If it wasn't obvious before, it definitely is now: deadlines play a massive part in contract negotiations. It's been a long and drawn-out process, with reports wildly swinging from one direction to the next, but as of 4 p.m. ET Wednesday, all but one of the NFL's franchise-tagged players wound up with shiny new contract extensions.
It all started when the Kansas City Chiefs and outside linebacker Justin Houston agreed to the biggest contract of the day: a six-year deal worth $101 million, including $52.5 million guaranteed. Those numbers are massive, and Houston is now the highest-paid linebacker in the league. He eclipsed the five-year, $66 million deal Clay Matthews signed with the Green Bay Packers two years ago.
As noted by the good folks at Arrowhead Pride, Houston said that getting a big deal isn't like winning the lottery and that there should be no concerns about his motivation going forward. Fortunately, Houston has nothing to worry about, considering Chiefs fans as a whole were pretty psyched about the contract.
The next deal to come through was the smallest of the day, but biggest relative to his position. The New England Patriots signed Stephen Gostkowski to a long-term deal. Gostkowski received a pretty hefty pay raise with his new four-year, $17.2 million contract. His previous deal paid him $15.8 million over five years.
Dez Bryant, Demaryius Thomas
With about an hour to go until the deadline, both of the franchise-tagged receivers, Dez Bryant of the Dallas Cowboys and Demaryius Thomas of the Denver Broncos, signed new deals. Those deals were also incredibly similar and came just minutes apart.
Bryant signed a five-year, $70 million contract with Dallas, netting about $45 million guaranteed by next March. Thomas also signed for five years and for $70 million, with $43.5 million guaranteed. The deals are almost exactly the same, and although the NFL Players Association threatened to pursue a collusion case against both teams if the star receivers didn't get new deals, the Broncos were adamant that they did nothing wrong.
"The suggestion that our club may have colluded with another team about a negotiation is completely false and without any merit," the team said in a statement. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones also refuted the charge.
As far as how these deals were received, it seems like few are unhappy. The folks over at Broncos blog Mile High Report are taking it well, with "Yes" dominating the "Do you like this deal for Thomas?" poll option. As Blogging The Boys pointed out, just about everyone felt like Bryant deserved this deal.
The only player without a new deal is New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. Pierre-Paul's future is still a big question mark after he sustained a serious hand injury and had to have a finger amputated in a fireworks-related incident on the Fourth of July. That caused the Giants to withdraw a $60 million contract offer, but the franchise tag still seems to be on the table.
At some point, the Giants and Pierre-Paul will need to talk eventually, but after the accident, it was obvious a long-term deal wasn't going to be reached before Wednesday's deadline.