signing their second contract by comparing Games Played, Receptions/G, Receiving Yards/G, Targets/Game, and Receiving TDs/G between our variables and Brown.
Dez Bryant (13-14, DAL) 16 5.625 79.8 9.25 .906
Demaryius Thomas (13-14, DEN) 16 6.375 95.3 10.18 .78
T.Y. Hilton (13-14, IND) 15.5 5.29 78.3 8.7 .38
Mike Wallace (11-12, PIT) 15.5 4.38 65.6 7.51 .51
Averages 15.88 5.42 80.78 8.96 .71
Antonio Brown (13-14, PIT) 16 7.46 99.9 10.875 .65
% Difference 1.59% 37.7% 25.27% 22.05% .88%

Brown's production in the last two seasons is somewhat unparallelled, as he's dominated this elite set of WRs across the board. We'll factor in both the Average and Median percentages to show a range projection below.

Guaranteed Money
We'll factor in our variable wide receiver's guaranteed dollars to forecast what Brown might expect.
Player Value True Guarantees % Guaranteed
Dez Bryant  $70,000,000 $45,000,000 64.29%
Demaryius Thomas  $70,000,000 $43,500,000 62.14%
T.Y. Hilton $65,000,000 $39,000,000 60%
Mike Wallace $60,000,000 $27,000,000 45%
Adjusted Regression: 62.14%

Length of the Contract
While our variable receivers signed extensions of 5 and 6 years, Brown's situation is unique, as he has 3 years remaining on his current contract. Brown just turned 27 last month, so length is a bit of a question mark when we're talking long term here. I t's likely the Steelers heavily restructure those 3 years, and tack on 2 new years to push things out a bit.
NOTE: Because none of the remaining salaries are guaranteed, we'll assume those figures will be ripped up in lei of a new deal. Therefore, we'll assume this new contract as 5 years, starting in 2015.

Value of the Contract
Brown's production has been somewhat quietly unparalleled in the past 2+ seasons in Pittsburgh. While he certainly deserves a raise, a few obstacles stand in the way.

First off, the Steelers have a regimented stance against extended or reworking contracts until they're in the final year of the deal. Clearly that's not the case here. Second, $3.4M of Brown's signing bonus from 2012 + $6.26M from multiple restructures sit as dead cap on the current contract - a total of $9,662,500 would be required to transfer to the new deal. While this doesn't seem like a lot, remember that the name of the game with this extension is to maximize guaranteed cash in hand in the first three years of the new contract.

This contract is less about the long-term stability of Brown, and more about shuffling money to pay him now, and likely guarantee him 3 years worth of salary, at which time he'll be 30 years old. The years after that will be arbitrary. We'll break out our MEDIAN and AVERAGE prime percentages to assess the High and Low valuation for Brown:

Utilizing our Average Percentage (17.5%), we value Brown as the 2nd highest average paid WR:
5 years, $78,600,379 | $15,720,076 per year | $48,000,000 guaranteed
Utilizing our Median Percentage (22%), we value Brown as the highest average paid WR:
5 years, $81,644,053 | $16,328,811 per year | $50,000,000 guaranteed
Assuming the remaining salaries of the current contract are ripped up for this deal, we've calculated Antonio Brown's next contract as:
Spotrac's Prediction: 5 years, $80,000,000

Average Salary: $16,000,000
Guaranteed Money: $49,600,000


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