Aaron Rodgers and J.J. Watt stand to earn a combined $23.1 million from their teams in 2016 as two of the NFL's highest-paid stars. But after considering market factors in consultation with agents and salary-cap managers, I placed both on a list in which they might not seem to belong, at least on the surface.
Rodgers and Watt are the biggest names on my list of players working under team-friendly contracts. I chose one player per team, with players' contracts qualifying for inclusion in several ways. Some deals were team-friendly from the beginning, but in the case of players such as Rodgers, other factors had changed. Sometimes it was the market. Sometimes it was the player's role. Sometimes enough time passed for the contract to flip from player-friendly to team-friendly.
Chandler Jones, OLB
Teams seeking young, talented pass-rushers paid a premium this offseason (see Olivier Vernon's five-year, $85 million deal with the Giants). Jones will earn less than $8 million in his first season with the Cardinals. That's a bargain for a 26-year-old player with 36 sacks in four NFL seasons.