Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas just put ink to paper, finalizing massive contracts with their respective teams.
Five years, $70 million and over $40 million in guaranteed money.
The only people happier than Thomas and Bryant (and their families) were these upcoming receivers. Next in line to rake in millions of guaranteed dollars, these young players are hungry.
Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
Masterful, elegant, fierce and determined to succeed, Jones is just the slightest notch below Calvin Johnson, Bryant and Thomas in the overall rankings at the receiver position.
Entering the final year of his rookie deal, Jones has been Atlanta’s top receiver since the start of the 2013 season. With 4,330 yards and 26 touchdowns to his credit, he’s just scratching the surface of his potential. Therefore it’s not surprising to hear there is a “general sense” the Falcons will hammer out a deal with Jones before the start of training camp (h/t ESPN’s Vaughn McClure).
T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts
Hilton didn’t hide his excitement after hearing about the deals struck in Dallas and Denver.
All this BREAKING NEWS. Does this mean the bar is set?? #THEGHOST
— TY Hilton (@TYHilton13) July 15, 2015
The speedy, diminutive Hilton is a home run waiting to happen. With a career average of 15.4 yards per catch and 19 touchdowns to his name, the small-school sensation is going to get PAID next year, whether it’s with Indianapolis or another team.
A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals
No offense intended to Andy Dalton, but can you imagine the stats Green would pile up if he were running routes for a top-tier quarterback?
In four years, he’s caught 329 balls for 4,874 yards and 35 touchdowns.
Green has reportedly stated he’s not planning on holding out this summer, even though he’s due an extension in the last year of his cheap rookie deal.
Could this mean he’s ready to move on?
Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers
One of the most productive receivers of this new era, Brown is electric. He routinely takes simple slants to the house and also has the afterburners to torch defenses 50 yards down the field. Brown caught a league-leading 126 passes last year for 1,698 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Brown still has another year left on his contract after 2015. But if he comes close to matching these numbers this season then the Steelers will likely be facing a contract standoff in the summer of 2016.
DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans
Hopkins is severely underrated in the national media, but NFL insiders have marked him as an up-and-coming star. Despite uninspiring quarterback play, Hopkins has tallied over 2,000 yards with eight touchdowns in the first two years of his young career.
The former Clemson star is due for a tremendous boost in income sometime between the end of the 2015 season and training camp in 2016.
Photo Credit: USA Today Sports