NFL teams will haggle, claim they are cash-strapped or swear they won't make another offer -- but, eventually, most of the game's star players get paid.
That's what went down last week with the Seahawks' Jamal Adams, now the highest-paid safety by a sizable margin thanks to a four-year, $70 million offer. Or the week before, when Josh Allen was put on track to become second-richest quarterback in NFL history thanks to the Bills' $258 million extension over six years. Indianapolis' Darius Leonard and San Francisco's Fred Warner just reset the linebacker market by a few million per year on deals worth a combined $196 million. And linemen Jonathan Allen, Braden Smith and Taylor Moton recently put an extra $214 million on the board.
All this took place as teams adjusted to an 8% decrease in the salary cap due to uncertainty from the COVID-19 pandemic. But the money will continue to flow, as the NFL is poised for another billion-plus in spending over August and the first part of September. Week 1 is an artificial deadline for teams to secure long-term deals with their stars, and several could come off the board in the next few weeks.
Let's dive into the mechanics of the 10 most fascinating potential deals, with reporting, insight and musings from around the league. Will a deal get done, what could it look like and what will happen as a result? Plus, Brodie Waters -- who runs IMAC Consulting and ESPN's Roster Management System -- forecast contracts for three of the biggest names still waiting for a new deal: Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson and T.J. Watt. Let's start with Cleveland's major decision looming on its winning quarterback.