Tennessee Titans wide receiver Corey Davis is set to become an unrestricted free agent in March.
Here’s what an extension with the Titans, or a contract with a different team in free agency, could look like.
(All values for existing contracts come from Over the Cap, a tremendous resource for which I am grateful.)
ABSOLUTE CEILING: Rams WR Robert Woods
The Los Angeles Rams gave Woods a four-year contract extension back in September 2020. The deal carries a maximum value of $65 million and an annual average value of $16.25 million.
Woods’ new contract the highest-paid non-star wide receiver in the NFL. Every receiver with a higher AAV than Woods is a top-tier, No. 1 receiver for their team.
The three players immediately ahead of Woods on the list of highest-paid NFL receivers are Mike Evans, Odell Beckham Jr. and Tyreek Hill.
Davis has no real argument to get that kind of money and enter that conversation. Woods caught 266 passes for 3,289 yards from 2018-2020, and Davis’ production has simply never gotten close to that level.
ABSOLUTE FLOOR: Jets WR Jamison Crowder
The Jets gave Crowder a three-year contract with a maximum value of $28.5 million in 2019 free agency. The deal’s AAV comes out to $9.5 million.
Crowder got that contract coming off of a season in which he played in just nine games and totaled less than 400 receiving yards, though he did have respectable production in the two seasons prior.
At the end of the day, however, Crowder is and has always been an extremely limited player. He’s small and operates almost exclusively out of the slot.
Davis is more talented, versatile and productive than Crowder, so he will definitely make more money.
Bengals WR Tyler Boyd (Four years, $43M)
Boyd got a four-year extension from Cincinnati in 2019 with an AAV of $10.75 million. Based purely on Boyd’s production, that number seems a bit low.
When he signed his extension, Boyd was coming off of a 1,000-yard season, and he notched another one in 2019.
However, Boyd mainly is a slot receiver and, generally, receivers who play almost exclusively in the slot make less money than their counterparts at the position who play on the perimeter.
Davis, though not as productive as Boyd, has the skillset necessary to play both in the slot and on the outside. He’ll make more than Boyd.
Raiders WR Tyrell Williams (Four years, $44.3 million)
Williams cashed in with the Raiders in 2019 free agency, signing a four-year deal with an AAV of $11.075 million. That’s also a figure that Davis will likely exceed.
Davis’ production in 2020 was much better than Williams’ the year before he hit the open market. Williams recorded just 653 receiving yards in his contract year, and he preceded that with a 728-yard season.
On the other hand, Davis had a career year in 2020, coming just 16 yards shy of a 1,000-yard campaign.
Based on production, and the inflation that takes place each year, Davis will surpass Williams’ salary.
Bears WR Allen Robinson (Three years, $42 million)
It’s pretty clear what Davis’ floor is for a new contract, but we also need to take a look at a comparable contract that shows the range he can actually expect to make. Robinson’s three-year deal with the Bears in 2018 is probably the best choice.
Robinson was the top receiver on the market in 2018 free agency, and he cashed in with the Bears on a deal that gave him an AAV of $14 million.
While Robinson was a much better free-agent option in 2018 than Davis is now due to his impressive production, age and general talent, Davis will likely be able to draw a contract around that amount.
Robinson signed his deal with the Bears three years ago, so inflation will likely allow Davis and his agent to use that contract as a bargaining chip.
Davis will be a top option for receiver-needy teams when free agency opens in March, and a bidding war for him could lead to getting pretty close to what Robinson got in 2018.
That would keep him ahead of lesser players like Crowder and Williams while keeping him out of Woods’ territory.
Most recent free-agent receivers have signed four-year contracts, but there are two reasons why Davis may buck that trend.
First, signing a three-year deal would allow him to hit the open market again before turning 30. Additionally, Davis will likely want the chance to get more money if he goes to a more passing-oriented team and improves his production.
The franchise tag value for a wide receiver in 2021 is projected to be $16.43 million, according to Over the Cap.
That figure would push Davis past Woods’ salary, so the franchise tag really isn’t a viable option for the Titans, here. It’s just too high, and an extension would likely be markedly cheaper.
PROJECTED CONTRACT FOR COREY DAVIS
- Length: Three years
- Total value: $41.25 million
- Guaranteed money: $23 million
- Average annual value: $13.75 million