The Detroit Lions want to extend Amon-Ra St. Brown, here’s what his new contract will look like in 2024

We are closing in on free agency, which means teams are trying to extend players before they officially hit the market. That way, teams don’t have to worry about competing for their own player.

Lions WR Amon-Ra St. Brown says OC Ben Johnson stayed due to 'unfinished  business' - Yahoo Sports

It’s not just about free agency, though. There are plenty of players out there entering the final year, or penultimate year, of their current contract and they’ve played so well that their respective squad is looking to go ahead and extend them, anyway.

A to Z Sports has come up with our own extension projections for certain players this offseason. Whether the extensions happen or not remains to be seen, but at least you’ll have a viable resource to rely on during the time being.

So, without further ado, let’s check out what an extension for Detroit Lions’ two-time Pro Bowl receiver, Amon-Ra St. Brown, would look like.

Extension Projection for Amon-Ra St. Brown

Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

Very few receivers have been as productive as Amon-Ra St. Brown over the past three seasons. With 412 targets, 315 catches, 3,588 yards and 21 touchdowns, St. Brown has become the picture of high-end consistency. He is also one of the biggest reasons the Lions have gone from a moribund franchise to near-Super Bowl participants.

Entering the final year of his rookie contract, he will assuredly try to follow in the recent footsteps of other young star receivers who were able to negotiate a big money extension prior to their fourth season in the NFL. St. Brown’s extension will be one of the most fascinating in recent history.

First, let’s look at his production as it compares to some of his contemporaries. Three receivers signed large extensions following their third year: Deebo Samuel, D.K. Metcalf and A.J. Brown.

In all of the counting stats, St. Brown easily eclipses the other three receivers. Additionally, his catch rate and routes per target are the best of the bunch.

But St.Brown’s yards per reception pales in comparison to the rest of the group. This is for two distinct and separate reasons. When comparing him to Brown and Metcalf, his average depth of target is over five yards behind. And while his average depth of target is slightly ahead of Samuel’s, his yards after catch per reception is almost half. One of the most stable metrics when evaluating receiver productivity is yards per route run and here St. Brown ranks behind both Brown and Samuel – but ahead of Metcalf.

Much of the efficiency disparities can be attributed to an enormous difference in how the group was used over their first three years. St. Brown has played 64% of the time from the slot since entering the NFL. None of the other three receivers had eclipsed 30%.

Traditionally, slot receivers have not been paid near the top of the market. The same season Brown, Metcalf and Samuel signed their deals (all for $23-$25 million APY), three slot receivers signed long-term extensions. Chris Godwin inked a deal with a $20 million APY, Hunter Renfrow signed for $15.85 million per year and Christian Kirk got $18 million per annum.

Godwin looks to be a natural comp for St. Brown. And I think it’s the comp the Lions will most likely open their offer with. Godwin’s 2022 deal was for three years and $60 million. His $20 million APY was on a salary cap of $208.2 million and represented 9.6% of that year’s cap.

Adjusted for this year’s $255.4 million salary cap, Godwin’s deal would translate to an APY of $24.5 million this year. But St. Brown’s camp would be wise to try and argue for another slot receiver as his best comp.

Cooper Kupp also signed an extension in 2022 for an APY of $26.7 million over three years. Kupp, also a receiver who finds himself in the slot roughly two thirds of the time, was coming off of a three-year stretch that saw him catch 331 passes for 4,082 yards and 29 touchdowns. That was capped by one of the best receiver seasons ever in 2021 in which he came up 53 yards shy of 2,000 while hauling in 16 touchdowns.

St. Brown’s productivity doesn’t match Kupp’s and he doesn’t have the scoring pedigree or platform season to match either.

But two things are important here.

First, there was a $6.7 million APY spread between Kupp and Godwin in their extensions signed in the same year. Adjusted for this year’s cap and that spread grows to $8.25 million. The more St.Brown can skew his value towards Kupp’s, the better for his extension.

Secondly, St. Brown has very few peers when it comes to target share, and Kupp is one of them. The two players have near identical routes per target in the mid 3.8 range. Every other receiver detailed has been at 4.0 or higher. Last year, only four receivers had a route per target ratio lower than St. Brown’s 3.65. They were Tyreek Hill (currently the highest paid receiver in the NFL), Davante Adams (2nd highest APY), CeeDee Lamb (also set for a contract extension that will likely put him at or above the Adams/Hill range), and Keenan Allen ($20 million APY signed back in 2020).

Using Godwin’s deal as a floor and Kupp’s as a ceiling we get a range of $20 – 26.7 million. Both deals were signed in 2022 so adjusting for this year’s salary cap we get a range of $24.5 – $32.75 million. The midpoint of that range is $28.625 million per year. That would make St. Brown the second-highest paid receiver in the league.

While I don’t see him quite getting to that mark I do see St. Brown commanding $26.5 million per year on a four-year deal.

Final Contract Projection: Four years, $106 million – $45 million fully guaranteed

Be sure to check back in the coming days and weeks for more extension projections.

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