5 NFL Stars Who Deserve Contract Extensions Before Training Camp

Jeffrey SchmidtCorrespondent IIIApril 5, 2012

5 NFL Stars Who Deserve Contract Extensions Before Training Camp

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    There are a number of stars that are set to become free agents in 2013, but there are five that clearly deserve contract extensions before the start of this year's training camp.  

    The number of player holdouts has increased over the years, and it is a messy situation that teams don't want to deal with. Holdouts should be avoided as much as possible, because they can drastically affect a team's chemistry throughout the start of the season.  

    I expect that there will be a few players who receive deals before the season starts, but here are the five players who should be guaranteed extensions. 

Matt Forte

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    2011 Stats (12 games): 997 rushing yards, 4.9 yards per carry, 490 receiving yards, four total touchdowns. 

    Matt Forte was Mr. Everything for the Bears offense last season. 

    The running back had 24 plays that went for 20-plus yards, and he averaged 124 all-purpose yards per game last season.

    The Bears have dished out money to running backs over the past two seasons, but the team has still failed to lock up its top threat on offense. 

    Forte displayed his anger at the Bears' decision to sign Michael Bush via Twitter a few weeks ago: "There's only so many times a man that has done everything he's been asked to do can be disrespected! Guess the GOOD GUYS do finish last...."

    We saw how a holdout affected Chris Johnson early last season, and it is very possible that it could have a similar effect on Matt Forte. 

    Chicago may have to consider trading the running back if the team fails to get a deal done before camp. 

Ray Rice

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    2011 Stats (16 games): 1,391 rushing yards, 15 total touchdowns, 4.7 yards per carry and 23 plays of 20-plus yards.  

    Rice Rice is also Mr. Everything for his team. 

    The Ravens running back rushed for a career-high 1,364 yards last season, setting a franchise single-season record with 15 total touchdowns.

    Rice also set a career-high 2,068 yards from scrimmage, which also happened to lead the NFL.

    Rice vented out his frustrations to CSNBaltimore.com yesterday, with that interview being displayed in the video above. 

    The Ravens may be in danger of upsetting Rice to the point that contract talks stop so he can just wait it out until next season to join a new team.

    Baltimore needs to act fast.  

Victor Cruz

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    2011 Stats (16 games): 82 receptions, 1,536 receiving yards, nine touchdown receptions, 34 plays of 20-plus yards.

    Victor Cruz has publicly stated that he will not hold out, but he still deserves a new deal nonetheless. 

    The stud wide receiver is set to make just $540,000 in 2012, which is nothing for a guy who averaged 96 yards and five catches per game. 

    Cruz was a difference-maker all season. He recorded 34 plays of 20-plus yards, with one of those plays being a 99-yard touchdown against the rival Jets. 

    This would be the perfect time for the Giants to sign the receiver to an extension because he will ask for a lot more money if he has another great season in 2012. 

LeSean McCoy

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    2011 Stats (15 games): 1,309 rushing yards, 20 total touchdowns, 4.8 yards per carry, 18 plays of 20-plus yards. 

    The Eagles just locked up DeSean Jackson long-term, and it is now time for them to do the same with their elite running back, LeSean McCoy. 

    McCoy, who is only 23, was the Eagles' most consistent player on offense in 2011.

    He was a threat in both the running and passing games by raking in more than 1,600 yards in total offense and scoring 20 total touchdowns.

    Andy Reid told Philly.com that the Eagles have every intent of signing the running back to a long-term contract. "We'll jump in here and start working on that," Reid said at the NFL owners meetings. "He's a guy that we sure appreciate having on the team. These things take a little bit of time. That's how it works, but it'll work out."

Jake Long

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    2011 Stats (14 games)

    Jake Long continued to establish himself as one of the best left tackles in the game last season. 

    He is clearly the foundation of the Dolphins offense, and he is set to become a free agent in 2013. 

    The Dolphins should try to sign Long to an extension before training this season, so the team won't have to suffer through the headache of possibly losing him after the season.