Both players had threatened to hold out of training camp, the preseason and possibly some regular games if their contracts weren’t in place by Wednesday’s deadline. The $14 million per year and large guaranteed money that Bryant and Thomas just received will certainly set the market for top NFL receivers playing out their final year of their rookie deals in 2015.
Both Jones and Green could realistically be handed franchise tenders next March if their teams decide to wait until later in the offseason to negotiate.
As it stands, neither Bryant nor Thomas got the “Megatron” contract they were seeking. But as realistically predicted, both settled in between Johnson’s annual pay and that of Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Mike Wallace, who earns $12 million per year.
Additionally, Bryant has 64.29 percent of his pay guaranteed and Thomas is guaranteed 62.14 percent. This alone sets them well at the top of their class in guaranteed money.
Like the two receivers that inked deals Wednesday, Jones and Green are both first-round draft picks who have put up elite numbers with their teams. Jones is coming off of his career-highs in receptions (104) and receiving yards (1,593) in 2014 despite suffering a serious foot injury the previous season. Green has posted 1,000-plus yards in each of his four seasons with the Bengals along with a total of 35 touchdowns.
Surely, the new contract trend for current Pro Bowl wide receivers will be branded after Bryant’s and Thomas’ major deals.