Following months of tension, the 49ers and Deebo Samuel finally set aside their differences Sunday, breaking bread to the tune of a three-year, $73.5-million extension that includes a whopping $58.1 million in guaranteed money. Samuel’s division rival, Seahawks Adonis DK Metcalf, was extended a similar olive branch last week, striking a three-year, $73-million contract that will keep him in the coffee capital through his age-28 season.
Samuel and Metcalf, along with Terry McLaurin and A.J. Brown (who attended college with Metcalf at Ole Miss), comprise one of the deepest receiver classes in recent memory, with each parlaying their success into lucrative extensions paying north of $20-million annually. Of the four, only Brown had to go elsewhere for his payday, joining the Eagles in a trade this offseason. That knowledge wasn’t lost on Brown, who, in reacting to news of Samuel’s extension, threw shade at his former team, the Titans, for lowballing their star receiver, then using the pick they acquired from Philadelphia to draft his replacement, Arkansas standout Treylon Burks.
Despite going over 1,000 yards receiving in two of his first three seasons, the Titans apparently didn’t see Brown as worthy of a long-term extension, or at least one that would position him among the upper-echelon of NFL receivers. Desperate for a burner to pair with Heisman winner DeVonta Smith, the Eagles went all in on Brown, rewarding their prized deep threat with a four-year, $100-million pact. The Titans would say they made a business decision, but Brown doesn’t seem to buy that excuse, harboring plenty of resentment toward the team that drafted him 51st overall in 2019, only to pawn him off on Philadelphia as soon as it came time to pay him.
The receiver market has exploded this offseason with Tyreek Hill, Davante Adams, Stefon Diggs, D.J. Moore and Super Bowl MVP Cooper Kupp all cashing in with monster extensions. That represents a drastic departure from the long-held philosophy that receivers, much like running backs, are more or less expendable, largely dismissed as products of their offensive schemes and the quarterbacks who throw to them. But in a pass-oriented league that has become increasingly shrewd in maximizing offensive talent, difference-making receivers like Brown are the new currency, regarded as essential building blocks rather than replaceable pieces counted on for the occasional splash play.
Eager to prove his doubters wrong, expect Brown to play with a bigger-than-usual chip on his shoulder when the Titans come to town for a Week 13 matchup December 4th at Lincoln Financial Field in South Philly.