Over three seasons since being taken in the fourth round of the 2021 draft, the 17th wide receiver taken in that draft if you haven't heard, Amon-Ra St. Brown has become of the best wide receivers in the NFL.
Since he was a fourth-round pick, that also means St. Brown is heading into the final year of his rookie contract in 2024. He is eligible for a contract extension for the first time this offseason, and as a core player for the Lions a new deal that's more reflective of his performance is easy to see as a no-brainer.
A proven performance escalator will boost St. Brown's current $1.055 million base salary for next season. Back in November, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press offered up the idea St. Brown might hold out of training camp this summer if he doesn't have a new deal by then. As much as a holdout would be against St. Brown's grain, it's not a ridiculous notion.
CBS analysts widely capture obvious about what Lions should do with Amon-Ra St. Brown
On the ground in Las Vegas, Birkett got some sentiment about St. Brown from a trio of CBS Sports analysts. The Chiefs having traded Tyreek Hill rather than sign him to a big contract was used as a root comparison.
Former Lions wide receiver Nate Burleson:
"Yeah, Chiefs didn’t pay Tyreek Hill and they’re here, but there were some issues in the passing game this season," Burleson said. "And let’s be really clear, Tyreek Hill would be a help to this Chiefs offense. You got to keep Amon-Ra St. Brown. He does it all. Not only is he dynamic, he blocks his butt off. He just adds a spark. Really unique talent. He’s like, he’s as good as any No. 1 wide receiver, but he brings that energy that you need."You got to pay him," Burleson said. "That’s another part of it. Sometimes you’re not just paying for the talent, you’re paying for what you mean to the team."
Charles Davis noted a difference between St. Brown and Hill, in that St. Brown is a core part of the Lions' identity in a way Hill was not for the Chiefs.
"It is similar, but I think where the difference is, is that (St. Brown) is such a heavy influence on how they play as a team and their identity and it’s a little bit different," Davis said. "Was Tyreek the full identity of Kansas City? I’d say no."
Boomer Esiason went all the way to declare to predict "somewhere around $20 million a year" for the "Sun God."
"Got to pay him," Esiason said. "It’s like Tee Higgins in Cincinnati. Duke Tobin, if you remember last year, the GM of Cincinnati said, 'Go get your own receivers.' This year he’s not quite as emphatic about that because he knows it’s going to be a lot of money to keep Tee and they got to pay Ja’Marr. And you’re talking about Amon-Ra, who is now first-team All-Pro and he’s a very important part of that offense. You got to pay him the going rate."
Right now there are 13 wide receivers averaging $20 million or more per year, with Justin Jefferson and Ja'Marr Chase in line to join them. It's not a tough decision for the Lions to put St. Brown in that same financial class with his new deal, per se, it's more a matter of when a new deal gets done and what the structure looks like.