It has never been a better time to be a top-tier player in the NFL. The money coming in hot and fast each month is finally starting to resemble the NBA max-contract model.
The past three months have produced two new QB cash kings in Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers ($50 million per year) and Cleveland's Deshaun Watson (a fully guaranteed $230 million deal). Top pass-catchers pushed the receiver market to $25 million-plus. And just this week, Jaire Alexander brought the cornerback market into a new threshold at $84 million over four years with the Packers, less than a month after Denzel Ward hit the $20 million mark with the Browns.
No wonder league owners wanted a separate salary cap for big-money players back in the 2020 collective bargaining agreement negotiations. The players didn't go for it. And now those owners will have star players occupying a bigger percentage of their salary cap each year -- though the projected cap boom coming as soon as 2023 will help soften the blow.
More deals will come over the next three months, from former first-round picks to franchise-tagged players and midrounders emerging as superstars. At least 20 teams have a potential extension or long-term deal to address with a key soon-to-be-free-agent before the 2022 season kicks off. Let's dig into that landscape, with intel on players around the league looking for new contracts.