Even heading into an NFL season where the league could lose billions of dollars in revenue, teams have been busy this offseason signing some of the game’s brightest stars to massive contract extensions. This is the time of year when deals get done and we expect that to continue as training camp rolls on.
We’ve seen some of the NFL’s biggest stars cash in recently with record-breaking contracts. The Kansas City Chiefs rewarded Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Chris Jones. Meanwhile, Joey Bosa and Myles Garrett became the highest-paid defensive players in NFL history.
NFL teams aren’t letting their young stars hit free agency and that’s a trend that won’t stop anytime soon. With that, let’s project upcoming contract extensions for more of the league’s biggest stars.
Deshaun Watson, quarterback, Houston Texans
While head coach and general manager Bill O’Brien won’t reveal anything publicly, contract negotiations between Watson and the Texans are ongoing. Similar to Mahomes, Watson is under contract for two more seasons but he will likely sign an extension this offseason.
Don’t expect anything like Mahomes’ historic extension. Instead, Houston’s star quarterbacks want a short-term deal that would allow him to hit free agency before his age-30 season. While the deal might be short, he will still become one of the highest-paid players in NFL history. Given his leverage in negotiations, Watson could land the three-year extension he wants, allowing him to become a free agent in 2025.
Deshaun Watson contract prediction: Three-year extension worth $118 million
Alvin Kamara, running back New Orleans Saints
Kamara isn’t sweating negotiations and won’t be holding out this season, which the fan base loves to hear. While the 25-year-old focuses on bouncing back from a disappointing 2019 season, in which injuries significantly limited him, his agent should be deep in negotiations with the Saints.
We don’t expect him to approach McCaffrey’s $64 million contract, he hasn’t produced to meet that figure. However, Kamara is still one of the NFL’s best all-purpose backs and deserves a huge contract after playing under his rookie contract. Of course, the Saints must factor in the recent history of high-paid running backs not living up to their second contract. There are risks here, but the organization loves Kamara and it is extremely likely a contract extension is reached.
Alvin Kamara contract prediction: Three-year, $44.5 million extension
Ronnie Stanley, left tackle, Baltimore Ravens
Houston Texans offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil held all the leverage in his negotiations this offseason and became the highest-paid tackle in NFL history. While Stanley will be negotiating with a far smarter organization, Baltimore has little choice but to help Stanley surpass Tunsil’s contract.
The 26-year-old was named first-team All-Pro in 2019 and is quickly emerging as the best player at his position. It’s crucial for the Ravens to protect Lamar Jackson and that means making sure Stanley stays with the organization. It will cost a huge chunk of money, but that’s all to help protect the franchise.
Ronnie Stanley contract prediction: Four years, $90 million extension
T.J. Watt, edge rusher, Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh seems to be taking its time with Watt’s extension, which is understandable given he’s under contract for two seasons. However, waiting this long led to Garrett and Bosa driving the price up even further.
There’s no denying Watt’s talent and it’s the reason the Steelers can’t let him go. Edge rusher is the second-most important position in the NFL and a player with 57 quarterback hits, 38 tackles for loss, 27.5 sacks and 14 forced fumbles in the past two years deserves a record-setting contract.
T.J. Watt contract prediction: Five-year extension worth $138 million
Jalen Ramsey, cornerback, Los Angeles Rams
If we learned one thing from the season premiere of “Hard Knocks”, which drew awful ratings, it’s that Ramsey doesn’t want to talk about his contract. He is focused on playing football and for once is going to let his play on the field do the talking.
The approach could easily pay off, especially given Ramsey’s leverage. Los Angeles gave up two first-round picks to acquire him, so an extension is almost mandatory to justify the trade. We’ve seen a few cornerbacks get paid this offseason, but Ramsey could blow those numbers out of the water.
Jalen Ramsey contract prediction: Four years, $80 million