The 2011 NFL Draft churned out two of the very best wide receivers in the game right now in the first six selections. They also became the two highest-paid players at their positions in 2015 when they signed their new deals. But those numbers have been surpassed several times over during the past couple of years.
Which is why Julio Jones, the sixth-overall pick in that class by the Atlanta Falcons and a man whose current contract sees him earning an average of $14.25 million a year, has skipped his team’s mandatory minicamp and is pushing for a new contract three years after having signed it. He has three years left on his contract.
A.J. Green, the fourth-overall pick that year, supports Jones in his efforts, but is not looking for a new contract himself from the Cincinnati Bengals. Green signed a four-year, 60 million extension after Jones got his deal in 2015.
Green has two years left on his deal. He will earn a base salary of $10,055,000 million this year and $11,976,000 in 2019, but his cap hits come with $3 million in prorated money from a $15 million roster bonus that was spread out over five years.
“I think the biggest thing for me, I’m always comfortable with stuff I’m doing – I signed a deal and I’m comfortable with the deal and I just live with it”, Green recently told the Cincinnati Enquirer about his contract. “After that’s up, we go back to the board. I don’t really get caught up in what’s the money like because I signed my deal and it was the highest paid at that point. It’s going to always go up. So you can’t keep up with that”.
“I really don’t try to get into all that other stuff”, he went on to say, referring to getting caught up in who is making more than he is and what that means about his stature. “At the end of the day I just want to play football. I got my contract. I’m set for life. Now I can just go out there and play”.
I must admit it’s a bit refreshing to hear that about an athlete who signed a deal only to see it look second-round in comparison after a few seasons. While it might well be true that there are players at his position clearly inferior to him who are receiving more in compensation, that is sometimes just how it works.
And realistically, Green will be up for an extension next year anyway, so he should only have to wait one more year to cash in for the third time. He has already earned nearly $67 million in his career over seven seasons.
Green had a bit of a rebound season after dealing with injuries in 2016. Last year, he caught 75 passes for1078 yards and eight touchdowns. He has recorded at least 1000 receiving yards in each of his first seven seasons outside of the injury-truncated 2016 season.
In all, he has caught 556 passes in 102 games, recording 8213 receiving yards and 57 touchdowns. Those numbers rank ninth (receptions), ninth (receiving yards) and 11 (receiving touchdowns) among active players.