33rd Team Studies

Deep Dive: Which Cornerback Extension Was the Best Value?

Contract extensions take place year round in the NFL and this season there have been multiple cornerbacks who received extensions very close to the start of the regular season and during the regular season. Jalen Ramsey, Marlon Humphrey and Tre White have become the highest-paid cornerbacks in the NFL, all within a month. Here’s a deep dive into their individual contracts, current team, age, some key statistics and how they were acquired by their current team.

Jalen Ramsey

Team: Los Angeles Rams

How he was acquired: Traded for two first-round picks (2020 & 2021) and a fourth-round pick (2021) from the Jacksonville Jaguars

Age: 25 (Oct. 24, 1994)

Contract: 5 years, $100 million, $20 million AAV, $72.1 million guaranteed

Contract Date: 9/7/2020

Marlon Humphrey

Team: Baltimore Ravens

How he was acquired: Drafted by the Baltimore Ravens, 16th overall in the 2017 NFL Draft

Age: 24 (July 8, 1996)

Contract: 5 years, $98.75 million, $19.75 million AAV, $66 million guaranteed

Contract Date: 10/1/2020

Tre White

Team: Buffalo Bills

How he was acquired: Drafted by the Buffalo Bills, 27th overall in the 2017 NFL Draft

Age: 25 (Jan. 16, 1995)

Contract: 4 years, $69 million, $17.25 million AAV, $55.25 million guaranteed

Contract Date: 9/5/2020

The highest-paid cornerback in the NFL in terms of AAV, Jalen Ramsey, is the only cornerback of the three who was acquired via trade. Ramsey was acquired in a trade in 2019 with the Jaguars in return for a bundle of draft picks (shown above) but wasn’t extended by the Rams when he was acquired in 2019. This put the Rams in a tough position — they either had to sign him or lose him and all the draft picks they gave up for him. This helped him become the highest-paid cornerback days before the 2020 regular season began, a few days after Tre White became the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL. Ramsey’s contract was a record deal for defensive backs and was $2.75 million dollars annually more than White’s deal.

White and Humphrey were both acquired by their respective teams through the draft. Both were drafted in the first round in 2017, and both still had at least two years left on rookie contracts (both teams picked up their fifth-year options). Of the top five paid cornerbacks in the NFL (based on AAV), these two are the only cornerbacks on the list who were drafted and paid highest at their position. This is a great example of both teams drafting, developing and retaining talent.

Of the three contracts, one stands out in particular as being the best in terms of AAV and play. White has the best cornerback deal of the three, specifically because he is getting paid more than $2 million less than Humphrey and Ramsey and playing at the same or better level.

White has allowed the lowest completion percentage and total touchdowns, and has the most interceptions of the three over the last two seasons. While statistics don’t tell the whole story in determining which player is best, White has produced better numbers in some important categories. White’s contract set the floor for Ramsey’s contract and Ramsey’s contract became the example for Humphrey’s contract. The Bills paid White at the perfect time, resetting the market that was then reset by Ramsey.

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