Kamar Aiken and Steve Smith Sr. are probably one of the most underrated 1-2 wide receiver combos in the NFL today. Of course, you'll hear a lot about Smith because, well, he's Steve Smith, but you never hear about Kamar Aiken. Aiken came from nowhere in 2014 and was able to find a spot in the lineup with his play and recorded 24 catches for 267 yards and 3 touchdowns. Aiken would breakout fully last year under 4 different quarterbacks, hauling in 75 receptions for 944 yards and 5 touchdowns. Of course when it comes to all athletes in sports, you always look at their contracts and see if they are performing up to par with the amount of money they are being paid. Sometimes they are outperforming their current deals, which leads to an eventual bigger payday.
Pro Football Focus' Eric Eager, examined different wide receiver contracts in the NFL and determined the top 5 most underpaid receivers in the game today, and wouldn't you know it, Aiken and Smith Sr. top the list. For Eager's full top 5 click here https://www.profootballfocus.com/pro-5-best-nfl-wide-receiver-contracts/. Smith was #2 on his list. He currently has one year left on his 3-year, $11.5 million deal he signed during the 2014 offseason after The Carolina Panthers, the team he spent his entire career with, released him. He also has a $4.17 million cap hit. Eager says "As he has aged, he has simply become more valuable, maintaining substantial production while commanding marginal salaries relative to his peers." Eager adds, "If Smith can overcome another season-ending injury at the age of 37 and produce similarly to his 2015 grades, his cap hit of just over $4 million next season is an absolute steal." Steve Smith Sr. will most likely be entering his final season in 2016 and knowing Smith, after suffering the torn Achilles tendon last season, he's going to try to go out with a bang.
While Steve Smith Sr. was a 3rd round draft pick, Kamar Aiken wasn't drafted at all as he went from The Buffalo Bills to The Chicago Bears and The New England Patriots from 2011-2013 before finding a home in Baltimore in 2014. Aiken has had to fight for a spot on a team and his hard work has certainly paid off over the last 2 years. Speaking of the word "paid", Eager has Aiken at the top spot on his list as Aiken is currently on a 1-year, $2.55 million deal because of a second round tender. Eager states "With Perriman's health again a question this offseason, the Ravens should be more than happy to have Aiken in the fold at his current rate, which stems from the second round tender placed on him this offseason." Eager has a point, with Perriman and Steve Smith coming back from injuries, add to the fact this is Mike Wallace's first season in Baltimore, Aiken may now have a more vital role on the team this season and he comes very cheap. Amazing to say and think about with Aiken being an undrafted free agent that nobody saw coming.
With Smith's impending retirement and Aiken being an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, this could be the last season for not just one but both players in Ravens uniforms. For Smith at age 37, he will enjoy his last ride and hopefully go out with his first ever Super Bowl ring and put the cherry on top of the hall of fame cake as he will await the call to Canton, Ohio. On the opposite end of the field, if Aiken produces again this year, he might be looking at a nice payday that he has worked extremely hard for since he got to the NFL in 2011. That contract might not come from Ozzie Newsome because of the impending free agency of Brandon Williams and Justin Tucker, if they don't strike a deal with one or both of them in the next few months. Not to mention that right tackle Ricky Wagner and fullback Kyle Juszcyk are also unrestricted free agents at the end of the year. Linebacker CJ Mosley might also be a candidate for a contract extension next offseason.
We'll have to see how Aiken fares in 2016 to see if he deserves a big contract from any of the 32 NFL teams, but for now, at least for one more season, lets hope that Steve Smith Sr. and Kamar Aiken, along with the returning Joe Flacco, can help anchor the offense back to playoff football.