Will Cowboys WR CeeDee Lamb Hold Out for a New Contract?

Earning a first-team All-Pro berth heading into his contract year gave CeeDee Lamb tremendous leverage. Will the Cowboys WR hold out for an extension?

CeeDee Lamb couldn’t have picked a better time to post a career-best season. The Dallas Cowboys WR is entering his contract year while coming off a first-team All-Pro campaign — which should give him every opportunity to become one of the NFL‘s highest-paid wide receivers.

Will Lamb hold out this offseason as he searches for a long-term extension in Dallas? It depends on who you ask.

Editor’s note (4/15/24): Lamb is not expected to attend the start of the Cowboys’ voluntary offseason program on Monday, according to ESPN.

Will CeeDee Lamb Hold Out in 2024?

On Monday, the Dallas Morning News reported that Lamb is not expected to be on the field for the beginning of the Cowboys’ offseason workout program on April 15 unless the two sides have agreed to a new deal.

Offseason programs are not mandatory for NFL players. Lamb will not be contractually required to participate until Dallas holds a minicamp in June.

Holding out from optional spring workouts is one thing. But it doesn’t sound like Lamb plans to extend his absence into the regular season.

Asked Sunday by TMZ whether he’ll be in Dallas in 2024, Lamb said, “Yeah, I’ll be in Dallas!”

Lamb led the league with 135 receptions last season while setting new career highs in catches, yards, and touchdowns. He went over 100 yards receiving in eight games in 2024, setting a season-high with 13 catches for 227 yards in a critical Week 17 win against the Detroit Lions before managing a 13-98-2 line in the season finale.

“Everybody goes about it a different way,” Cowboys executive Stephen Jones said at the NFL Owners Meetings last month. “We’ve had guys who had been around. [Ezekiel Elliott] was never around when he was wanting a contract. So, we’ve dealt with both.

“We respect Zeke, but you prefer that they’re around when they’re under contract. It’s part of the business. You don’t love it, but it’s part of the business.”

Projecting Lamb’s Contract Extension

There’s not much debate that Lamb should be among the most highly-compensated pass catchers in the NFL. Lamb said as much in February when he appeared on teammate Micah Parson’s “The Edge” podcast.

“I can’t give you … numbers right now,” Lamb said at the Super Bowl. “But I’ll tell you this: (I want to be) one of the top-paid receivers for sure, if not the (highest-paid receiver). …

“That’s always the goal.”

But the top of the NFL wide receiver market is ever-evolving.

Tyreek Hill ($30 million average annual value) and Davante Adams ($28 million) currently pace WR salaries. However, Hill’s and Adams’ total contract values are boosted by massive base salaries in the final years of their contracts.

Meanwhile, Lamb isn’t the only star wideout looking for a new contract.

Justin Jefferson is also entering the final year of his deal and will likely become the NFL’s highest-paid non-quarterback, surpassing San Francisco 49ers pass rusher Nick Bosa ($34 million). Ja’Marr Chase has one more year plus a 2025 fifth-year option remaining on his contract but can be extended this spring.

Jefferson’s next contract may place a lid on the wide receiver market, at least for the time being, similar to how Aaron Donald’s massive extension with the Los Angeles Rams capped DT earnings for a while.

What will Lamb’s next deal look like? He should be able to reach a legitimate $30 million annual salary, one not artificially enhanced by de facto dummy seasons like Hill and Adams’ deals.

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Depending on the structure, a four-year, $120 million extension could entice Lamb to sign on the dotted line. He should look to surpass Hill’s full guarantee ($52.535 million) and Cooper Kupp’s total guarantee ($75 million), each of which leads active WR contracts. Hill’s three-year cash flow ($75.5 million) should also be on Lamb’s radar.

Signing Lamb to an extension would reduce his $17.991 million cap charge for 2024. The Cowboys could desperately use the additional cap space a new Lamb deal would create, especially if they’re unwilling to extend QB Dak Prescott.

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