When Stephen Jones spoke with 105.3 the Fan earlier this week, he presented some interesting news. In his appearance on the radio station, he said that signing extensions for wide receiver CeeDee Lamb and cornerback Trevon Diggs was on the team’s “radar”. Both are selections from the Cowboys’ 2020 draft class and Diggs is in his final year, while the Cowboys have picked up Lamb’s fifth-year option.
Using the recent cornerback contracts that reset the market at the position, we projected how much Trevon Diggs would cost the Cowboys, which you can see here. Similarly, we’re going to do the same when it comes to Lamb and project how much the Cowboys would have to open their wallets to re-sign him. But first, let’s assess what makes Lamb deserving of a new contract with America’s Team.
Falling to the Cowboys with the 18th pick of the 2020 draft, and the selection leaving divisional foes in shambles, the Cowboys were thankful to count their lucky stars for getting a talent of Lamb’s caliber. Instantaneously, Lamb developed a reputation for circus catches and a flare for receiving acrobatics. Despite playing with three different quarterbacks, Lamb had 74 catches for 935 yards and scored seven touchdowns in 16 games in his rookie season, which was second among rookie receivers in receiving yards. Lamb followed up his rookie season with even better numbers and earned a trip to his first Pro Bowl.
2022 easily was the most pressure Lamb faced in his short career. Following the team’s trade of their former top receiver, Amari Cooper, and the ailing Michael Gallup missing to start the season, Lamb was tasked with anchoring the Cowboys’ passing attack. Without a certified passing threat opposite him, and the absence of Dak Prescott who was also injured to complicate matters, the team did struggle in the passing game. The struggles of the offense early in 2022 raised questions about Lamb’s viability to take the mantle as the top dog in Dallas, with even Jerry Jones calling Lamb into question.
Every CeeDee Lamb touchdown during the 2022 season #Cowboys pic.twitter.com/FjZw28WvKr— Ernie (@es3_09) April 4, 2023
Lamb responded in a big way, posting the best numbers of his career, 107 receptions for 1,359 yards that included five games where he went over 100 yards. He was selected to his second consecutive Pro Bowl after the 2022 season and named a Second-Team All-Pro. In just three short seasons, Lamb has earned the reputation as one of the game’s best wide receivers with a unique skill set. Lamb is a nightmare for opposing defenses. He’s also got terrific ball skills and is an excellent route runner, demonstrating a great repertoire at only 24 years old. There’s no question that Lamb deserves his due, but let’s see how much.
When looking at the highest-paid wide receivers on the market, the top two salaries are Tyreek Hill ($30M), and Devante Adams ($28M). After being traded to the Miami Dolphins, Hill signed just days after Adams signed his with the Las Vegas Raiders, and as a result received a slightly higher salary than Adams. When it comes to guarantees, Hill’s contract is $72.2M (60% of the total contract), and Adams’ is $65.7M (46%).
If we’re to keep the salary projection modest and say Lamb resets the market by the same percent differential in Hill’s salary and Adams’ salary respectively, that’s an increase of 9%. That equates to a projected salary of $32.7M for CeeDee Lamb on a new contract. Also, let’s decide that the percentage of Lamb’s guaranteed contract equals Hill’s since Lamb is still a young player. Under these parameters on a five-year contract, Lamb’s new deal with the Cowboys would be five-years, $163.5M with $98.1M guaranteed.
On whether the front office would fork over that type of money to CeeDee Lamb, they probably would but it may take a while. Dallas has to resolve the contract status of Dak Prescott very soon. Also, they are surely keeping tabs on important contracts like Trevon Diggs and superstar linebacker Micah Parsons. The team still has already enacted Lamb’s fifth-year option to buy themselves some extra time. However, as we’ve seen before it’s best to get ahead of the market sooner than later. Ultimately, both sides will get a deal done and it’s solely a matter of when not if.