Sammy Watkins is entering what technically is the final year of his rookie contract with the Buffalo Bills because the team decided to decline his fifth-year option for 2018 earlier this offseason.
That doesn’t mean Watkins will automatically hit the free-agent market after this season. It just means the Bills wanted to see Watkins stay healthy this year before offering him either a big extension, the franchise tag, or the transition tag.
And after what’s become an annual tradition in early July at the start of NBA free agency — many people, certainly including NFL players seeing the massive, full guaranteed contracts for some, let’s say, not-super-productive NBAers — Watkins retweeted this on Sunday morning:
NFL players have the right to be pissed. They get smallest piece of the pie. NFL has $12B in annual revenue; NBA has $5B.— Jake Steinberg (@Steiny31) July 1, 2017
While that tweet holds some weight, our very own Jeff Hunter sent out a tweet amid the NBA free agency madness, which offered vital context to the size of NBA deals:
Just a reminder...— Jeff Hunter (@MrJeffHunter) July 1, 2017
NBA: $8b revenue / 420 players = ~$19m/player
NFL: $14b revenue / 1,696 players = ~$8.25m/player
So, yeah, there’s simply fewer players in the NBA, therefore there’s much more money to go around.
After the retweet, Watkins sent this tweet:
We gotta get paid more I'm pretty sure 2014 class will change the market— King Me (@sammywatkins) July 2, 2017
This doesn’t come off as a statement directly aimed at the Bills. Really, it seems like a more broad statement about the percentage of revenue NFL players receive in contract money.
Undoubtedly, Watkins will want to get a lucrative contract after his rookie deal is finished. For 2017, he represents a $6.43 million cap hit, and the entirety of his rookie contract was fully guaranteed.
Watkins is right though — the 2014 class of receivers (assuming “will change the market” is referencing wideouts) will set a new standard for how much wide receivers are paid in the NFL.
Watkins, Odell Beckham Jr., Mike Evans, Brandin Cooks, Jarvis Landry, Kelvin Benjamin, Davante Adams, Allen Robinson, Donte Moncrief, and John Brown were all picked in 2014 and are still playing on their initial NFL contract.
When Watkins has been on the field, he’s been a dynamic player for the Bills. If he can stay healthy this season, Buffalo will likely reward him handsomely.