Over the past two seasons, the Dallas Cowboys have had an embarrassment of riches at the wide receiver position. From the moment CeeDee Lamb fell into their lap in the 2020 NFL Draft, the position group became stacked as he joined Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup, both of who were coming off of a 1,100+ season. It shouldn’t be all that surprising that since the trio joined forces, Dak Prescott has averaged over 300 yards passing per game.
The Cowboys traded away Amari Cooper this offseason, dumping his $20 million per year salary. They also re-signed Gallup to a new five-year deal. The team won’t have the arsenal they previously had, but it’s still a pretty good group.
In the meantime, teams in the NFC East continue to re-load at wide receiver. Some teams have used first-round picks to get a new receiver, others have spent lavishly for a former star from another team, and some... have done both. Where does that leave the Cowboys in comparison to their divisional foes?
Let’s look at each team’s three starting wide receivers (depth charts courtesy of ESPN.com) and see which team has invested the most in the position in terms of average annual salary (cap figures courtesy of Spotrac.com) and draft capital (points awarded based on NFL Trade Value Chart).
MOST EXPENSIVE CONTRACTS
1. New York Giants: $32,190,501
- Kenny Golladay = $18 million
- Sterling Shepard = $10.8 million
- Kadarius Toney = $3.4 million
When you look at each team’s WR group and evaluate just based on talent, it becomes very nauseating for Giants fans to see this underperforming group rate out as the most expensive trio in the NFC East. But that’s how the Giants do business. In recent years they’ve spent more in free agency on players like Golden Tate and Kenny Golladay in an effort to fill the hole left by Odell Beckham Jr. Unfortunately, the Giants' offense has struggled as they have finished in the bottom half in yards gained in each of the last six seasons. The team signed Golladay to a huge four-year, $72 million deal last year only to see him put up 572 yards receiving and never find the end zone.
2. Philadelphia Eagles: $30,901,514
A.J. Brown = $25 million
DeVonta Smith = $5 million
Quez Watkins = $866,166
The Eagles have tried all sorts of things at wide receiver whether it be early draft picks or grabbing a star from another team. Just a few years ago they gave Alshon Jeffery a lot of money to be the team’s WR1, but that didn’t pan out and he was released last offseason costing the team $5.5 million in dead money. They’ve remodeled the group by making huge investments in each of the last two drafts, with the most recent one being the trade with Tennessee to acquire A.J. Brown. The Eagles immediately turned around and signed Brown to a four-year, $100 million deal.
3. Washington Commanders: $16,224,008
- Curtis Samuel = $11.5 million
- Johan Dotson = $3.8 million
- Terry McLaurin = $961,918
Washington’s biggest financial investment came last season when they signed Curtis Samuel to a three-year, $34.5 million deal after the veteran put up a couple of solid seasons in Carolina. Unfortunately, Samuel only caught six passes for 27 yards last year over the span of five games. The team’s cheapest investment in terms of cost is their star receiver Terry McLaurin who is averaging 1,030 yards receiving over his first three seasons in the NFL. Of course, he won’t be cheap for much longer as he is in the final year of his rookie deal.
4. Dallas Cowboys: $16,190,003
- Michael Gallup = $11.5 million
- CeeDee Lamb = $3.5 million
- James Washington = $1,187,500
The Cowboys barely fall below Washington due to their first-round WR (Dotson) costing a few hundred thousand more than the Cowboys' young first-round WR (Lamb). The Cowboys are also aided in this department by free agent James Washington being listed as the team’s WR3 as he’s slightly cheaper than third-round pick Jalen Tolbert.
MOST DRAFT CAPITAL SPENT
1. Philadelphia Eagles: 2,375 total points
- A.J. Brown = 1st Round (18th overall) + 3rd Round (101st overall)
- DeVonte Smith = 1st Round (12th overall) + 3rd Round (84th overall)
- Quez Watkins = 6th Round (200th overall)
The Eagles blow this out of the water as their draft investments at the wide receiver position never seems to stop. And it would be even higher if 2020 first-round pick Jalen Reagor (selected two picks after Lamb) still held a starting spot, but he’s been jumped by Quez Watkins who the team selected that same year towards the end of the draft. Philly’s failed first-round WR attempts are pretty plentiful as they have taken several players who have severely underperformed. Besides Reagor, they have also selected J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (second round in 2019) and Nelson Agholor (first round in 2015), all of who haven’t lived up to their draft price. The Eagles are hoping to buck that trend after a very good season from last year’s first-rounder DeVonte Smith.
2. New York Giants: 1,350 total points
- Kadarius Toney = 1st Round (20th overall)
- Sterling Shepard = 2nd Round (40th overall)
- Kenny Golladay = Signed as a free agent (no draft capital used)
The Giants have a little bit of everything when it comes to their WR group. Just like the rest of the NFC East, they have their own first-round WR in Kadarius Toney and they also re-signed their second-round pick from 2016 in Sterling Shepard. The Giants would score out a little higher if this year’s second-round pick Wan’Dale Robinson was also included, but he’s currently not listed as a starter on the depth chart.
3. Washington Commanders: 1,205 total points
- Johan Dotson = 1st Round (16th overall)
- Terry McLaurin = 3rd Round (76th overall)
- Curtis Samuel = Signed as a free agent (no draft capital used)
Washington has drafted at least one receiver in each of the last nine drafts. Most of the time, they are later-round investments, but they have gone early a couple of times. This year they attacked early by selecting Johan Dotson, who is the first Day 1 WR they’ve taken since 2016 when they picked similarly named Josh Doctson. Hopefully, for them, this Dotson runs better because the last one didn’t perform so well.
4. Dallas Cowboys: 1,135 total points
- CeeDee Lamb = 1st Round (17th overall)
- Michael Gallup = 3rd Round (81st overall)
- James Washington = Signed as a free agent (no draft capital used)
Similar to cap cost, the Cowboys edge out Washington because of Washington. That is, they slip just under the Commanders due to Jalen Tolbert not being listed as the WR3 starter. Regardless, not having the investment cost of Amari Cooper on the books pushes the Cowboys down this list as they immediately go from first to worst in terms of draft investment.
Here are the first-round WR investments over the last few years by the NFC East teams:
Based on total investment, the WR group is ranked as follows...
- Philadelphia Eagles
- New York Giants
- Washington Commanders
- Dallas Cowboys
Now the question begs, how will they rank on the field? The Cowboys may no longer have the best WR group in the division, but are they that far off?
Who has a better WR group?
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And how would you rate the Cowboys compared to the other two teams?
Who has the better WR group?
This poll is closed
New York Giants