Projecting NFL contract extensions for top players in 2022

NFL contract extensions, Lamar Jackson

A rising 2022 salary cap means a wave of NFL contract extensions is coming this offseason. Top stars like Nick Bosa, A.J. Brown and Lamar Jackson headline some of the NFL’s best talents who will be rewarded for years of hard work and production.

The most common route for receiving NFL contract extensions comes three years after the NFL draft. Once a player demonstrates they can play at a high level and they are eligible for a new deal, teams pay them money they earned. We can also see long-term extensions signed after players are hit with the franchise tag. We’ll see examples of both in the months ahead.

Let’s dive into our predictions for NFL contract extensions this offseason. As top players land long-term deals, more high-profile names will be added.

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Davante Adams, wide receiver, Green Bay Packers

NFL: NFC Divisional Round-San Francisco 49ers at Green Bay Packers
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Davante Adams wants to be the highest-paid receiver in the NFL. In order to cross that milestone, he needs to surpass the DeAndre Hopkins deal ($27.5 million AAV) and the reported $30 million per year asking price would accomplish that. Once the Green Bay Packers place the franchise tag on him, assuming Aaron Rodgers returns, his options are limited. Furthermore, Nuk’s deal is an outlier at the position. He might not get the record-setting AAV, but Adams can get the guaranteed money and total cash.

  • Projected Davante Adams contract: 4 years, $105 million ($70 million guarantted)

Deebo Samuel, offensive weapon, San Francisco 49ers

NFL: NFC Championship-San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Many will notice we didn’t list Deebo Samuel as a wide receiver or running back. The truth is, he is both in the San Francisco 49ers offense. A second-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, Samuel racked up 1,770 scrimmage yards and 14 total touchdowns in 15 starts. He is the most important player in Kyle Shanahan’s scheme and the unique nature of his position means a contract between two positions.

  • Deebo Samuel contract projection: 5 years, $100 million ($60 million guaranteed)

Related: 2022 NFL Power Rankings – Outlook for all 32 teams entering summer

Terron Armstead, offensive tackle, New Orleans Saints

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints
Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Saints can’t lose Terron Armstead, there are already enough issues on offense. It will be difficult to retain him considering the organization is more than $70 million over the cap. However, this front office finds ways to make things work every year. Armstead’s injuries might hurt his value slightly, but he’ll still come away from this with one of the highest-paying contracts at his position.

  • Projected Terron Armstead contract: 3 years, $72 million ($42 million guaranteed)

J.C. Jackson, cornerback, New England Patriots

NFL: Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots know they can’t lose J.C. Jackson. The 27-year-old cornerback is set to hit the open market this offseason and is a strong candidate for the franchise tag. However, that would just be a measure of security to keep him in New England. The priority is a long-term deal and a playmaker with 37 pass deflections and 17 interceptions since 2020, will be one of the most well-compensated players at cornerback.

  • JC Jackson contract projection: 5 years, $98 million ($65 million guaranteed)

Lamar Jackson, quarterback, Baltimore Ravens

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

It came as a bit of a surprise that Lamar Jackson wasn’t among the NFL contract extensions in 2021. While a season-ending ankle injury certainly didn’t erase any concerns about his long-term durability, Baltimore also saw how important he is to the franchise. The Ravens know they need to sign Jackson very soon and making him one of the highest-paid quarterbacks is an easy decision.

  • Projected Lamar Jackson contract: 5 years, $205 million ($130 million guaranteed)

Nick Bosa, edge rusher, San Francisco 49ers

NFL: NFC Wild Card Playoff-San Francisco 49ers at Dallas Cowboys
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

San Francisco placed high expectations on Bick Bosa after selecting him with the No. 2 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Needless to say, he delivered on the hype. In his first season back from a torn ACL, Nosa recorded 32 quarterback hits, 15.5 sacks and led the NFL in tackles for loss (21). He is an elite pass rusher on the brink of stepping into his prime. Considering he plays the second-most important position in the NFL, his contract will reflect that value.

  • Nick Bosa contract projection: 5 years, $142.5 million ($82 million guaranteed)

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Aaron Donald, defensive tackle, Los Angeles Rams

NFL: Super Bowl LVI-Los Angeles Rams at Cincinnati Bengals
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Donald already told the Los Angeles Rams what must happen for him to return. While a contract extension isn’t on the current checklist, it’s probably something Donald would like. In terms of his pure impact, Donald is grossly underpaid. He’s the best defensive tackle in NFL history and arguably the most valuable player in the league. A record-setting contract extension would reflect that and might keep him around the team beyond the 2022 season.

A.J. Brown, wide receiver, Tennessee Titans

NFL: AFC Divisional Round-Cincinnati Bengals at Tennessee Titans
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Tennessee Titans can effectively remove Julio Jones from the books after the 2022 season. Even before that happens, Tennessee is projected to have $60-plus million to spend in 2023. While this might seem a little early for A.J. Brown to join his peers landing NFL contract extensions, it might be a perfect time. If he takes another leap forward next season, his price tag will climb even higher. If Brown is open to getting paid now, the Titans must explore it.

  • AJ Brown contract projection: 5 years, $110 million ($65 million guaranteed)
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