Julio Jones WR, Falcons
Last contract: 5 year extension in 2015 for $71.26 million
Julio Jones still has three years left on his contract in which he is scheduled to make $34.4 million. When he first signed the contract in 2015, it made him the highest paid receiver at the time, but now he is only the 8th highest. Jones is seeking long-term security likely because his guaranteed salary has ended. It’s also possible he just wants more cash flow. The Falcons will most likely not extend a major new contract to Jones, considering he still has three years left, but they could add a few additional years with a total added value of approximately $40 million. Given how injury prone Jones has been over the past few years, it makes sense that he is seeking guaranteed money, and it also makes sense that the Falcons would be hesitant to give it to him. The receiver was limited with knee, ankle, and hip injuries last season, and while he usually plays through the pain, it was obvious that the injury was affecting his performance.
Last contract: 4 year rookie contract of $2.9 million in 2015
David Johnson is seeking a re-work of his rookie contract, likely due to the season-ending wrist injury he sustained last season. Johnson is set to receive $1.9 million in the final year of his contract, but he has an extension value at close to $9.2 million a year according to Spotrac’s Market Value. The Cardinals are hesitant to give Johnson a major new contract due to injuries, but it’s important to note that before the wrist fracture, David Johnson was a pretty durable running back. Rumors are Johnson wants an extension that includes 4 years and $37 million, which would make him the second highest paid running back in the NFL. We think that’s a somewhat reasonable ask.
Odell Beckham WR, Giants
Last contract: 4 year $10.4 million rookie contract in 2014
Odell Beckham is now in the 5th year option of his rookie contract and is set to get $8.46 million in 2018. Like receiver Julio Jones, there are major injury concerns here. While he is reportedly almost completely healthy, we are concerned about his left ankle. He suffered numerous left ankle sprains in the preseason and missed the first game of the regular season recovering. He then suffered the left ankle fracture in Week 5, which required season-ending surgery. Needless to say there is definitely reason for the Giants to be concerned about the future of that left ankle. Odell reportedly wants $20 million per year in 5 year contract, which would make him the highest paid WR above Antonio Brown, who currently makes $17 million a year.
Last contract: 6 year $54 million in 2012
Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is set to make $9 million in 2018, and is ironically missing a $250,000 bonus for attending workouts. He will be the fourth highest paid tight end in 2018. Gronk considered retirement after Super Bowl loss to the Eagles, and responded “Who wouldn’t?” when asked by a reporter if he was looking for a new deal. Gronk will likely be looking for more guaranteed money, especially considering his injury history. He’s undergone nine surgeries total since he started in the NFL, including various back and knee surgeries. He also missed time last season with a concussion. The Patriots only have $12 million in cap for 2018, and considering Gronk’s injury concerns, it’s unlikely he sees a massive extension.
Aaron Rodgers QB, Packers
Last contract: 5 year $110 million in 2013
Aaron Rodgers is currently the 10th highest paid quarterback in the NFL. That may come as a surprise considering Aaron Rodgers is considered one of the best quarterbacks in the league right now. Spotrac’s Market Value has Rodger’s value at $116 million in a 4 year extension, which would pump him up to 2nd in annual salary among QBs. Rodgers has kept his lips sealed about how much he’s asking for, but his new contract will certainly be the Packers biggest roster decision of the offseason. He missed a large portion of last season to a fractured collarbone, but was able to come back for the last few games of the season. While some risk remains, Rodgers should be completely healed and ready for action in 2018.
Le’Veon Bell RB, Steelers
Last contract: 1 year $14.54 million for 2018
It’s no secret that running back Le’Veon Bell is seeking a massive, long-term contract with the Steelers. He’s been franchise tagged two years in a row and hopes to end that streak this year. Bell is reportedly looking for around $17 million a year, but it’s unlikely the Steelers agree to more than $14.5 million. Devonta Freeman is the highest paid RB right now at $41.25 million for 5 years, and Bell is asking for much more than that. While this hasn’t always been the case, Bell proved his durability last season as well as his skill. He’s had groin and abdominal issues in the past, but he seems to have put those behind him. Hopefully the two sides can finally work something out.