Cowboys: Grading CeeDee Lamb’s projected next contract

CeeDee Lamb, Dallas Cowboys (Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)
CeeDee Lamb, Dallas Cowboys (Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Dallas Cowboys are expected to pay CeeDee Lamb a king’s ransom on his next contract. Is he worth it? 

The Dallas Cowboys went 12-5 in the NFL’s toughest division last season. While questions remain about Mike McCarthy in the role of head coach, the collective talent on Dallas’ roster — especially on offense — makes it impossible not to buy them as a potential 2023 contender.

No talent shines brighter on the offensive end than CeeDee Lamb. The third-year receiver out of Oklahoma earned his second Pro Bowl berth last season, accruing 1,359 yards and nine touchdowns on 107 catches. He started all 17 games and was the primary target for both Dak Prescott and Cooper Rush.

Lamb is under contract through 2024, with the Cowboys already having exercised his $18 million fifth-year option. Then, his rookie contract expires and Lamb has the potential to hit free agency if the Cowboys don’t take the necessary steps to pay him.

Of course, Dallas is expected to pay top-dollar for one of the best receivers in football. Is his lofty projected annual value really worth it?

Grading hypothetical CeeDee Lamb extension with the Dallas Cowboys

Jon Machota of the Athletic projects Lamb’s next contract in the range of $25-30 million per year. Miami’s Tyreek Hill is the highest-paid WR in the NFL right now after signing a four-year extension worth $120 million ($72 million guaranteed). Could that be the kind of number Dallas is looking at with Lamb?

The Cowboys are probably the biggest revenue generator in the NFL. Dallas has not been stingy when it comes to extending other big names on the roster. Dak Prescott got $160 million over four years. Why spend so much on Prescott if you’re not going to surround him with premium weapons.

The 6-foot-2 Lamb is one of the NFL’s most explosive big-play threats, with 42 receptions over 15 yards in 2022. Prescott doesn’t have the most powerful arm cannon, but Lamb can reward deep throws and he’s plenty capable of torching slow defenders after the catch. Dallas’ offense doesn’t have the same pop without Lamb on the outside.

Dallas has one of the best offensive lines in football and an extremely versatile lead running back in Tony Pollard. The Cowboys’ offense can beat defenses every which way on paper. Lamb unlocks so much short-yardage opportunity by stretching the defense downfield. The run game, meanwhile, can set up Lamb for big gains sprinting up the sideline. Losing his presence in the WR corps would be catastrophic.

For the record, Lamb’s next contract in this hypothetical lands in the range of four years and $120 million with a volume of guaranteed money similar to Tyreek Hill’s contract in Miami. That’s a lot of money for a non-QB skill player, but it’s absolutely a number the Cowboys should be willing to stomach.

Grade: A-

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