The Las Vegas Raiders just became the first team to lock up their first-round pick from the 2018 NFL Draft. Reports indicate that Kolton Miller has agreed to an extension worth a whopping $18 million annually.
According to Miller’s reps at Octagon, this makes him the fifth highest-paid offensive tackle in the NFL. It also comes after Trent Williams signed the most-lucrative contract for an offensive lineman in the history of the league earlier in March.
Those selected in the 2018 NFL Draft are eligible for an extension for the first time in their careers this offseason. It is somewhat surprising Kolton Miller was able to be the first player from the class to land an eye-opening contract extension.
A top-15 pick of the Raiders from UCLA, Miller has started all 46 games in which he’s appeared since joining the NFL. He’s only missed two games during that span. According to Pro Football Focus, Miller graded out as the 33rd-best offensive tackle in the league last season.
Even then, he did anchor an offensive line that yielded only 26 sacks of Derek Carr last season. There’s something to be said about metrics. Tape and performance are two other aspects. The Raiders feel they have a franchise left tackle, and they paid Kolton Miller like it.
Below, we look at five other players from the 2018 NFL Draft who could be in line for massive contract extensions ahead of the start of the 2021 NFL season.
Quenton Nelson, guard, Indianapolis Colts
Already the best guard in the NFL and a top-three offensive linemen, Nelson has not missed a beat after dominating at Notre Dame. He’s started all 48 games over the first three seasons of his career, earning All-Pro honors all three seasons. At this trajectory, Nelson will be a first ballot Hall of Famer before any new extension runs its course. That’s not hyperbole.
Here’s a guy who has allowed all of three sacks in 1,822 pass-blocking snaps during his time with the Colts. He doesn’t get injured. He’s absolutely dominating in every aspect of the game. Right now, Brandon Scherff of the Washington Football Team holds the record for the highest annual salary for a guard in NFL history at $18 million. However, that’s due to the fact that he’s been handed the franchise tag for a second consecutive year. Look for Nelson to reach that mark on a multi-year extension before Week 1. Heck, he could get left tackle money.
Baker Mayfield, quarterback, Cleveland Browns
This is where it gets tricky. Three quarterbacks from the 2018 NFL Draft class are going to get paid big time in the near future. All three should be extended before their respective teams have to make a decision on what would be an expensive fifth-year option (roughly $30 million annually).
As for Baker Mayfield, he took his game to a completely new level as a third-year player in 2020. The former Heisman winner threw 26 touchdowns against eight interceptions en route to leading Cleveland to its first NFL Playoff appearance since 2002. While the two sides might want to wait until after the 2021 campaign to get something done, Mayfield will be in line for a huge payday here soon.
Lamar Jackson, quarterback, Baltimore Ravens
The NFL MVP back in 2019, Lamar Jackson saw somewhat of a regression this past season. Battling COVID-19, he threw 10 less touchdown passes than his sophomore campaign. Even then, Jackson was still able to account for 33 total touchdowns against nine interceptions. Through three seasons, the former Louisville standout has tallied 87 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. He’s also the first quarterback with consecutive 1,000-yard seasons on the ground.
As with other quarterbacks from the Class of 2018, Jackson’s situation is complicated by the changing dynamics at this position when it comes to NFL contracts. The three players at this position with the highest average salary, Patrick Mahomes, Dak Prescott and Deshaun Watson, have all signed their new extensions within the past seven months. Jackson is now likely looking at an average salary of $35-plus million on a new deal.
Minkah Fitzpatrick, safety, Pittsburgh Steelers
Acquired by Pittsburgh from the Miami Dolphins early during the 2019 season, the 24-year-old Fitzpatrick has morphed into one of the better all-around defenders in the NFL. Last season alone, he recorded 79 tackles and four interceptions while yielding a sub 65.0 passer rating when targeted.
What makes Fitzpatrick such an elite player is the fact that he can play both safety positions, cornerback and nickel linebacker. He’s similar to (if not better) than what Jamal Adams does for the Seattle Seahawks. It’s in this that we can expect Fitzpatrick to tear the roof off the top of the $15.25 million fellow safety Justin Simmons is earning in his new extension with the Broncos.
Josh Allen, quarterback, Buffalo Bills
Less heralded than Mayfield and Jackson leading up to the 2018 NFL Draft, Josh Allen was seen as somewhat of a project coming out of Wyoming. Boy, has he proven the skeptics wrong. Last season alone, the strong-armed and athletic quarterback put up nearly 5,000 total yards with 45 touchdowns against 10 interceptions en route to leading Buffalo to its best season since the Jim Kelly era.
The crazy thing here is that Allen actually performed better than two former MVP’s in Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes. He’s a dual-threat quarterback. The sky is the absolute limit. Allen is also entering his age-25 season and is leading a Super Bowl contender. It would not be a shock if he got something similar to the 10-year, $450 million deal Mahomes is playing under with the Chiefs.