It’s never too soon for NFL teams to begin negotiating with their free-agents to be.
Taking care of players before they hit free agency is the only sure-fire way to secure their services long-term. That doesn't eliminate risk from the equation, however.
By re-signing players under contract, teams run the risk that the player could decrease in value over the next season. Such was the case with Chris Johnson in Tennessee, who had his worse season in 2011 after signing a $53 million dollar extension.
However, sometimes the opposite can happen—just ask the Ravens how expensive negotiations can get when a player increases his value during the final year of his contract.
As of now, the 2014 free-agent class is stuffed to the gills with young talent: Matt Ryan, Ryan Clady, Geno Atkins, Anthony Spencer, Jimmy Graham, Brian Orakpo and Victor Cruz to name a few.
It’s unlikely more than two of those players will actually hit the market come next March. In most cases, preliminary negotiations are taking place, as both the players and the team would ideally like to settle on a number sooner rather than later to avoid a strew of inevitable distractions.
Here are the players each team needs to lock up before they hit the free-agent market.