Slot receivers have seen a disappointing free-agent market this offseason, and some agents suggest that collusion among NFL owners may be in play to suppress the salaries of that specific class of receivers.
Whereas outside receivers such as Mike Wallace landed a five-year, $60 million contract that includes $30 million in guarantees and Greg Jennings landed a five-year, $45 million contract with $17.8 million guaranteed, including a $10 million signing bonus, the slot guys have come up way short comparatively.
Wes Welker got $12 million guaranteed. His replacement with the Patriots, Danny Amendola, got $10 million guaranteed. And Anquan Boldin — who is set to make a base salary of $6 million in 2013 — got dealt to the Niners rather than accept a reduced contract less than two months after proving his worth as Baltimore’s best postseason receiver.
Some agents suggested to WEEI.com’s Christopher Price that the disparity is driven by more than supply and demand.
“In my opinion, it’s 100 percent collusion to reset the market and values,” said one high-profile agent. “Remember Carolina owner Jerry Richardson during the lockout saying the owners were going to take back the league? They used the worst collective bargaining agreement ever negotiated by the absolutely atrocious and corrupt NFLPA as an excuse, and decided to reset certain spots, including offensive tackle, cornerback, defensive end, defensive tackle and slot receiver.”
“The league has resolved itself to bring all salaries under control — the NFL would live to have more options in terms of markets, positions, franchise tenders and the like, but mainly they are just trying to lower all the bars to get salaries back to where they should be across the market,” added another agent. “The feeling around the league is ‘No more players who aren’t elite should be paid as elite just because they got to free agency,’ and all the teams know what everyone is willing to pay. They talk more than ever, and if you price your guy out of the market, you’re screwed.”
For more on the strange market for slot receivers this offseason, click here to read Price’s column.
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