Being a sports fan can be a thrilling and enthralling venture because we tie emotions and feelings to each season. To each game. To each play. We get to experience the highs of an overtime touchdown catch to send your team to the Super Bowl, but sometimes in turn we must also suffer through the pain of not being able to complete one more pass in order to win it.
Feeling feelings is paramount to being a fan, but absolutely toxic to being a general manager or coach. The best front offices do not tie emotions to transactions, which is why it's so confusing that the Seattle Seahawks gave a second-round tender to Jermaine Kearse on Friday. Because the Seahawks appear to have a great front office, but there is no evidence to suggest that Kearse is worth $2,356,000.
He may not even be worth $1,936,000.
A lot of fans have heard this news and proposed the notion that $2,356,000 is barely anything for an NFL team to spend on a player, let alone for the second-best receiver on the team (For the record, I'd kill a person for $13,466, which is almost 175 murders to get to $2,356,000) but the problem with that sentence isn't that you're paying your second-best receiver $2.356 million, it's that Kearse is your second-best receiver.
Instead of assuming that $2.356 million is a small salary for a player of Kearse's caliber, you should first look at what caliber of receiver is making less than that.
First of all, based on average annual salary, it would currently rank as the 59th-highest salary for a wide receiver. Technically speaking, you could argue that's right where you'd pay a low-end number two receiver but again, Kearse is not a number two receiver and C) Seattle could still use $2.356 million to sign or draft a receiver of Kearse's value and also have money left over.
Receivers on rookie deals that make an average annual salary lower than $2.356m include Brandin Cooks, Kendall Wright, Kelvin Benjamin, DeAndre Hopkins, and Cordarrelle Patterson. If the Seahawks drafted a receiver at 31, they'd probably be paying him less than $2.356m. Which of course they can still do (and very well might) but then why are they paying the same amount to the receiver that will presumably be lower than him on the depth chart?
Now, receivers on free agent deals last season making less than what Kearse is set to make next year include:
- Miles Austin ($2m)
- Jerricho Cotchery ($1.603m)
- Lance Moore ($1.5m)
- Kenny Britt ($1.4m)
- Brad Smith ($1.15m)
- Santana Moss ($1.02m)
- Robert Meachem ($855k)
In this year's free agent class, Jacoby Jones signed a 2-year, $5.5m deal with the San Diego Chargers, meaning that they also signed a number four receiver, but one who also returns kicks and punts, and did so for less per year than the Seahawks got Kearse for. Jones only had nine catches last year, but he had 67 catches over the previous two years. Kearse has 60 catches over the last two years.
Other mid-to-low-end free agents this year include Harry Douglas, Brandon Gibson, Denarius Moore, Donnie Avery, Leonard Hankerson, Ted Ginn, as well as Meachem, Austin, Moore and Britt. Even Mike Williams or Hakeem Nicks could end up costing less than Kearse.
But is Kearse, a receiver who has made the game-winning touchdown catch in each of the last two NFC Championships, an underrated number four who is ready to blossom into a high-end number two? Probably not.
Kearse has been in the NFL for three years. The fact that he's gone from undrafted free agent to this -- overpaid or not -- is incredible. However, his regular season high for yards is 78, and for catches it's five (done twice) and his career catch rate is 55.3%.
Last season, Kearse was forced into 821 snaps, second-most among receivers on the team after the 909 of Doug Baldwin. That was not the plan when Seattle had Percy Harvin and drafted Paul Richardson and Kevin Norwood. He caught 38 of 64 targets (59.4%) and finished with 537 yards and one touchdown. He had 8.4 yards per target and three drops.
It's the type of production you could only find from so many places. Say someone like... Jarius Wright.
A receiver for the Minnesota Vikings that most fans probably couldn't tell apart from Kendall Wright or Jarius Horschowitz, Wright caught 42 of 60 targets (70%) for 588 yards (9.8 yards per target) and two touchdowns. He had two big games over 100 yards and was paid a base salary of $570,000 last year, the third season of his rookie deal, which will be bumped to $1.542 million next season.
The point isn't that the Seahawks shouldn't want to hang onto Kearse, because they should. It's not that he's below NFL caliber, because he clearly belongs on this level. The point is that $2.356 million is too much money for a number four receiver. They could have gotten a player with a similar skillset and ceiling at perhaps even half the price and if the front office truly removed all emotions from player transactions, they wouldn't even pay a player $122,331 or $13,405 more than he's worth.
Seattle still doesn't have a number two receiver. Giving Kearse the second round tender didn't change that.