Chris Jones and Myles Garrett made headlines Tuesday with monster contracts worthy of their spectacular play.
So who’s next in line?
We’re taking a look at five of the NFL’s defensive superstars who are poised to set new markets with huge contracts. Each of these guys can wreck opposing offenses in their own way, and they are set to get paid in a big way sooner, rather than later.
Joey Bosa, defensive end, Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers may have the best pass-rushing duo in the league with Bosa on one side and Melvin Ingram on the other. Since his rookie season, which consisted of just 12 games due to his contract holdout, Bosa has logged double-digit sacks every year except his injury-shortened 2018 campaign.
With 40 career sacks and 82 quarterback hits, Bosa is one of the NFL’s most consistent, devastating edge rushers. He’s also fantastic against the run. He’s set to play out his fifth season and will earn $14.36 million on his fifth-year option in 2020. Without an extension, Bosa would be a free agent next year, or be subject to the franchise tag. The Chargers will almost certainly try to lock him up before that happens.
Kenny Clark, nose tackle, Green Bay Packers
It’s hard to believe Kenny Clark is still just 24 years old. This dude has been dominating the trenches since being selected 27th overall in 2016 out of UCLA and is one of the cornerstone players for the Packers.
An absolute monster against the run, Clark gobbles up tackles like they are the tastiest treats around. He’s also incredibly nimble and quick, which makes him a dynamic pass rusher. The past two seasons he’s really upped his game to an elite level, tallying 117 tackles, 12 sacks and four forced fumbles — outstanding numbers for a nose tackle in this league. Set to make just under $7.7 million playing out his fifth-year option in 2020, he’s due to rake in a huge long-term extension.
Jalen Ramsey, cornerback, Los Angeles Rams
It’s wild to me that Ramsey still hasn’t landed a contract extension and is playing out his rookie contract. Entering his fifth NFL season, he will earn $13.7 million and can become a free agent after this season without one. And when it comes to elite cornerbacks, he’s absolutely in the conversation.
Ramsey has been a baller since his rookie season. He is among the NFL’s most aggressive cover men and typically backs up his big talk with big plays. In four seasons, he’s racked up 10 interceptions, 49 passes defensed, three forced fumbles and a touchdown. The Rams have some serious salary-cap issues to face, but inking Ramsey to a long-term extension has to be one of their highest priorities after giving up so much to land him in a trade with Jacksonville.
Jamal Adams, safety, New York Jets
Whether he stays with the Jets or is traded as he desires, Adams will eventually set a new market when it comes to paying safeties in the NFL. He’s an all-around nightmare for opposing offenses, week in and week out. Whether he’s blitzing the quarterback, stuffing the run or making huge plays deep downfield, Adams literally does it all.
In three NFL seasons, Adams has piled up 273 tackles, 12 sacks, six forced fumbles, two sacks and two touchdowns. Though he still has two years left on his rookie contract, Adams is due for a huge extension soon. When it happens, we should expect him to shatter the current market, which likely means he’ll land somewhere around $16 million-plus per year.
T.J. Watt, outside linebacker, Pittsburgh Steelers
A raw product coming out of Wisconsin in 2017, T.J. Watt has quickly become one of the NFL’s most lethal pass rushers. After a seven-sack rookie campaign, Watt has logged 27.5 sacks and a stunning 14 forced fumbles the past two seasons.
He’s not just a one-trick pony, though. When asked to drop into coverage, his athleticism and instincts take over and his natural playmaking abilities just take over. With three interceptions, 18 passes defensed and four fumble recoveries to his credit, he’s a do-it-all star.