It’s time for the NFL’s well-paid receivers to prove their worth

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill, AJ Brown, Super Bowl MVP Cooper Kupp and even Christian Kirk are among the wide receivers who have reset the market for how much the NFL pays best at that position this year.

Now comes the hardest part: proving they’re worth all those millions.

The hard work to rack up lots of catches, yards and touchdowns and help their teams win matters the most.

No one knows this better than those receivers whose bank accounts are now swelling. Adams, who for years has talked about being the NFL’s highest-paid wide receiver, is eager to show he deserves the record-breaking $140 million contract Las Vegas handed him.

“For me, I attack it,” Adams said. “I’m looking to maximize everything I do, so I’m really looking forward, like I said, to leaving my mark, doing everything I can to allow this team to win a lot of games.

Adams’ production certainly shows he’s worth the Raiders signing him to a five-year deal. Adams led the NFL in most receptions (432), receiving yards (5,310) and receiving touchdowns (47) over the past four years.

San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan says the only other option to make a really big check is to sign a player, which is certainly cheaper. The risk is that what scouts and coaches saw on a player’s tape in college doesn’t always translate to the NFL.

“The guys you can usually rely on are the ones who made it to this level, and that’s why you have to pay for it,” Shanahan said. “And you have to hope that the character, what he’s made of and what really drives him will continue to get what he put on tape.”

That’s why the NFL wide receiver pay scale has skyrocketed this year with teams signing eight contracts worth at least $72 million each and three of them reaching $100 million. dollars or more. Adams set the new standard with Hill and Brown, all securing deals worth at least $100 million.

Hill topped the guaranteed money Adams got after being traded by Green Bay to Las Vegas. Miami guaranteed the Cheetah $72.2 million after being traded from Kansas City for an average of $30 million per year, the highest in the NFL. Hill is coming off a season where he caught 111 passes for 1,239 yards and nine touchdowns.

He tries to be a veteran leader for the Dolphins by accepting a call from first-year coach Mike McDaniel for any mistakes.

“If the coach is calling like, fifth, sixth receiver who’s barely getting reps, he’s going to feel some kind of way,” Hill said. “But if he’s able to call me and call this guy again, this guy is going to say, ‘OK, he’s calling ‘Reek’ so I have to get back to my (game). ′”

Stefon Diggs narrowly missed out on the $100 million wide receivers club with his $96 million contract keeping him in Buffalo. The booming receiver market didn’t help Buffalo, who knew Diggs deserved a new contract even with two years remaining on his original deal. And Diggs insists the money only motivates him more.

“I want to prove that I’m one of the best receivers in the league,” Diggs said. “I’m on one of the best teams in the league and I’m chasing. I’m back chasing. I love chasing, though, because you have something to work for or expect with looking forward every day.

These deals rewriting the receiver market make Kenny Golladay’s $21.1 million salary cap look like good value for the New York Giants, though his 2021 production with just 37 catches for 521 yards and no touchdowns shows betting teams take.

The NFL has 14 wide receivers averaging $20 million this season, while Seattle’s DK Metcalf is averaging $31 million in cash this season.

Metcalf joined Kupp and others on three-year deals that could net them another big payday. Metcalf plans to work harder to be a leader now that he’s secure with his contract, and Seattle coach Pete Carroll is thrilled to have someone he calls a rising star signed up. in 2025.

“This young man is a top performer in every way, the way he applies himself, his expectations, the way he’s willing to work, and there’s nothing he’s not willing to do to make the most of his abilities and his potential,” Caroll said. “But it’s not just about football, and it’s not just about sport. It’s about how he attacks whatever he wants.

Exactly what the Seahawks — and others — are paying big bucks to see.

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AP professional football writer Josh Dubow and AP sportswriters John Wawrow, Dan Gelston and Tim Booth contributed to this report.

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