Sports Illustrated predicts how a Justin Jefferson deal could impact CeeDee Lamb, Dallas Cowboys

Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer shed some light on how a Justin Jefferson megadeal could impact Cowboys All-Pro CeeDee Lamb and the rest of the WR market.
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CeeDee Lamb was absent from the start of the Dallas Cowboys OTA offseason workouts, which was expected as he waits for a lucrative contract extension.

Lamb is one of a handful of elite wide receivers who are looking for a new deal ahead of training camp, joining the likes of Minnesota Vikings star Justin Jefferson, 49ers standout Brandon Aiyuk, and Cincinnati Bengals pass-catcher Tee Higgins, who was hit with the franchise tag this offseason.

Like Lamb, Jefferson and Aiyuk were absent from the start of offseason workouts, and Higgins is not expected to sign his franchise tender or show up before the Bengals get things underway next week.

This sets up an arms race in the NFL as teams look to complete their deals early before the receiver market resets and prices soar for t their deals done early before the receiver market resets and prices soar for unsigned players.

RELATED: Cowboys depth chart 2024: Wide receivers heading into OTAs

Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer shed some light on the current receiver market and how Jefferson could blow it all up.

This offseason, Detroit Lions star Amon-Ra St. Brown got his big payday, and A.J. Brown signed another extension with the Philadelphia Eagles. Those deals pay St. Brown $28 million per year and Brown $32 million annually.

St. Brown's deal pays $63.386 million over the first three years of his new deal, which is the structure Jefferson will be paying close attention to. St. Brown was entering the final year of his rookie contract before the extension came to fruition.

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

"Because Jefferson is also going into the final year of a rookie contract, the St. Brown deal is easier to apply to his situation. And since Jefferson is owed $19.743 million on his fifth-year option, the apples-to-apples equivalent of his deal to St. Brown would bring him about $80 million over the next three years. Give him the bump for—all due respect to St. Brown—being a better player, and waiting an extra year … do you go to $90 million over the next three years? Or $100 million?"

Albert Breer, Sports Illustrated

This puts the pressure on the Cowboys once again.

RELATED: Cowboys expect 'big jump' from Jalen Tolbert, Jalen Brooks amid WR3 battle

Dallas took a wait-and-see approach with Dak Prescott, a move that backfired when Detroit signed Jared Goff to a blockbuster extension. Prescott now holds "insane leverage" over the Cowboys and has no incentive to sign the first deal put on the table.

The same could be true for Lamb if he does not get a deal before Jefferson. Like Goff's, a Jefferson deal would cause Lamb's price to skyrocket.

So expect everyone to be paying close attention to the situation in Minnesota.

Last season, Lamb had the best year of his professional career. He led the NFL in receptions with 135 while racking up 1,749 yards and 12 touchdowns. Lamb, who added two rushing touchdowns, earned first-team All-Pro honors and was named to the third Pro Bowl of his career.

The Cowboys wrap up Week 1 of OTAs on Thursday, May 23, before taking a five-day break. They return for the second week of OTAs from Wednesday, May 29, through Friday, May 31.

Dallas' mandatory minicamp then begins on Tuesday, June 4.

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