NFL free agency opens up next week, and of course you want to know who's going to get paid. But don't you also want to know how much they're going to get paid?
If you answered "yes" to that question, this is the column for you. With the help of a handful of agents, personnel execs and salary-cap experts around the league, we put together a list of some of the top 2019 NFL free agents and predicted what their contracts could look like.
I did my best to list the most interesting ones, but if there's someone in whom you're interested and you don't see him on this list, hit me up on Twitter. I'll be around. Enjoy!
Le'Veon Bell, RB
2018 team: Steelers | Age: 27
Projected contract: Five years, $72.5 million with $22 million guaranteed
This averages $14.5 million per year, which would allow Bell to save some face after sitting out a season when the Steelers' franchise tag would have paid him about that much. The guarantee seems low, but what I'm trying to predict is actual guarantee at signing, not injury guarantees, which are tough to count on.
Watch the structure here. Bell has longed for a deal that makes him the highest-paid running back, and an average annual salary above Todd Gurley's $14.375 million would allow him to claim that. But sometimes that number ends up being a bit fluffy. Bell might be wise to do a shorter-term deal for something like two years, $36 million, where the second year is an option and he can be free again after pocketing $16 million in the first. But that doesn't seem to be what he has wanted all along.
Earl Thomas, S
2018 team: Seahawks | Age: 30