Thanks to the Baltimore Ravens and Tavon Young, there’s a new high-bar for slot cornerbacks on the market.
Check it out:
Young had about $2m on the books for 2019 already, so the the "new" money for this deal is just north of $25m, with an average of $8.6m per year.
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) February 21, 2019
The Ravens have signed cornerback Tavon Young to a deal that’ll keep him in John Harbaugh’s defense for at least the next three years. Meanwhile, Garafolo reports that the three-year extension will be worth an average of $8.6 million per season, which means the dude got paaaaaid. In fact, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the contract has a maximum value of $29 million, which would make Young the highest-paid nickel defensive back in football. So why do I bring it up? Two words, one name: Bryce Callahan.
Callahan has been a standout defender for longer than Young and is coming off a career year, albeit one that was shortened by injuries, just as he reaches free agency and forces the Bears to make a decision. But landing on appropriate value for the free-agent-to-be isn’t that easy. Callahan does have more game-time under his belt than Young and has obviously earned whatever pay-day is coming his way. But dollars aren’t unlimited (and cap space sure as hell isn’t), so what are we really talking about here?
Well, earlier in the offseason, Callahan’s market value was believed to be around $7 million/year. However, Young’s deal, which pays him upwards of $8.6M/ year, provides a case for Callahan to bump up his asking price. The Bears don’t have a ton of room to maneuver under the salary cap as is, so it’s fair to wonder what this’ll mean for a continued relationship between Callahan and Chicago.
As for timing … Representatives for free-agents-to-be can start talking to other NFL teams in 18 days, which means it’s coming down to the wire for the Bears to hand Callahan an extension to keep him off the market. The Bears have exclusive rights to talk to their cornerback until only March 11, but at least they have a clearer picture for what the cost of doing business will be to retain one of their best defenders.
Michael Cerami contributed to this post.