Steelers fans must prepare to stomach a record-setting George Pickens extension

George Pickens figures to be the guy this season, and a good year could propel him to earning north of 30 million dollars a season.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver George Pickens (14)
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver George Pickens (14) / Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers seemingly caught lightning in a bottle when they landed George Pickens in the second round of the NFL draft a few seasons ago. While the play around him has held him back, he has still gone on to be quite the success. His tape proves that, as he displays the talent you dream of in a top receiver.

His third season should be a pivotal one, as his offense was improved with the addition of Russell Wilson. He is also the only realistic top receiver option on this roster, meaning he should earn the majority of targets. He is eligible to be extended next offseason, so everything is lining up for him to be in line for a new deal roughly a year from now.

For those of you who hate big contracts, then you are going to be against the idea of inking Pickens to a new deal. The receiver market blew up this offseason, and there are a handful of other names who will be looking for a new deal next offseason that will further inflate this number. Assuming Pickens has a good season, he will easily be commanding 30 million or more per season.

The Steelers are in expensive waters

The receiver market was heavily inflated this offseason, as Justin Jefferson had his mega-deal reset the market with his commanding 35 million dollars per season. A handful of other deals has now allowed four receivers to be making over 30 million dollars a year.

That number is likely to be even more by next season. Stefon Diggs, Tee Higgins, CeeDee Lamb, and Brandon Aiyuk are in the final year of their respective deals. Each will likely be angling for 30 million a season at least. You also have Jamar Chase looking for a new deal, and he will likely top Jefferson.

Assuming Pickens produces as he did a year ago (1000 or more yards and a healthy amount of scores), he will want to be paid as a top-ten receiver. Given the other deals that are likely to shake out, that will probably give him a floor of at least 28 million dollars a season.

What happens if he really balls out though? He has proven to be a special talent and with the options around him limited, he could break out this season. This could launch his asking price into the top five or even the top three, and you would likely be approaching 35 million a season by this time next year.

That seems like a crazy amount of money, but the market dictates the price, and you can’t expect Pickens to willingly take less because other receivers have inflated the market. Assuming he performs well again this year, you also can't expect him to be content playing on his rookie deal.

He would be one bad injury away from missing out on life-changing money. He would likely do some sort of holdout to get a new deal, and if the Steelers don’t play ball, I imagine that he will seek a trade. Assuming he plays well, we could be looking at either paying him top dollar or trading him away.

Elite talent doesn’t grow on trees, and while the cost would be great, I would be all for getting a new deal done. With so much uncertainty in the quarterback room, having a consistent top option will be key. For those of you who agree and want him around long-term, be ready to stomach a huge average annual value though, as his market will likely be red-hot.

Next. 4 most underrated and unappreciated moves of the Steelers offseason. 4 most underrated and unappreciated moves of the Steelers offseason. dark