Will Kellen Winslow Jr. be remembered for having some of the best hands on the football field? Or will he be for a premature end to a rookie season followed by a knee injury sustained thanks to a motorcycle accident, leading to multiple surgeries over the course of the last few seasons?
Either way, it may not matter to him as he is the recent recipient of a six-year, $36.1 million extension that makes him the highest-paid tight end in the history of the National Football League.
Of said deal, $20.1 million is guaranteed. And if that is not enough, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers could be on the hook for a total of $42.1 million if Winslow reaches a few incentives that are a part of his new deal.
Moments after Winslow was shipped to Tampa Bay for a few draft selections, many fans were shocked and understandably upset. A new coach and GM tandem come into town and start ripping a part a football team by trading one of the only players that seemed to actually want to be a part of the game, in this town. But when the dust settled and emotions calmed, it was a move that was met with open arms by the same people that started throwing things the second the news hit the wire.
The Browns needed draft picks, and they got just that. And not far behind on the hierarchy of needs, the team needed salary cap room; something that they would not have if they would have been strongarmed into paying Winslow more than he was currently making. His agent, the infamous Drew Rosenhaus, made it clear that his client was going to get a raise. Given his bout with injuries since being drafted, there has always been a “yea, but…” that has been tagged to the tight end; even during a Pro Bowl season of 82 catches for 1,100 yards.
The will, competitive edge, and talent level are all undoubtedly there. But the Browns could ill afford to pay anyone long-term money if they did not trust that Winslow’s knees would be able to honor his end of the commitment. The potential for Winslow to actually be the highest performing tight end - justifying this pay day - is undeniable. But the likelihood of it actually happening? Over a six-year period?
For a little bit of a comparison, the total salary that was paid to all of Cleveland’s tight ends (outside of K2) was $3.4 million. Winslow made $5.6 million on his own, and will be paid considerably more than this going forward.
With all of this said, if I were to set the over/under for games played within the next six years (the length of the deal) at 45, what side of the fence would you be on?