NFL Contracts are complicated because, unlike other major leagues like the NBA and MLB, contracts aren’t fully guaranteed, meaning the language can be confusing for fans to understand. Another contributing factor is the fact that football is the most violent sport of any major U.S. league, with the lifespan of a player much shorter — leading to players demanding more money earlier.
While The NFL offseason may be all but over, there are still several players who are closing in on landing massive NFL contracts that could become record-breaking deals. Given the year-round nature of today’s NFL, it’s not uncommon for big-name players to land massive amounts of money during training camp and throughout the regular season.
Among others in 2017, we saw Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr sign a $125 million deal; Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford land a $135 million contract extension; and Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins ink an $81 million deal — all between the end of their respective offseason programs and the start of the regular season in early September.
One player whose contract situation will be settled before training camp opens in late July is Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell. After being slapped with the franchise tag by Pittsburgh for a second consecutive season, Bell and the Steelers have until July 16th at 4:00 p.m. EST to agree to a contract extension, or the three-time All-Pro will be forced to play out the 2018 season on a fully guaranteed $14.544 million deal.
Another notable player who has let his frustrations with his current contract be known throughout the offseason is Atlanta Falcons playmaker Julio Jones. With three years still left on the deal he signed in 2015, it is highly unlikely that Atlanta’s front office will be willing to completely re-work his deal in 2018. What could happen, however, is the Falcons may choose to sweeten Jones’ contract with team and performance incentives — similar to what the Denver Broncos did for cornerback Chris Harris Jr.
With the 2018 NFL season right around the corner, here is a look at seven All-Pro caliber players with massive paydays in their sights. Contract data courtesy of Spotrac.
Aaron Donald is widely considered to be the premier defensive player in the NFL. The former first-round draft pick out of Pitt is in the final year of his contract, and there is no way the Rams will let him test free agency. Expect the 2017 NFL Defensive Player of the Year to become the highest-paid defensive player in league history before the 2018 regular season comes to an end.
Like the aforementioned Aaron Donald, Khalil Mack is likely looking for a deal that will make him the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history. Since entering the league in 2014, Mack has developed into one of the most consistently dominant players in the league. It is somewhat surprising that Mack and the Raiders have yet to agree to a new deal, but given his production (he won the 2016 NFL Defensive Player of the Year award), there is virtually no chance Oakland lets the product of the University of Buffalo test the open market.
It’s a widely held belief around the league that the Aaron Rodgers and the Packers were waiting on Matt Ryan and the Falcons to reach an agreement on a contract extension before getting serious about hammering out a new deal for the two-time NFL MVP. Now that Ryan has signed his record-breaking five-year, $150 million (with over $100 million in guarantees) deal, it’s only a matter of time until Rodgers lands a new contract of his own. Expect the Cal product to become the highest-paid player in NFL history.
Taylor Lewan may not be the same type of household name as other players on this list. But make no mistake about it; the former first-round pick out of Michigan is going to become an extremely wealthy man in the very near future.
A good benchmark for assessing Lewan’s value is the four-year, $62 million contract Nate Solder signed with the New York Giants this offseason. Simply put: Lewan is a better player and he is three years younger than Solder. Expect Lewan’s next deal to make him the highest-paid offensive tackle in the league.
It’s no secret that Odell Beckham Jr. desires a hefty contract extension from the Giants, as the three-time Pro Bowler has already threatened to hold out until given a new deal. The former LSU standout may be the most dynamic wide receiver in the NFL when he’s healthy and focused, so his desire for a big payday is justified. That said, he has had bouts with immaturity and he has had issues staying healthy. When it comes down to it, the Giants are going to have to pay Beckham big-time money, or trade him before he hits the open market.
Bottom line: Rob Gronkowski is the best tight end in the National Football League when he is healthy. He has helped revolutionize the tight end position in the NFL, and given his importance to New England’s offense, the five-time All-Pro is fully deserving of a sweetened contract.
At one point in time, it looked like Jadeveon Clowney, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, was going to be remembered as a bust due to an unfortunate rash of injuries. In a fortunate turn of events, Clowney has since developed into one of the best defensive players in the league over the last two seasons.
The 2018 season is the final year of Clowney’s rookie deal, and with another productive season, the South Carolina product stands to land a contract that will pay him north of $16 million per season.
Other notable names to keep an eye on in terms of big NFL Contracts:
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