Breakdowns

Which NFL Players Will Receive Big Paydays Next?

Which NFL Players Will Receive Big Paydays Next?

Keeping talented players on the roster is imperative for team building, as retaining a consistent core group can lead to more wins. Additionally, rewarding homegrown players will only make a team more attractive for free agents. This offseason, many key contracts were given out, which reset positional markets such as at wide receiver. We may see more of that soon as many talented players may be up for extensions.

Some players have expiring contracts due to playing on the franchise tag, the fifth-year option, or simply being in the last year of their rookie deals. Former first-round picks may be looking for early extensions and players that are being paid well-under market value for their performance may also want a raise. Below, we have highlighted 25 different players in each situation that could be getting contract extensions with their teams sooner than later.

Franchise Tag Players

This list features players that are currently on the franchise tag and will be looking to get new contracts before entering free agency after the season.

Jessie Bates III, S, Cincinnati Bengals

Jessie Bates III is a player playing right up near the top of his position and has been the most consistent player on the Bengals’ defense. With the inability to agree on something prior, the Bengals tagged Bates, so hopes for a new long-term deal are still alive before the season begins. This season, the safety franchise tag is worth $12.911M and the top of the safety market price is $17.645M APY, which belongs to Jamal Adams. Bates, a second-team All-Pro in 2020 will likely get a price close to that, if not more.

Orlando Brown Jr., OL, Kansas City Chiefs

After a few impressive seasons in Baltimore at RT, Brown was traded to the Chiefs, where he had a Pro Bowl season at LT. The Chiefs and the 2018 third-round pick could not agree on a deal, so Brown was placed on the franchise tag, as he is earning $16.662M this year. The top of the tackle market is at $23.010M APY, belonging to Trent Williams, while other tackles in the 2018 draft class, including Braden Smith, Kolton Miller, Taylor Moton, Bryan O’Neil, and Ryan Ramzcyk, are making between $17.5M and $19.2M APY. As a result, a price in the upper tier of that ballpark likely makes the most sense.

2018 First Rounders

While many players from the 2018 draft class have signed contract extensions, there are still many first-round players that have yet to reach one. These players are all under contract this season as a part of their fifth-year options being picked up.

Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens

In the 2018 draft, the Ravens made a move to go back into the first round, wisely selecting QB Lamar Jackson, which gave them an extra year of control. The former MVP has deserved an extension for a while but has not reached one, even when fellow 2018 QB Josh Allen signed an extension worth $43.005M APY. While he is under contract for this year, reaching an extension before the season would be wise, especially for Jackson who is risking another injury before reaching an agreement by being on the field. With Jackson operating as his own agent, negotiations are further complicated.

Quenton Nelson, G, Indianapolis Colts

The former sixth overall pick has been one of the most dominating players, and certainly OL, in the entire league since he first entered. As the key blocker in a very successful run game, Nelson has been a four-time Pro-Bowler and three-time All-Pro. On his fifth-year option worth $13.754M APY, he is already the seventh highest-paid guard in the league. Once the impending extension is reached, Nelson will likely break the market, easily resetting the price of the current top earner, Brandon Scherff, who is making $16.5M APY.

Jaire Alexander, CB, Green Bay Packers

The most recent contract extension to be signed this offseason was by Denzel Ward, who was a fellow CB in the first round of the 2018 draft. He signed an extension worth $20.1M APY, which is at the top of the market. Alexander was hurt last year but the 2020 All-Pro is arguably the better player and should get a contract that demonstrates that.

Roquan Smith, LB, Chicago Bears

Smith has yet to be voted to a Pro-Bowl, but the do-it-all LB has been consistently healthy during his four seasons in the league and was awarded second-team All-Pro in each of the last two years. He is the best player on the Bears’ new-look defense and deserves to be paid as such. Darius Leonard and Fred Warner, both LBs, picked after Smith in 2018 both received extensions last offseason worth $19.7M APY and $19.045M APY, respectively. Smith may not reach that number but will likely be paid right up there with the best players at his position.

Bradley Chubb, EDGE, Denver Broncos

The former fourth overall pick has been very productive when he has been healthy, earning third in the DROY voting and making a Pro Bowl in 2020, but he has not been able to stay healthy in the other two seasons. Chubb’s talent is undeniable but without the ability to stay on the field consistently, his price evaluation is difficult. He will likely be in the range between $17-20M APY putting him in and around the top 10 of EDGE rusher contracts. That said, the Broncos recently signed Randy Gregory this offseason and spent a second-round pick on EDGE Nik Bonitto, so moving on from Chubb would not be too big of a shock either.

Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Pittsburgh Steelers

Fitzpatrick was acquired via trade just before the 2019 season and has been a key contributor to the Steelers’ defense. The two-time All-Pro (2019 and 2020) is likely eager for a new deal and to be paid at the top of the safety market. Like Bates, the current top price is just under $18M APY, so Fitzpatrick surpassing that would not be a surprise.

Derwin James, S, Los Angeles Chargers

Like Chubb, James has been healthy in just two out of his four seasons but has been the best at his position when healthy. James is a two-time Pro-Bowler and was an All-Pro as a rookie in 2018. While the injuries could hurt his negotiation, James will still likely get paid handsomely due to how important he is/will be to their new and improved, talented defense, who are now in a key Super Bowl window. All three of these safeties from the 2018 draft class will have their contract prices heavily based on each other, as all three are among the best in the league.

Non-Day 1 2019 Drafted Players

This next set of players will be ones that were selected outside of the first round in 2019, which means their four-year contract will be up after the end of the season. This group of players saw both Maxx Crosby and AJ Brown sign contract extensions, which will help set a market for many of these players, especially since this group is filled with WRs. AJ Brown recently reached an extension worth $25M APY.

Deebo Samuel, WR, San Francisco 49ers

This offseason has been an eventful one for Samuel, who was at the center of trade rumors, especially around the draft. He still could be dealt but it is looking more unlikely. As of now, it seems that two sides may disagree on a price but more so on Samuel’s usage, as he took many RB snaps this season. The former All-Pro wants to decrease that number, as it increases his risk of injury, further making negotiations trickier. Do-it-all Deebo would be in line for a lot of money, probably more than any other wideout in this class (North of $25M APY) if he continues to contribute as an offensive weapon as he did in 2021.

DK Metcalf, WR, Seattle Seahawks

Like Samuel, Metcalf, the last pick of the second round in 2019, has also had numerous trade rumors surrounding his name this offseason. After dealing Russell Wilson, Seattle seems to be at the beginning of a major rebuild so extending Metcalf as a key piece to build around will be important for their future. Metcalf will likely be seeking something similar to his former Ole Miss teammate in AJ Brown. While he may not reach that number, the 24-year-old former Pro-Bowler will still be paid well.

Terry McLaurin, WR, Washington Commanders

McLaurin has been the best skill position player on Washington and the best wideout in the whole AFC East since he debuted in the NFL during the 2019 season. While he has had a rotating cycle of QBs, there are hopes that the Commanders have found their franchise QB in Carson Wentz. With the addition of Jahan Dotson, McLaurin’s numbers should only increase this season. Similar to the WRs above, McLaurin will easily be in the extension price range of $20M APY and beyond.

Diontae Johnson, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

Another talented WR from day two of the 2019 NFL draft, Johnson has improved greatly each year he has been in the league. What was once a very crowded WR room, Johnson has developed into a real number one in Pittsburgh and will need to be kept around for whoever plays QB this year and for first-round pick Kenny Pickett in the years beyond. The 2021 Pro-Bowler may not be in the same price range as the players above but will still likely receive an extension close to $17-$20M APY.

Hunter Renfrow, WR, Las Vegas Raiders

Yet another 2019 receiver, Renfrow is a former fifth-round pick who has grown into one of the league’s best slot receivers and Derek Carr’s favorite and most reliable target in 2021. The one-time Pro-Bowler is 26 years old and not as dynamic as those above but will still receive a big raise compared to his current fifth-round contract. Judging by other WR contracts, Renfrow will likely be in line for an extension between $11-16M APY.

Elgton Jenkins, OL, Green Bay Packers

Jenkins sustained an injury late in the 2021 season, which was a killer for the Packers’ offense. The former second-round pick is a one-time Pro-Bowler and has been one of the most consistent offensive linemen in the league since he entered it. With some recent big FA contract signings and extensions for guards, the market for guards has increased greatly and will do so again, whenever Quenton Nelson reaches a deal. Jenkins will likely be paid around the top of the position which would put him in a range of receiving $13-16M APY.

2019 First Round Players

Unlike the day two and three players from the 2019 draft class, the first-round pick from 2019, who got their fifth-year options exercised, are still under contract for another two seasons. However, that does not mean that a contract extension is that far-fetched. These players could be fed up with players picked later than them in the same class getting paid and will want to rush for a similar result. Additionally, the team can save money on the cap number during the year of the fifth-year option by agreeing to a longer contract extension.

Kyler Murray, QB, Arizona Cardinals

The former first overall pick was adamant on social media about looking for an early contract extension, as he likely wants to get one done before this season as it could affect his price. Judging by the major drop-off in play by Baker Mayfield and the injuries sustained by Lamar Jackson, who has still not been able to reach an extension, it is best for Murray to sign one as soon as possible. The two-time Pro-Bowler will not reset the market but will still likely receive more than $40M APY, which would put him in the top five highest paid QBs.

Read: The Pros and Cons of Extending Kyler Murray

Nick Bosa, EDGE, San Francisco 49ers

While the 49ers have to work on Samuel’s contract now, getting a deal done with Bosa will be the next biggest assignment. Bosa does have two years left, but after watching Maxx Crosby, fellow 2019 draft class EDGE, be extended for $23.5M APY, the two-time Pro-Bowler and former DROY will want to get paid. With another great season, Bosa has a chance to be a top-three highest-paid player at the position, as his price tag could exceed $25M APY and maybe even reset the market.

Quinnen Williams, DT, New York Jets

Williams has been a good player since joining the league but has yet to live up to the potential of the third overall pick. However, it would not be surprising to see him paid early, as the Jets could score a more team-friendly deal by doing so. New York recently agreed to an extension with John Franklin-Myers in similar fashion at $13.375M APY. Williams is poised for a big season entering his fourth, as the Jets’ defense will finally have some EDGE rushers to take attention off the rushers on the interior. If a deal is done before this season, Williams’ price will likely be around $14.5-17M APY but could increase even more if he plays well.

Jeffery Simmons, DT, Tennessee Titans

Simmons has gotten better each year he has been in the league and has developed into one of the league’s best IDL. After earning a Pro-Bowl in 2021, the dominant Simmons will look to earn around the top of the market money. Either now or with another great season, it would be no surprise if Simmons earned an extension in the ballpark of $17.5-21M APY.

Devin White, LB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

White has been a consistent difference-maker on the defensive side of the ball for the Bucs since he entered the league and will likely continue to get better. The former fifth-overall pick was a key part of the Super Bowl run and should be rewarded for his play. The one-time Pro-Bowler still has another two years under contract but within a Super Bowl window for the Bucs, an extension would not be too much of a surprise. An extension would likely be north of $17.5M APY, as he would easily be a top-five highest-paid off-ball LB.

Brian Burns, EDGE, Carolina Panthers

Burns has continued to remain underrated during his time in Carolina, but his name may start to be heard more often, as the one-time Pro-Bowler is just 23 years old and could be looking for an extension. Similar to Bosa, seeing Crosby get paid, who was picked almost 100 picks after Burns, will likely cause Burns to want to get paid sooner than later. Burns may not receive the same compensation as Bosa or even Crosby but will likely exceed the $20M APY price tag. The Panthers just agreed to an extension with DJ Moore this offseason, so keeping another homegrown star home will be important.

Players Currently Under Contract That Deserve More Than They Are Paid

Like what we saw with Stefon Diggs this offseason, as the markets continue to change at each position, especially WR this year, players who were once paid well have now been passed by newer contracts. As a result, these players that should be paid above market value fall well below, which could lead to the desire for a new deal.

Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams

This is an obvious answer, as Kupp was the best receiver in football last year, putting up video game numbers and leading the Rams to a Super Bowl victory. The former Super Bowl MVP and 2022 OPOY is currently making just $15.75M APY on his contract that expires after the 2023 season with an opt-out after this season. If extended, Kupp will undoubtedly be a candidate to reset the entire receiver market, which is currently held by Tyreek Hill at $30M APY.

Danielle Hunter, EDGE, Minnesota Vikings

Hunter was a common trade candidate this offseason for the Vikings, but they held onto him, likely meaning a new extension may be in the works. While Hunter was not healthy last year, the two-time Pro-Bowler is just 27 years old and makes just $14.4M APY on his contract which is set to expire after 2023. When healthy, Hunter is a player worth well more than that, as an extension near $20M or higher APY seems more appropriate for a player of his caliber.

Darren Waller, TE, Las Vegas Raiders

Waller’s name was circulated around some trade rumors this offseason as well, but it looks as if the 29-year-old TE is going to stay with the new-look Raiders. Waller is a one-time Pro-Bowler and undoubtedly one of the top players at his position in the league when healthy. He is owed just $7.45M this season, well below market value, and has his contract expiring after 2023. Waller deserves to be paid top five at his position and after seeing extensions given to Dallas Goedert and Mark Andrews, Waller will likely want to be paid north of $14M APY.

Zach Martin, OG, Dallas Cowboys

Martin is 31 years old but still remains one of the league’s best players and certainly one of the best IOL. He has been an All-Pro almost every year that he has been in the league, including last year, and is currently paid just $14M APY, which is now outside of the top five highest-paid guards. With his contract set to expire after 2023, a short-term extension, giving him a raise at a top of the market price would make sense.

There are many other players that could be due for extensions in no time as players like Mike Evans, Harold Landry, Erik McCoy, Montez Sweat, Trumaine Edmunds, Mike McGlinchey, Jonah Williams, and many more could all be in consideration, given their different situations.