In the most important season of his career, with a contract expiring at season’s end, Tennessee Titans wide receiver Corey Davis is producing at a level that is sure to catch the eyes of a handful of NFL teams this offseason.
On May 1, 2020, after Davis’ third season in Tennessee, the Titans elected to decline a fifth-year option, which would have carried the steep price of $15.68 million in 2021. After drafted Davis fifth overall in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Titans had not seen the type of productivity to come remotely close to what a team expects out of a player drafted so high.
Corey Davis wants that new contract. pic.twitter.com/hfkRFrXVuI
— Austin Nelson (@iAustinNelson) December 6, 2020
The pressure was clearly affecting Davis, especially with a quarterback who struggled to consistently throw the ball at any level in the field. None of that matters though, as Davis constantly walks around with a receipt hanging out of his pocket from the 2017 Draft as a former first-round pick and a top-5 selection, at that.
Fast forward to the present. Davis, in a contract year, is leading Titans receivers with 53 catches and 801 yards to go along with four 100-yard games this season. With four games left to play in the season, Davis is on pace to total a career-high 1,068 receiving yards, which is sure to come with a lucrative second contract – whether it is from the Titans, or elsewhere.
— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) December 6, 2020
When looking through the past two off-seasons, there are four receivers that Davis’ contract situation can compare to.
DeVante Parker – Miami Dolphins
With Davis nearing the end of his fourth season in the NFL, Parker’s contract situation with the Dolphins last season might be the most comparable to the Titans pass catcher. After being selected with the 14th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, the Dolphins decided to pick up Parker’s fifth-year option for the 2019 season.
This decision came after four years of mild production, to be generous, where Parker accumulated 2,217 yards and nine touchdowns. With four games remaining in Davis’ fourth year in the league, the wide receiver from Western Michigan currently sits at 2,668 yards and eight touchdowns.
But it was Parker’s contract year where he exploded for career highs in catches (72), yards (1,202), and touchdowns (9). This season earned Parker a four-year extension worth $40 million including $21.5 million in guarantees. Davis is experiencing a similar breakout season in a contract year that might net somewhere around the $10 million average annual salary that Parker was rewarded with.
The #Dolphins and WR DeVante Parker are finalizing a four-year extension worth over $40 million, source said. Lot of guaranteed money. Another step in his remarkable turnaround. 💰
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) December 13, 2019
Sterling Shepard – New York Giants
After being taken with the 40th pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, Shepard’s first four years in the NFL were viewed in the same light as Davis heading into this season — not a No. 1 wide receiver, but a valuable piece to the offense.
The full Sterling Shepard contract details, per source. It’s a four-year extension at $41M w/$10M signing bonus and $21.26M guaranteed. Base salaries for 2020 and 2021 are guaranteed.
Gets $10.76M in new money this year instead of $1.26M he was previously owed.
— Jordan Raanan (@JordanRaanan) April 16, 2019
In April of 2019, Shepard was inked to a four-year extension worth $41 million, including just over $21 million in guarantees after four seasons with the Giants. Through four years with New York, Shepard produced in the fashion of 2,862 yards with 17 touchdowns.
See a pattern developing?
Robby Anderson – Carolina Panthers
Anderson is in the middle of his first season with the Carolina Panthers after a four-year tenure with the New York Jets. Unlike Davis, Parker, or Shepard, Anderson went undrafted out of college and came into the league in 2016.
However, Anderson shared the same misfortune as the other three by playing on the outside with shoddy quarterback play. That still didn’t stop Anderson from finding the endzone 20 times while hauling in 207 catches for 3,059 yards. But the Jets let their most dangerous weapon and best deep threat walk away after four seasons.
A Panthers team with a rebuild mindset took note of Anderson’s early success and signed the promising big-play receiver to a two-year contract worth $20 million, which includes $12 million guaranteed.
Salary Cap Uncertainty
Recent history has provided enough examples to come to the conclusion that Corey Davis’ next contract will likely be in the same zip code of the $10 million average annual value that was common in all three of the other receivers’ second deals.
Idk how, but the Titans need to find some money for @TheCDavis84 this offseason.
This franchise/fanbase has waited years to have an elite tandem like Brown & Davis and they can not let it go!! https://t.co/2sXSQFa1jS
— Shaun Calderon (@ShaunMichaels31) December 6, 2020
However, Davis might be at a disadvantage this offseason. According to Over The Cap, the 2021 NFL salary cap is estimated to be $176 million. That is a decrease of $22.1 million (11.2%) from the 2020 season.
But the salary cap is just one of the variables that is included in this Corey Davis equation.
Davis appears to be the Titans No. 2 receiver going forward, will he accept his role in the team’s offense, or will he want a shot elsewhere to prove that he is capable of leading a receiving corps like many NFL teams thought he could in 2017?
It is Davis who ultimately controls his own destiny.
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