Editor's note: This story has been updated since its original posting in March to reflect the signings of Matt Ryan (No. 1), Nick Foles (No. 17), Jarvis Landry (No. 21) and Eric Kendricks (honorable mention).
The initial waves of 2018 NFL free agency are in the rearview. Naturally, then, it's time to turn the page and look ahead to ... the 2019 market.
It's not easy to project the makeup of next year's class knowing that some players will sign early contract extensions and others will receive the franchise tag. But the future market grew in relevance when quarterback Kirk Cousins and cornerback Trumaine Johnson signed massive deals after fending off early extension offers and previous franchise tags.
What follows is a ranking of the top 25 players whose contracts will expire after this season. Will any of them follow the Cousins-Johnson example? Consider this the first installment in a yearlong evolution of the 2019 class.
Note: Ages listed as heading into the 2019 season.
1. Aaron Donald, DT
Team: Los Angeles Rams | 2019 age: 28
The 2017 Defensive Player of the Year held out last summer in hopes of a new deal. He didn't get one and is set to play in 2018 on a fifth-year option worth $6.892 million. Now the Rams will try to get him signed ahead of his contract expiration. Will they face consequences for their too-low offers last year?