Joel Dreessen: Low pay for tight ends is frustrating


Add Denver’s Joel Dreessen to the list of NFL tight ends who aren’t thrilled with the way they get paid.

Dreessen said on SiriusXM NFL Radio that in the wake of Saints tight end Jimmy Graham losing his arbitration ruling, tight ends are feeling underpaid. Dreessen agreed with Tony Gonzalez, who said players should be paid based on production, not their position.

“It actually kind of strikes a nerve,” Dreessen said. “Tight end was historically one of the lowest-paid positions in the league. We don’t get paid as much as offensive linemen, we certainly don’t get paid as much as wide receivers for those top-tier contracts. But we’re asked to do so much. We’re asked to play special teams, we’ve got to know every single pass pattern, protection and run game. So it’s kind of frustrating that the guys who get asked to do probably the second most behind the quarterback are kind of down there on the pay scale.”

Dreessen is a backup who caught only seven passes last season, so it’s not like he would be making top-shelf money even if elite tight ends were paid as much as elite wide receivers. But on principle, he believes the best tight ends’ contracts should be on par with the contracts of the best wide receivers in the NFL. In reality, the tight end pay scale is well behind the scale for wide receivers.

67 responses to “Joel Dreessen: Low pay for tight ends is frustrating

  1. I think it would be hard to argue against the fact* that TE’s should get tagged and see money similar to that of a WR. having it be almost half is just ridiculous

  2. You could’ve tried to play QB Joel. Just as I’m not good enough to play NFL TE for millions you’re not good enough to play QB for lots of millions. Hard to feel bad for the poorer millionaires.

  3. Good call, Joel. I’ll see you and raise you one: the highest paid players should be placekickers. After all, they generally score the most points of anyone on the team, and last time I checked, the team with the most points wins.

    Tight end and kicker, the most valuable positions right behind quarterback.

  4. If I was a team, I would low-ball Dreesen for crying about it out of spite. Cry me a freakin’ river!!

  5. Your right Joel…. For a guy that has caught maybe 150 passes for 1500 yards over a career and to get 3.1M is a joke… You are over paid my friend

  6. Dreessen makes a very good point about how both offensive linemen and wide receivers get paid way more than tight ends, when the TE position inherently takes on the tasks of both both OL and WR. Historically the TE position was utilized mostly as a blocker and occasional pass-catcher, but over the years TEs have become more of a focal point of offenses. Today, we have TEs that are as valuable as any receiver of any kind, and the athleticism of the position has increased as well. The NFL is an ever-evolving league, and while I’m not ready to start considering certain TEs as WRs through technicalities, I do fully believe that the pay scale for TEs should rightfully evolve as well.

  7. You don’t need to be Graham/Gronk to realize these guys should be paid based on production. Dreessen may not be elite, but he knows first hand what it takes to learn the TE position (which is hard enough compared to other positions) and then go out and perform.

  8. Na, Position pay is allotted according to the importance of your position. TEs are easier to find. Only one drafted in Rd 1 this year.

    Elite left tackles are much more difficult to find and way more important to the offense. Elite pass rushers are harder to find. Elite corners are impossible to find.

    Fungible positions are paid less, sorry.

  9. Centers are generally the lowest paid lineman and they touch the ball every play, they should be paid the most. If they don’t snap the ball you can’t score

  10. kinda hard to feel sorry for guys who make millions of dollars cry that their under paid for playing a game..seriously try getting a job like the rest of us and see how you like it!

  11. What about tight ends who are primarily blockers and are good at their jobs, opening up plays to increase yardage gained? How would they be paid on “production”? Are they going to have a stat for that or is it just going to be like “hey this guy doesnt block but he catches 50 balls, so he’s worth a lot more”? Really the whole franchise tag business is probably wrong and it’s hard to really improve it based on evolving positional roles. Really, they should get paid based on A market. If one team values pass catching over blocking more than another, they should be able to make a bid.

  12. If they are as valuable as he says they are, the money will start to follow appropriately.

    The RB’s used to be the most important position that paid really well. Now many teams are finding cheap free agents or young players on their first contracts to play the position for less than $2 mil/ year.

    If there is an inbalance, the market will correct itself.

  13. Hey kid, wait til you’re out of the league trying to get a JOB!…. Not to mention every RB in the NFL takes exception to what you said….

  14. Then dont accept the contract if you dont think its enough. Someone else would be happy to play for that money. Its a free market baby!!

  15. dirtmcgirt24 says:

    Good call, Joel. I’ll see you and raise you one: the highest paid players should be placekickers. After all, they generally score the most points of anyone on the team, and last time I checked, the team with the most points wins.

    Tight end and kicker, the most valuable positions right behind quarterback.

    First I’d like to just say…wwwwwhat!? Nobody can argue with the fact that kickers score the most points, but they are also on the field of play about 3% of the game. You absolutely CANNOT make someone who sees the field maybe 2 minutes per game your highest paid player. The overwhelming idiocy of this notion makes me regret having read it at all.

  16. Every position is important. If “blockers don’t block”, “defenders don’t tackle”, etc… . And, football is the “ultimate team game” (at least that’s what Gruden tells us). So, a 135 million salary cap divided by 53 means you each get about 2.5 million a year. Don’t like it, go flip burgers or stock shelves at minimum wage.

  17. It’s impossible to talk about how you’re not making enough when your salary is in the millions and not sound like the backside of a donkey. He should be having these conversations with his union and fellow players, not out in the open.

  18. Poor little TE’s… Not every player on the team can get paid top dollar and still field a team. If he was bigger and stronger, he could play OL and get paid more. If he was smaller and faster he could be a WR and get paid more. He is neither and not exactly a top TE either, even on his own team. Maybe complaining publicly that you are not getting paid enough millions when the economy still sucks, is not the brightest thing to do.

  19. It’s not an accident. Teams know which positions help them win the most games and they make financial decisions accordingly. There’s a reason Tony Gonzalez didn’t win a playoff game until he had been in the league a million years and when he retired he had only won one. Tight ends just don’t matter that much.

  20. this isn’t about how much money is paid to pro athletes.

    WR’s get 12 mil a tag, TE’s get 7. they need to close the gap. based on more and more gates/gonzalez type te’s they need to raise the tag number. more teams are using their TE’s as key pass catching targets.

  21. Serious question, what positions outside of kicker, punter, and long snapper should be the lowest paid?

    I agree tight ends probably should get more but with QBs getting overpaid and teams spending 15-20M or more on one starter it’s hard to to divide up the cash like it should be.

    I personally don’t think any player should get more than 3-4M per year and then pay the franchise QB about 7-9M a year. This would certainly allow teams to have more talent on the roster rather than have several positions that are not nearly as talented as others.

    It’s also hard to hear someone making 500k or more a year complaining about their pay when many of us work our tails off and buy the tickets but are expected to get by with more than 40 or 50k a year. Excuse me if I don’t feel so sorry for someone who makes what he does already. When he makes more then tell me who on his team is overpaid because when more money goes to tight end then less is going to another position.

  22. Supply and demand dictates the pay scale. TE’s like Jimmy Graham are the exception and not the norm, and free agency will eventually correct the average pay of the top 5 TE’s if they are indeed undervalued. In the case of a player like Jimmy Graham, he is kind of screwed over by the franchise tag because in terms of production, he is far and away the best TE in the league. Getting an “average of the top 5” pay is underpaying him when he is the clear #1. However, once he hits free agency (if New Orleans lets him get away), he will make what the market dictates he is worth and I do expect to see elite TE’s breaking the $10 million barrier on a regular basis very soon as the game continues to migrate to the “ex-basketball player” type of athlete at the position. RB’s used to be paid as elite players, but with the shift of the game to a passing focus, supply and demand has dropped their pay dramatically. The same will happen in reverse with TE’s, just give the market time to correct.

  23. What Joel is doing is comparing the salaries of NFL tight-ends to the salaries of other positions in the game. There’s nothing wrong with that whatsoever. The rest of you are comparing Dreessen’s salary with those of working class America…which isn’t useful in any way. Of course he should be grateful for what he has compared to the average Joe, but Dreessen is speaking about his salary in regards to how it compares to other positional salaries within his own occupation.

    Those of you who claim he is “whining” about how much money he makes…are essentially whining yourselves.

  24. if you are part of the NFLPA, you agreed to the current structure of the CBA – thus, shut the F’ up. then work to change it under the next CBA, otherwise you just sound like a whiner…

  25. captainwisdom8888 says:
    Jul 12, 2014 3:09 PM

    “Those of you who claim he is “whining” about how much money he makes…are essentially whining yourselves.”

    pointing out someone is whining is not whining. how did you come to this conclusion? is pointing out someone is a DB being a DB? mirror…

  26. Okay Joel, I agree that TE should be paid based on production. Lets take at you at your production: 7 catches, 47 yards, and 1 TD last year. You’re making a little over 3 mill. You’re making a lot more already for the little production you’re giving Denver.

  27. All positions should be paid purely on performance and not because of position.

    If you are the best TE in football you should earn more than the 20th best QB or 30th best WR.

  28. As most of us know, low pay is measured in dollars per hour, not millions per year.

  29. Their qb receives 20million per year plus, is hamstringing the team so that other players have to take less, then chokes away the big game. Dreessen is mad at the wrong person. Put the blame where it squarely belongs.

  30. I swear… half the time I read the comments section I lose brain cells. What do you idiots not understand about economics…

    The NFL made billions last season and will do so again this year and next and so on… Players are looking out for their percentage. That isn’t complaining or whining. It’s doing what every one of us does…. look for our best financial option.

    Just because his industry supports salaries of a larger scale doesn’t mean that people should lose the drive to attain their maximum compensation and for anyone on here to think it should is asinine.

  31. And what stat would you use to gauge the production of O and D linemen? And how would you compare those stats to other positions to rank them?
    Lot’s of posters have got it right already. Elite TE’s will make their money in free agency. Other tight ends are so easily replaced that they will stay relatively low paid.
    As for the franchise tag, there should be a combo position for slot receivers and slot tight ends (slot-ends?). They are not as valuable as top flight WR’s but more valuable than basic TE’s in terms of franchise tag numbers.

  32. It’s a free market, right? If you don’t like the tight end pay scale, then go ahead and try out for wide receiver.

    One could argue that policemen and firemen are well underpaid, in comparison to other careers, because THEY do so much and put themselves at way more risk than your average cubicle resident.
    But you CHOOSE your profession, and your position, knowing what the program is, going in.

    This is like the guy who bought a house next to an airport, complaining about noise.

    Take some personal responsibility and stop whining.

  33. I have to know a lot more than this clown to do my job, and I’m not whining about be paid millions less than him.

    Shut up and get ready for camp, dude.

  34. You can’t compare what others make to what he makes and start trying to say what is fair or not. Everything is supply and demand. It is easier to find capable willing people to be firefighters, police, teachers, etc.

    But for the same reason it is ridiculous for him to compare himself to other players doing a different job. Apparently it is a lot easier to find quality guys who can play tightend than WR or OL. If it weren’t, then teams would have to pay big bucks to get a good TE.

    So if you believe that guys who play sports deserve the money they are making because they are rare athletes and there is a demand for their skills, then you can’t also complain that another athlete with even rarer skills makes more than you do.

  35. LOL, Firsttime I’ve ever heard $7 million/year described as ‘low’ pay. I’d certainly like to be paid that ‘low’.

  36. Considering you have receivers at the top of the pay grade like Fitz, Calvin Johnson, heck even Mike Wallace making 12+ a year. I think it is fair for the top TE to get a contract on par to what Fitzgerald signed a couple years ago. Just because they play a sport and have an awesome career why are we knocking them for trying to make the most they can? In your workplace you would not stand for someone producing less than you but still making moreannually. It is such a joke to knock Millionaires for asking for more millions, if you deserve it who cares how much you have already made or been offered.

  37. What the NFL needs to do is discard the whole franchise tag. Make the market truly free for free agents. Let each team decide which positions are worth how much of their money. If not for the franchise tag, jimmy Graham would have already signed a lucrative contract with a team who valued him more than the other teams. He won’t get a contract offer now because somebody has to give up draft picks and the money it would cost to sign him. Now the saints get to keep him one more year on an undervalued contract. What if he breaks his neck this year? He lost out on A huge signing bonus thanks to the franchise tag.

  38. Sorry but tight end production is based off of mismatch on coverage.

    We’ve all seen how Graham performs when he has a coverage specialist assigned to him.

    Every one of these tight ends keeps trying to make a case for more money based on about 2/3 the story. When everything is taken into consideration the compensation falls pretty much where it should.

  39. Meanwhile there are millions of Americans working 2 or 3 jobs to barely make ends meet. Stay classy my friend.

  40. If you want the salary of a WR, then switch positions and play WR! Not rocket science. Oh. What’s that you say? You can’t really play the WR position at the same high level as you play tight end? Exactly.

  41. Joel..You got 1million in base salary last season …you had seven catches …s.e.v.e.n….in 13 games…that comes to $142,857 a catch…I wish I was that underpaid..

  42. He’s absolutely right that Denver TE pay schedules need overhaul. Why should Julius Thomas only make half as much as Joel Dreesen?

  43. You get paid what you’re worth. The more valuable you are to the team, the more you’ll get paid regardless of position. If you’re easy to replace, you don’t get paid as much. Them’s the breaks.

  44. Pay for production, period.

    Since Tony Gonzalez arrived in the NFL and with pass-friendly rules, TEs have become more than blockers and end zone/short yardage receivers.

    Gonzo was the first, then followed by Gates, Witten and now Gronk and Graham, players that are as dangerous as the elite WRs.

    Joel being overpaid is not the real discussion here.

  45. Dressen won’t be playing for the Broncos this year. His 7 catches for 47yds last year and $3M/yr salary worked out to $428,571.43 per catch and $63,829.79 per yard. Peyton Manning’s salary based on the same price per yard (5,477) would have been $3,495,955,744.68 (yes, that’s billion) and if you replace Dressen’s catches with Mannings TDs at the same rate ($428,571.43 per), it comes to $23,571,428.65. Dressen will change his opinion about the pay when he is unemployed this year.

  46. Tight ends aren’t needed as much as WRs and OLinemen are though. You can get by without a tight end, but try getting by without a WR or an offensive lineman.

    More demand = more money

    That being said, if a TE puts up WR type numbers he should be getting WR type pay.

  47. I dont know how he does it! with having to block and play special teams and even asked to catch a ball or two for only a few million dollars.
    It brings a tear to my eyes for the suffering he goes thru to put food on the table for his family!

  48. Let these guys get a job in the real world and see how they feel about being “underpaid” in the NFL.

    And I don’t want to hear about how tough their job is, either. Locally, we just had another fire fighter give his life to save someone elses’. And he was a volunteer!

    So TE’s should play and shut up, or quit.

  49. Joel Dreesen is the very definition of salvageable. You can be replaced in a heart beat. Just like the vast majority if NFL tight ends. There are only a select few elite tight ends. The rest of you shut up and be happy your not selling insurance like me.

  50. NFL pay is supply and demand; dominant TE’s like Graham are probably worth 10 million per while guys like Dreesen are a dime a dozen, pun intended

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