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Seattle Seahawks star Jamal Adams just became the highest-paid safety in NFL history, inking a four-year, $70 million extension with the team.
For both Adams and the Seahawks, this has been a long time coming. The former New York Jets’ top-six pick has more than earned this payday.
It also got us thinking about other NFL defenders who are in line for huge contracts after Seattle backed up the Brinks truck for Adams. Here’s a look at five such players.
T.J. Watt, edge, Pittsburgh Steelers
Now in the midst of a contract stalemate with Pittsburgh, Watt remains one of the most-dominant defenders in the entire NFL. The three-time Pro Bowler led all players in tackles for loss (23) and sacks (15) a season ago. Back in 2019, the 26-year-old Watt also led the league with a whopping eight forced fumbles.
The onus is clearly on Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert to get something done here as Watt enters the final year of his rookie deal. Based on his recent performances, the Wisconsin product will likely break the bank to the tune of a record-breaking contract worth north of the $27 million Joey Bosa is earning with the Los Angeles Chargers.
Jaire Alexander, cornerback, Green Bay Packers
A lot of the talk in Green Bay this past NFL offseason was about the contract issues surrounding stars Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams. While Alexander’s status has flown a bit under the radar, it’s become clear that he’s the team’s most-important defensive player. Pro Football Focus graded the former first-round pick out as the best corner in the NFL a season ago. It’s a performance that saw Alexander earn his first trip to the Pro Bowl.
With Green Bay having picked up the $13.29 million option on Alexander’s contract for the 2022 season, it needs to think long and hard about extending the still-young 24-year-old defensive back. Look for any new deal to come in at roughly the $20 million Jalen Ramsey is earning annually with the Los Angeles Rams.
Devin White, linebacker, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Right up there with recently-extended studs such as Darius Leonard and Fred Warner as the best linebacker in the NFL, White’s payday will come soon enough. The former top-five pick from LSU was an absolute stud as a sophomore — registering 140 tackles, 16 quarterback hits, 15 tackles for loss and nine sacks.
Eligible for an extension following the 2021 season, this will likely end up being a priority for Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht. If so, the 23-year-old White should reset the inside linebacker market early next year. Said deal should come in at north of $19 million annually.
Minkah Fitzpatrick, safety, Pittsburgh Steelers
Yet another elite-level Steelers defender in line for a huge payday, Fitzpatrick’s brilliance hasn’t flown under the radar since Pittsburgh acquired him in a blockbuster trade during the 2019 NFL season. In 30 games with the Steelers, this former Alabama standout has recorded 20 passes defended and nine interceptions. He continues to prove himself as one of the best single-high safeties in the NFL.
The interesting thing here is that Fitzpatrick started performing at an All-Pro level once he was moved from Miami. He’s now playing a more traditional position and is excelling in nearly every regard. Expect the pending free agent to cash in on a deal that surpasses what we saw Jamal Adams get with the Seattle Seahawks.
Nick Bosa, edge, San Francisco 49ers
In terms of impact NFL defenders, the 23-year-old Bosa is just that. San Francisco’s previously vaunted defense took a step back in 2020 with the former NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year missing all but two games due to a torn ACL. In fact, this unit yielded five more points per game last season than in 2019.
From a pure impact standpoint, Bosa was dominant as a rookie. He tallied 25 quarterback hits, 16 tackles for loss and nine sacks while ranking in the top five in quarterback pressures. Should Bosa prove that the aforementioned ACL injury is a thing of the past, he’ll cash in big time once March of 2022 comes calling. That’s for sure.