How Devin Hester's contract compares to other #2 WRs

HONOLULU - JANUARY 30: Devin Hester #23 of the Chicago Bears carries the ball against the American Football Conference (AFC) during the 2011 NFL Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium on January 30 2011 in Honolulu Hawaii. (Photo by Kent Nishimura/Getty Images)

Without question, Devin Hester returned to form this past year to take sole possession of the return touchdown record from Brian Mitchell, and if we were paying him solely to be a returner, it would still be money well spent. However, there are often undercurrents and discussion about Hester's worth as a receiver, specially in relation to his contracted salary. We're going to take a quick look at not only how much Hester is set to make, but how much he has already made, and what his salary looks like in relation to other number two receivers in the league.

First things first, courtesy of Rotoworld, a quick overview of his contract signed in '08

Signed a four-year, $40.975 million contract extension through 2013. The deal contains $15 million guaranteed, including a $5 million signing bonus and $5 million roster bonuses in both the second and third years. Another $18.939 million is available through performance-based escalators. $250,000 annual workout bonuses are also available. 2011: $1.5835 million, 2012: $1.646 million, 2013: $1,857,523 (+ $10 million "deescalating" roster bonus), 2014: Free Agenten

To help us get a better grasp on exactly what that all means, and what it looks like actually applied to the cap, USA Today helps us along.

SEASON TEAM BASE SALARY SIGN BONUS CAP VALUE SALARY POSITION
2009 Chicago Bears $ 550,000 $ 6,885,833 $ 5,750,000 Wide Receiver
2008 Chicago Bears $ 445,000 $ 5,000,000 $ 1,628,333 $ 5,492,500 Wide Receiver

So, taking a look at all these numbers, what can we take from them just from these glances? Those performance-based escalators that are mentioned were wide receiver based escalators, so if he is having number two caliber seasons, it's incredibly unlikely that he will be hitting many, if any of them. This past year was the last year for his five million a year roster bonus, so if we have football next year he'll be effectively making 1.6 million dollars a year, plus whatever bonuses he's earned. Now lets take a look at his receiving stats last year, and see exactly where he ranked.

2010 Stats From ESPN

PLAYER

TEAM

REC

TAR

YDS

AVG

TD

LONG

20+

YDS/G

Devin Hester, WR

CHI

40

73

475

11.9

4

39

4

29.7

Considering the lack of ability to throw the deep ball, generally seen as Hester's strongest asset, his numbers were in line with what I would expect. These are the numbers earned though, so that is what we will work with in determining his worth. I'm going to just pick three guys that have some form of name recognition, and have fairly comparable stats from last year.

First up, Jerricho Cotchery.

PLAYER

TEAM

REC

TAR

YDS

AVG

TD

LONG

20+

YDS/G

Jerricho Cotchery, WR

NYJ

41

87

433

10.6

2

49

3

30.9

So, we've got one more reception with about 15 more targets, less yards, lower average, fewer touchdowns, but about the same. His salary info?

Rotoworld:

2011: $1.8 million, 2012: $2 million, 2013: Free Agent

Roughly the same yearly salary now, and with the balance of the difference in their overall contracts are fairly negligible because they are almost entirely in incentives that aren't hittable for Devin as long as he stays at his current level of production.

Next up on the hit parade? Roy Williams.

PLAYER

TEAM

REC

TAR

YDS

AVG

TD

LONG

20+

YDS/G

Roy Williams, WR        

DAL       

37          

64          

530        

14.3       

5             

63          

11          

35.3

Fewer receptions, but fewer targets, and more overall yards. Higher average, more TD, and more yards per game. I'd say Roy was more productive than Hester. Now, how much is he making?

Rotoworld:

2010 base salary. 2010: $3,452,629 (+ $9.5 million guaranteed option bonus), 2011: $5,109,971, 2012: $6.802 million, 2013: $8.498 million (Voidable Years), 2014: $9 million, 2015: Free Agent

Wow, this is probably the worst example of a guy actually being overpaid that I will show. Even without drilling down to figure out the numbers including the guaranteed option bonus he's making almost double what Hester is, for a slight amount more production. 

Last up, Lee Evans.

PLAYER

TEAM

REC

TAR

YDS

AVG

TD

LONG

20+

YDS/G

Lee Evans, WR

BUF       

37          

82          

578        

15.6       

4             

54          

9             

44.5

Lee Evans, also known as one of the only reasons to pay attention to the Bills the last few years, is here in all of his glory. Less receptions, on more targets. More yards, for a higher average. One more TD, with a higher average per game. I'd say Evans is probably a better receiver than Hester in most years, so what does his contract look like?

Rotoworld:

Signed a four-year, $37.25 million contract extension through 2012. The deal contains $18.25 million guaranteed, including a first-year salary of $11,730,770 and a $3 million roster bonus in year three. Another $3 million is available through incentives. 2011-2012: $3.275 million (+ $1 million roster bonuses), 2013: Free Agent

Again, his yearly salary without taking into account bonuses is almost double what Devin Hester's is, even without the bonuses being taken into account. Suffice to say, Evans isn't nearly the rip off that Williams is, but he's still more costly than Hester or Cotchery.

So without even taking into account what an asset Hester is on special teams, he's actually a fairly respectable bargain in the high dollar world of wide receivers in the NFL. The next time someone starts screaming that Hester is overpaid and needs to produce more, be sure to tell them that he might need to produce more, but he sure isn't overpaid. 

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