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Deebo Samuel: How Much is His Rookie Contract Underpaying Him?

Last Updated: February 1, 2022
Yes, rookie scale is what it is. Those are the rules. But Deebo Samuel’s on-field production for the 49ers compared to his salary is truly a sight to behold.

The San Francisco 49ers are one win away from their second Super Bowl appearance in three years. And while it takes multiple high-quality parts and a bit of good fortune for a team to become a championship contender, it also requires outstanding production from individual stars.

And on offense this season out in Santa Clara, that conversation begins with Deebo Samuel, the 2019 second-round pick out of South Carolina who has made good not just as a pass-catcher, but as an X-factor out of the backfield.

Necessity leads to innovation, and Samuel has innovated Kyle Shanahan’s offense all the way to the doorstep of NFC glory. But that begs the question: how much more value is the All-Pro skill player creating than his rookie scale salary is paying him?

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Deebo Samuel Salary & Contract Details

Age: 26
Contract length: 4 years
Total Value: $7,247,476
Average annual value: (AAV): $1,811,869
2021 salary: $1,194,760
Free agency: 2023

Where Does Deebo Samuel’s Salary Rank Among His Peers?

Highest-paid WRs on Rookie Deals by 2021 $

1. Ja’Marr Chase (CIN): $20.43M
2. Jaylen Waddle (MIA): $17.72M
3. Mike Williams (LAC): $15.68M
4. Devonta Smith (PHI): $12.67M
5. Kadarius Toney (NYG): $7.99M
6. Rashod Bateman (BAL): $7.18M
7. Elijah Moore (NYJ): $4.52M
8. Rondale Moore (ARI): $3.06M
9. Michael Gallup (DAL): $2.44M
10. Christian Kirk (ARI): $2.43M

35. Deebo Samuel (SF): $1.19M

Highest-paid NFL WRs by AAV

1. DeAndre Hopkins (ARI): $27.25M
2. Julio Jones (TEN): $22M
3. Keenan Allen (LAC): $20.03M
4. Amari Cooper (DAL): $20M
5. Michael Thomas (NO): $19.25M
6. Tyreek Hill (KC): $18M
7. Kenny Golladay (NYG): $18M
8. Allen Robinson (CHI): $17.88M
9. Tyler Lockett (SEA): $17.25M
10. Mike Evans (TB): $16.5M

72. Deebo Samuel (SF): $1.81M

Year-by-year details of Deebo Samuel’s four-year, $7.247 million contract with the Bengals (via Spotrac)

Deebo Samuel’s Regular Season Stats & Accolades

Catches: 77 (No. 26 in NFL)
Receiving yards: 1,405 (No. 5 in NFL)
Yards per catch: 18. 2 (No. 1 in NFL)
Receiving TDs: 6 (Tied for No. 25 in NFL)

Carries: 59 (No. 78 in NFL)
Rushing yards: 365 (No. 62 in NFL)
Rush TDs: 8 (Tied for No. 10 in NFL)

Total touches: 136 (No. 47 in NFL)
Total scrimmage yards: 1,770 (No. 3 in NFL)
Yards per touch: 13.0 (No. 3 in NFL)
Total TDs: 14 (Tied for No. 7 in NFL)

2021 Pro Bowl

2021 First Team All-Pro

NFL single-season record for rushing TDs by a wide receiver

How Much Did Deebo Samuel Make Per TD This Season?

For the regular season, the 49ers star man scored six touchdowns through the air and added eight more on the ground for a total of 14. At a 2021 salary of $1,194,76, that’s a tidy $85,340 per TD.

As for this season’s highest-paid NFL wide receiver overall — Seattle’s Tyler Lockett — we’re looking at eight total touchdowns against a 2021 salary of $21,000,000, which translates to $2,625,000 per TD.

That’s a pretty incredible contrast. And fittingly, Deebo and Lockett are division rivals.

And just for kicks, let’s calculate the same rate for receivers from each team remaining in the postseason

  • Tyreek Hill (KC)
    • 9 TDs @ $15,600,500 salary: $1,733,388.89 per TD
  • Ja’Marr Chase (CIN)
    • 13 TDs @ $20,434,284: $1,571,868 per TD
  • Brandon Aiyuk (SF)
    • 7 TDs @ $1,179,606: $168,515.14 per TD
  • Cooper Kupp (LAR)
    • 16 TDs @ $13,000,000: $812,500 per TD.

What is Deebo Samuel’s True Market Value?

Deebo Samuel will be a free agent following the 2022 season, and whether he re-signs with the 49ers or secures the bag elsewhere, the man is going to get absolutely paid. You’d be hard-pressed to find a player across the whole, wide NFL who creates more value — to say nothing of the 1-of-1 nature of his two-way contributions on offense in today’s league — than the man born Tyshun Samuel Jr.

Spotrac estimates that Samuel’s next contract ought to establish him in the proximity of the No. 6 highest-paid wide receiver in the league. If we’re running with that benchmark and applying it to his current rate of compensation, that means.

  • An hypothetical 2021 salary bump from $1,194,760 to $17,718,904 — what Miami’s Jaylen Waddle makes as the No. 6 highest-paid receiver by 2021 salary. That’s a massive increase of 1,383.05%.
  • A bump in average annual contract value from $1,811,869 to $18,000,000 — what Tyreek Hill makes as the No. 6-ranked AAV receiver in the league. That’s a healthy leap of 893.45%.

The final verdict: It’s true that literally any player on a rookie scale contract that performs at or near a Pro Bowl level is going to be massively underpaid by the numbers (especially one taken outside the first round). But what San Francisco is getting on a per-dollar basis from Deebo Samuel is simply outlandish. When free agency comes, a tenfold pay raise is absolutely in the cards.

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