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Jaylen Waddle Contract & Salary Breakdown

He’s one of the most exciting young playmakers in the NFL — Boardroom takes a deeper look at the Dolphins’ rookie scale Jaylen Waddle contract.

Two years ago, Miami Dolphins receiver Jaylen Waddle was at the University of Alabama, ready to begin what was heralded to be a Heisman-worthy season. Instead, he suffered a devastating leg injury, liming his junior campaign to just six games. He still averaged over 21 yards a reception and that kind of production led the dolphins to take him sixth overall in the 2021 NFL Draft. Waddle’s draft position earned him a fully guaranteed rookie deal totaling $27 million over four years.

Neither Waddle’s college injury nor his stature — he’s listed at just 5-foot-9 — affected his draft position nor his rookie production. In 2021, before quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins underwent a coaching change and traded for star wideout Tyreek Hill, Waddle managed to become one of the more-targeted pass-catchers in the NFL. Now, Waddle has very much off to a fine sophomore campaign in South Florida alongside the rip-roaring Cheetah.

With all this in mind, let’s check out the details of the Dolphins’ Jaylen Waddle contract at rookie scale.

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Jaylen Waddle Contract Details & Salary

All dollar figures via Spotrac.

Years: 4 (fifth-year team option)
Total value: $27,085,993
Average annual value: $6,771,498
Signing bonus: $17,058,904
Total guaranteed money: $27,085,993
Free agency: 2025 or 2026

Remaining annual salary on rookie deal:

2022: $1,891,182
2023: $3,122,364
2024: $4,353,544

In 2021, Waddle set the rookie record for receptions in a season with 104; the all-time record for most 100-catch seasons is six, jointly held by Antonio Brown and Brandon Marshall. For perspective, wideout GOAT Jerry Rice did it just four times.

Considering that Seattle’s DK Metcalf, Philadelphia’s AJ Brown, and San Francisco’s Deebo Samuel have combined for zero 100-catch seasons but all three received lucrative extensions this past offseason, expect Waddle and his representatives to consider the deals those three stars signed to be the absolute floor when his own negotiations come up.

What’s Jaylen Waddle’s Market Value?

Right now, due to the constraints baked into the NFL’s rookie scale salary rules, Waddle is:

  • The No. 38 highest-paid receiver by total contract value
  • The No. 43 receiver by average annual contract value
  • The No. 86 receiver by total 2022 compensation

Based on overall production and the expected growth of the league’s salary cap, there is significant evidence to suggest that Waddle’s first extension will be valued north of those signed by Samuel, Metcalf, Brown, or Tery McLaurin — and could even begin to approach the upper echelon of receiver contracts on a per-year basis, like those achieved by DeAndre Hopkins, Davante Adams, Cooper Kupp, and Hill. Yes, those guys have played long enough to earn multiple Pro Bowl and All-Pro selections and are on their second extensions, but striking distance of Hopkins’ $28 million average annual value (No. 2 all-time among receivers behind Adams’ $30 million) is very much in play if the salary market for wide receivers keeps trending upward as impressively as it has in 2022.

Let’s estimate Waddle’s first extension — if he generally stays on his current course — at an average annual value of $26 million, ahead of AJ Brown ($25 million) at No. 5 and just behind Cooper Kupp ($26.7 million) at No. 4. That would mean a contract of either:

  • Three years, $78,000,000
  • Four years, $104,000,000
  • Five years, $130,000,000

Nice work if you can get it.

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