10 NFL Players Who Will Make Bank in Their Contract Year

Clay DefayetteCorrespondent IIISeptember 8, 2011

10 NFL Players Who Will Make Bank in Their Contract Year

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    Money is definitely spent by all general managers, but it is those who know where to spend the cash that put their franchises ahead of others.

    Often times keeping players in-house from successful drafts is even more important than stealing players away from division rivals. Free agents may not perform as well under new schemes as in previous ones.

    The market will drive up the price-tag for these players, as will the threat of the players' current teams losing them.

Adrian Peterson

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    Peterson has earned much more than Chris Johnson up to this point because of his draft position, but he'll be looking at a deal identical to Johnson's.

    Personal preference is about the only thing used for deciding which running back is better, but don't expect top teams to drive up the price for Minnesota.

    Elite franchises are against spending top money on guys who's careers are the shortest out of any position.

    The Vikings will be bidding against themselves because Peterson means more to the organization than without him. If the McNabb move doesn't materialize into more wins, Minnesota should just get ready to write the zeros. Peterson has announced that he's not negotiating until the season is over as his contract will be up.

    If he stays healthy, Adrian Peterson will have a contract bigger than Chris Johnson's because he'd actually be a free agent and Peterson could play up his leverage.

Haloti Ngata

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    Ozzie Newsome has placed the franchise tag on Ngata and the defensive lineman will earn just over $12 million in 2011. Newsome may want to just get the extension for the nosetackle finished because big men like this don't come around very often. Ngata is the new, prototipical 3-4 defensive lineman who collapses pockets on quarterbacks and makes tackles on ball carriers that are an arms length away from him.

    While Ngata currently plays in a base 3-4, he can start on any defensive line. What's behind, or technically in front of, many Ray Lewis tackles is Ngata maintaining two or three guys. Ngata deserves top pass rusher money and he'll earn it.

    The highest paid defensive lineman in 2012 not named Julius Peppers will be Haloti Ngata.

Mike Wallace

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    Can Mike Wallace be listed without DeSean Jackson making an appearance?

    Wallace has averaged 19.4 and 21 yards per catch, higher than two out of Jackson's three seasons. Wallace is more durable and will continue to be so. 26 plays over 20 yards and 10 plays over 40 yards beats out Jackson in both categories.

    It doesn't hurt that Wallace hasn't acted idiotically yet in negotiations like Jackson has. Philadelphia's wide receiver will inevitably be paid, but Mike Wallace deserves more. Pittsburgh wants to keep their franchise tag in the back pocket primarily for Mike Wallace.

    The other young speedy receivers on the Steelers are nice, but having Wallace as the centerpiece makes them that much better.

Brian Orakpo

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    Orakpo has been what Washington thought he'd be coming out of Texas.

    Since somewhat sliding to thirteenth in the 2009 draft, the defensive end/outside linebacker has accumulated 19.5 sacks in a league that wants quarterbacks, left tackles and pass rushers above all else.

    There are better and more established threats coming off the edge.

    However, Orakpo has youth on his side as well as big game ability like against Dallas Week 1, preventing his team from losing by forcing a holding call.

    With another double digit sack campaign like he had in his rookie season, Orakpo will be looking at money slightly under LaMarr Woodley's new deal. Ryan Kerrigan, Washington's 2011 first pick, will only help Orakpo.

    With two more seasons, Orakpo will make much more than the $12.1 million guaranteed in his rookie deal.

Brandon Lloyd

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    Lloyd has bounced around three cities before finding a home in Denver last season.

    With his attitude seemingly better, he led the NFL in receiving yards last year while working with Kyle Orton. If Orton remains the team's starting quarterback for the foreseeable future and the two continue to make connections without McDaniel's offense, Lloyd will hit the free agent market.

    He won't make what Mike Wallace is set to because of being 30, but a annual salary of $795,000 will turn into two game checks.

Mario Williams

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    Now considered the rightly selected first player taken off the board in the 2006 NFL Draft, Mario Williams is in the last year of his rookie deal. His combination of size and athleticism makes him more unique than any other defensive end other than Julius Peppers (the name comes up again).

    How he plays in Wade Phillips's newly installed 3-4 will determine the amount of suitors going after Williams's services. He's still a true 4-3 defensive end no matter what happens.

    Mario Williams will have to ball out because his sack totals have been decreasing, going from 14, 12, 9, to 8.5 last season. At least Williams gets to take cracks at often injured Matt Hasselbeck, slow footed Kerry Collins, and 74.7 quarterback rated Luke McCown.

Calvin Johnson

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    Johnson's six year, possibly $64 million dollar deal is almost as beastly as he is. After this season, Megatron will have one year remaining on his deal and he'll want top receiver money. It'll be warranted if he and Matthew Stafford can both stay healthy together for a full season and at least come close to the playoffs.

    Fans are seeing more and more players ask for deals when their contracts aren't up and this could happen with Johnson and his agent Bus Cook. He shouldn't get Larry Fitzgerald money, but Johnson is younger and contracts tend to rise from year to year.

    It may make sense for Detroit to ink Johnson ahead of time anyway.

Drew Brees

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    Brees isn't as old as Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, two peers who also have Super Bowl MVP awards to their credit.

    At 32, Brees is still a top five quarterback and he's done so much for New Orleans not only on the turf, but in the community.

    Sean Payton's offense relies heavily on Brees and the coach just signed an extension until 2015. In a small market like New Orleans that doesn't exactly appeal to the majority of free agents.

    The front office has to ride this train until it runs right off the tracks.

    The great structure surrounding the team currently makes players want to sign with the Saints. Brees will not leave, but the team will get him for a lesser than expected price if he throws 22 interceptions again.

Jay Ratliff

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    When an NFL owner publically says a player needs an increased salary, that player will make this list.

    The owner is not Al Davis but rather Jerry Jones.

    Ratliff will be paid by the Cowboys more than what his age should allow him, but he's been a rock on an inconsistent Dallas defense. No other 3-4 nose tackle has the acceleration and mobility while still being stout at the run.

    Ratliff is one of the very few known hard workers in Dallas and his money is well deserved.

Troy Polamalu

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    Troy Polamalu is the best safety in the NFL right now when he's on the field. He's only played one full season in the last five and he has hampered in the Super Bowl because of his leg. Teams should look at Polamalu as a luxury rather than a necessity, but that won't happen. Pittsburgh's defense isn't the same when number 43 is not on the field and there is no obvious replacement.

    The team has already given extensions to Woodley and Timmons, so it'd be hard to imagine Polamalu not being in the team's plans for 2012.

    Despite contract talks being broken off, expect the safety to retire a Steeler unlike Rod Woodson. The amount of Polamalu jerseys sold won't hurt giving more years either.

    Antrel Rolle's five-year, $37 million deal signed just two off-seasons ago will give Polamalu and his agent a nice measuring stick in negotiations.

Lance Briggs

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    Yeah, right. Get a hold of yourself Mr. Briggs. Players love signing front loaded contracts, but hate when the yearly salary drops by any amount.

    It's hard to make fans turn against players because the league is unfair in favor of organizations for the most part, but Briggs has done exactly that.