Editor's note: This file was originally posted on May 18 but has been updated following new deals for Aaron Donald and Cooper Kupp.
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. On Monday, defensive tackle Aaron Donald agreed to an extension to remain with the Los Angeles Rams and make him the highest-paid non-quarterback in the NFL. The Rams reworked Donald's deal to give him a $40 million raise over the last three years of his existing contract, sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter. On Wednesday, the Rams extended wide receiver Cooper Kupp for three years at $80 million, per Schefter, meaning Kupp will remain in Los Angeles for the next five years at $110 million.
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 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. Who will be the next player to cash in?