There aren’t many players in the National Football League as electrifying as Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown. Yet, coming into this 2016 season, he was not getting paid like one, and this did not sit well with him. Said Brown at the start of training camp: “You have to take care of your guys. If a guy underperforms, you get rid of him. If a guy over-performs, you take care of him.” As he had hoped, the Pittsburgh Steelers heard him loud and clear.
Although a longterm deal between the Steelers and the four-time Pro Bowler still needs to be worked on down the road (and it should be as early as next summer), the two sides did agree to a compromise in the form of a restructured contract. In this deal, Brown gets $4 million — from his 2017 salary — added on to his $6.25 million base salary this season, making his total base salary for the 2016 season $10.25 million.
While this figure is much more fitting of a player of his standing, Brown, by all accounts, is still grossly underpaid; at least as far as wide receivers are concerned. Considering this new deal places him among the five highest-paid NFL wide receivers — on base salary alone — in 2016, that’s saying something. If you don’t believe us, see for yourself.
5. Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2016 base salary: $9.77 million
Vincent Jackson has gone for over 1,000 yards receiving in six of his 11 NFL seasons. Unfortunately for Bucs fans, the 2015 season was not one of them. Last year, Jackson played in just 10 games (starting in nine of them), finishing with 33 catches, 543 receiving yards, and three touchdown receptions. Not exactly inspiring numbers for the veteran receiver.
Still, the Tampa Bay organization must have faith that the three-time Pro Bowler will regain his form in 2016, opting to keep the 33-year-old around on his $9.77 million base salary. Here’s to hoping the Buccaneers don’t live to regret that decision; for as we all know, Father Time waits for no man.
4. Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers
2016 base salary: $10.25 million
If any wide receiver in the National Football League deserved a pay bump it’s Brown. Since being selected with the No. 195 pick in the 2010 draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers superstar has led the league in receiving yards once and receptions twice, played in four Pro Bowls, and been a First-Team All-Pro member on two separate occasions. While this latest restructuring of his contract makes Brown one of the highest-paid NFL wide receivers, it’s safe to say his salary will only go up once he and the Steelers reach a long-term agreement next offseason.
3. Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals
2016 base salary: $11 million
After failing to reach 1,000 yards receiving in three straight seasons, Larry Fitzgerald came into 2015 and reminded everyone that he was still capable of playing at a high level. At 32 years old, the nine-time Pro Bowler caught 109 passes for 1,215 receiving yards and finished the year with nine touchdowns. This season, the future Hall of Famer is set to make $11 million in base salary. If he can come close to duplicating his numbers from 2015, the Arizona Cardinals should consider this money well spent.
2. Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos
2016 base salary: $13 million
It’s hard to believe that 2015 was considered a “down year” for Denver Broncos wideout Demaryius Thomas. Sure, the three-time Pro Bowler struggled with drops throughout the season and only finished with six touchdown catches, but he still managed to end up with 105 catches for 1,304 receiving yards; a more than respectable haul if you ask us. Thomas is set to earn $13 million in base salary in 2016. For his sake, we hope his doesn’t drop the ball this year; well, at least not as much as he did in 2015.
1. Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears
2016 base salary: $14.6 million
So we’re clear, Alshon Jeffrey’s 2016 season salary is based on the franchise tag tender he signed this past offseason. Still, that doesn’t change the fact that the Chicago Bears wide receiver is getting paid — big time.
Jeffrey was limited to just nine games in 2015, but the 6-foot-4 receiver still caught 54 passes for 807 yards and four touchdowns. If the former South Carolina standout is able to produce this upcoming season like he did back in 2013 and 2014, we suspect he’ll remain one of the highest-paid wideouts in the NFL once the two sides eventually agree to a long-term deal.