Here’s what a contract extension for Texans wide receiver Nico Collins would look like

One of the more interesting extension candidates of this offseason is Nico Collins of the Houston Texans. Collins, a former third round pick out of Michigan, burst onto the scene with rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud. His 2023 almost doubled his combined 2021-2022 production.

Nico Collins fantasy football start/sit advice: What to do with Texans WR in Week 1 - DraftKings Network

Collins increased his target rate by 7%, his catch rate by 16%, his yards per catch by 23% and his yards, yards per route run and touchdowns by over 100%. It was a coming out party not unlike that of Chris Godwin’s 2019 season.

Despite Collins getting less routes the two had almost an identical number of targets due to a much higher target rate. Godwin had a slightly higher catch rate leading to six more catches. But Collins had a vastly superior efficiency rating (yards/route run).

Collins rates poorly compared to the rest in volume stats, but favorably on the more stable efficiency metrics (yds/rr, yds/rec, catch rate, target rate). In order for him to secure a deal of $20 million or more like Godwin and McLaurin he will have to sell the Texans that he is ascending to their level or higher. He can make this case by comparing his 2023 campaign to the other two receivers’ top seasons from their first three years.

Here, Collins once again shows up well in all of the efficiency metrics, but this time even hangs with the other two in volume stats like yards and touchdowns.

If Houston believes this trend is a sign of things to come it would make sense for them to try and lock Collins into a long-term deal. They have plenty of cap space. $24 million for 2024 at the time of this writing, with plenty of potential room in future years. Locking in Collins would be another step in taking advantage of Stroud’s rookie deal.

Despite the impressive 2023 season, Houston will likely push back that Collins isn’t a true #1 receiver as evidenced by the fact that his volume of routes trails all of those other receivers. Additionally, the team just traded for Stefon Diggs showing a lack of faith that Collins may be a true primary receiver.

Texans' Nico Collins rising as top receiver - Battle Red Blog

Godwin was in a similar position when he finally got his long-term extension after five years in the NFL. The Bucs already had a #1 receiver in Mike Evans when they re-upped with Godwin for three years and $60 million. He is the closest comp I could find for Collins.

Godwin’s APY as a percentage of the salary cap in the year he signed (2022) was 9.6%. That same percentage applied to this year’s $255.4 million cap would inflate to $24.5 million. But Godwin had to show sustained performance before he got his large contract, waiting until after his fifth season (he was franchise tagged in 2021) before he was able to get a multi-year extension.

McLaurin got an extension after year three, but, as illustrated above, it was with much more sustained production. If the Texans agree to a deal with Collins, it will likely be for a reduced deal, somewhere closer to Diontae Johnon’s two-year extension he signed before his fourth season in the league. That was for an $18.355 million APY (8.8% of salary cap). An equivalent deal in today’s dollars would be for $22.5 million per year and make him the 12th highest paid receiver in the NFL. More importantly it would place his APY $20k behind Diggs, keeping a pecking order in place that shows Diggs the team believes he is their true #1 receiver from a financial perspective.

Final Contract Projection: Three Years, $67.5 million – $35 million fully guaranteed

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