Contract for draft classmate can only be good for Amon-Ra St. Brown

Amon-Ra St. Brown is lined up for a big contract extension, but new contract buzz regarding a draft classmate will only bolster his negotiating position.
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It's well-documented that Amon-Ra St. Brown was the 17th wide receiver taken in the 2021 NFL Draft, and that he keeps tabs on the 16 receivers who were taken before him. Over the last three seasons, he has also vastly outproduced most of those 16.

It's also well-known by now that St. Brown is entering the final year of his rookie contract, and he's going to become one of the highest-paid wide receivers in the NFL with his next contract. Reports and projections have pointed to him getting a contract just below the absolute top of the market-$26-$28 million.

Tyreek Hill is currently the highest-paid receiver at $30 million per year. Behind him is Davante Adams ($28 million per year), Cooper Kupp ($26.7 million per year) and A.J. Brown ($25 million per year).

St. Brown will land somewhere in that range, $25 million-plus per year, with one or more of Justin Jefferson, CeeDee Lamb and Ja'Marr Chase seemingly set to reset the top of the market.

Contract buzz around draft classmate is very good news for Amon-Ra St. Brown

According to ESPN's Tim McManus, wide receiver DeVonta Smith has begun contract extension talks with the Philadelphia Eagles.

ESPN's Jeremy Fowler added the two sides have been in contact about a deal for awhile, and Smith is willing to stay patient in light of the big wide receiver contracts that are coming. The Eagles also have the benefit of the fifth-year option, which they will surely exercise by May 2.

Smith is one of the aforementioned receivers who was drafted before St. Brown in 2021. McManus also passed along an indication of what Smith may land in a long-term deal.

"The top of the market may be a reach --Miami Dolphins star Tyreek Hill currently holds that distinction with an average annual salary of $30 million -- but it would be no surprise if Smith commands $25 million or more per season."

As outlined by Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, some top-end wide receiver contracts are not all that they seem. So if Smith gets a deal that's reported to be $25 million per year, or more, there will be naturally skepticism over what it actually will be upon further review.

Even the faint notion Smith could get $25 million-plus per year in surface value is good news for St. Brown in his ongoing, and more urgent, contract negotiations. Let's compare their resumes, over the same number of seasons of course.

St. Brown: 315 receptions (two 100-catch seasons), 3,588 yards (two seasons over 1,100 yards, one season over 1,500 yards), 21 touchdowns; two Pro Bowls

Smith: 240 receptions (zero 100-catch seasons; high of 95), 3,178 yards (one season over 1,100 yards; two seasons over 1,000 yards), 19 touchdowns; zero Pro Bowls

It's worth noting that Smith has had to contend with a top-end receiver (A.J. Brown) for targets in a way St. Brown hasn't. Even with that in mind, there's really no comparing their accomplishments through three seasons.

It may be pure speculation that Smith will get $25 million or more per year in his second contract. But even as pure speculation, indications of a contract bar for a less-accomplished draft classmate is good for St. Brown as his agent negotiates with the Lions.

Update, April 15, 11:25 a.m. ET: According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the Eagles have signed Smith to a three-year, $75 million contract extension with $51 million guaranteed.

So Smith, on the surface, indeed got $25 million per year with 68 percent of the deal reported guaranteed. St. Brown's agent likes those numbers, and can/should get better than that for his client.

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