NFL All-Pro linebacker Fred Warner signed a whopping five-year, $95 million contract extension with the San Francisco 49ers on Wednesday, making him one of the highest-paid defensive players in league history.
To say that the 24-year-old backer has earned his keep would be an understatement. He finished last season as the top-graded linebacker per Pro Football Focus metrics, tallying 125 tackles, six passes defended and two interceptions.
With Warner finally locked up on a long-term deal, the focus now turns to other young players around the NFL who might be in line for huge contract extensions.
T.J. Watt becomes NFL’s highest-paid defender
Set to play under a mere $10.09 million base salary in 2021 before hitting free agency, it stands to reason that the Pittsburgh Steelers will hand Watt a huge extension ahead of Week 1. The 2017 first-round pick was absolutely brilliant a season ago for Pittsburgh, recording a league-high 23 tackles for loss and 15 sacks. In fact, Watt has tallied a whopping 16 forced fumbles over the past three seasons.
Considered by many to be the best edge pass rusher in the NFL, it stands to reason that Watt will become the highest-paid defender in league history. Look for his next contract to surpass the five-year, $135 million extension Joey Bosa agreed to with the Los Angeles Chargers back in 2020.
Davante Adams gets his payday with the Green Bay Packers
Despite the issues we’ve seen with Aaron Rodgers, the Packers have found a way to turn their attention to Davante Adams. The 28-year-old pass-catcher is slated to become a free agent next March and wants a lucrative long-term deal. For good reason. Adams was absolutely dominant last season, registering 115 catches for 1,374 yards and an NFL-high 18 touchdowns. He also caught an absurd 77.2% of the targets thrown in his direction.
With an average annual salary that ranks him 18th among NFL wide receivers, there’s absolutely no reason to believe Adams won’t earn one of the biggest contracts for a player at his position in league history. Something akin to the $20 million Amari Cooper is earning on his deal with the Dallas Cowboys seems to be in the cards here.
Josh Allen becomes the next high-paid NFL quarterback
Josh Allen joined the likes of Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield in becoming eligible for an extension for the first time in his career this offseason. Unlike the two other young signal callers, it appears that Allen’s negotiations with the Buffalo Bills are headed in the right direction.
Buffalo wants to lock up its franchise quarterback as the team embarks on a season in which it has Super Bowl aspirations. It makes perfect sense in that Allen, 25, has already proven himself to be a franchise cornerstone in Western New York. Last season alone, he tallied nearly 5,000 total yards with 45 touchdowns against 10 interceptions. Could Allen become just the third player in NFL history to earn $40 million per season?
Jamal Adams finally cashes in
Back in July of 2020, the Seattle Seahawks acquired Adams from the New York Jets for a package consisting of two future first-round picks. For Seattle, the goal was clear. Give up future draft capital to get one of the most-talented defenders in the NFL.
While the 25-year-old Adams has more than lived up to his end of the bargain, things don’t seem to be going extremely well in extension talks. That’s unfortunate given just how well the former No. 6 pick played last season (14 quarterback hits, 9.5 sacks). Once something does come to fruition regarding the pending free agent, he’ll become the highest-paid safety in the NFL. Take that to the proverbial bank.
Cleveland Browns back up Brinks Truck for Nick Chubb
Teammate and fellow running back Kareem Hunt just recently opened up about how the Browns need to back up the Brinks Truck for Chubb. Right now, there’s absolutely no reason why Cleveland should wait. Over the course of his first three NFL seasons, the Georgia product has tallied 4,134 total yards and 30 touchdowns at a clip of 5.9 yards per touch. He’s been a dominating figure in Ohio.
While there’s no reason to believe Chubb will receive a deal on par with the one Christian McCaffrey signed with the Carolina Panthers last offseason, he’s going to get paid the bucks. Something similar to the five-year, $63 million extension Dalvin Cook signed with the Minnesota Vikings last year should be in the cards here.