5 NFL Players Who Will Sign $100 Million Contracts in the Next 10 Years

DJ Siddiqi@@DJSiddiqiCorrespondent IIIOctober 26, 2011

5 NFL Players Who Will Sign $100 Million Contracts in the Next 10 Years

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    When Brett Favre signed the first $100 million contract in NFL history in 2001, it set off a rare number of football stars who would go on to cash in the $100 million range over the next decade.

    As of the current moment in 2011, there are four players who are officially under a contract that totals at least $100 mil over the life of the deal. Those players would be Larry Fitzgerald, Eli Manning, Michael Vick and Ben Roethlisberger.

    All four are offensive superstars and three of them are quarterbacks.

    Let's just say you won't be seeing any defensive players on this list.

    There are several other players who are close to that figure. Tom Brady and Peyton Manning both have similar deals where they are both making $18 million a year over the course of five years for a total of $90 million.

    Phillip Rivers signed a deal awhile back that pays him $98.25 million over the course of seven years.

    Adrian Peterson also signed a deal, which happened to occur just last month, that will see him make $96 million over the next seven years.

    As far as I know, DE Julius Peppers is currently the highest-paid defensive player in the league when it pertains to his total contract earnings. He's supposed to earn $84 million over the life of his contract.

    When it comes to predicting which players will sign $100 million contracts over the next 10 years, there is no exact science to it. The best you can do is look at a player's value to a team, his age and prior history when it pertains to contracts of this value.

    Prior history shows that players who do get these contracts tend to be quarterbacks. If he's not a quarterback, chances are he's the best wide receiver or running back in the league.

    Here are five players who should sign $100 million contracts in the next 10 years.

QB Aaron Rodgers

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    Aaron Rodgers signed a six-year, $65 million contract in the midst of his breakout 2008 season.

    Rodgers will be 28 years old in 2011, and he is due to be a free agent in 2015, where he will enter the period at 31 years of age.

    Rodgers is in the prime of his career. It is hard to argue that, as of the current moment, any quarterback is playing better than Rodgers is right now.

    Rodgers has an astronomical 125.7 QB rating. The guy right behind him? Tom Brady, with a 104.8 rating. That is 21 points behind Rodgers. That is insane.

    Rodgers is averaging 9.9 yards per pass attempt. That beats runner-up Tom Brady, by nearly a full yard. He's second in passing yards, first in TDs and has led the Packers to the only current undefeated record in the NFL at the moment.

    I wrote awhile back why Rodgers will go down as a top 10 QB all-time. Barring some sort of catastrophic injury, it would be hard to envision Rodgers slowing down any time soon.

    Of all of the players on this list, this would be the safest pick. Green Bay, as they did (or at least attempted) with Brett Favre, will make Rodgers a $100 million man at the age of 31. Probably even before that.

QB Drew Brees

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    Apparently, Drew Brees is a free agent after 2011.

    Let's be honest here. Brees is going nowhere.

    Brees is already a legend in New Orleans. He helped rebuild the city not only through his contributions on the field in delivering a Super Bowl to a once terrible franchise, but also through his off-the-field contributions with the donations of money and manual labor.

    As of the current moment, it would be hard to argue that Brees isn't a top three quarterback. There's really only Rodgers and Brady that are on his level.

    Brees is currently third in the NFL in passer rating and second in passing TDs. He's not slowing down—if anything he's getting better with age. He won his first Super Bowl and set the NFL mark for completion percentage in a single season in 2009 at the age of 30.

    With Brees due to be 33 by the time the free-agency period rolls around in 2012, do not be shocked if Brees signs a $100 million contract. He has so much leverage and value to the Saints, that if he wanted the contract, he would get it.

    The only way he doesn't is if the deal is not long enough in the way that Brady and Manning's aren't, or if he simply takes less money in order for the Saints to continue remaining a premier power in the NFC.

WR Calvin Johnson

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    You guys already know about how great of a receiver Calvin Johnson is.

    We already know that he broke the record for touchdowns through the first five games of a season when he caught nine touchdowns. Hell, he went the first four games catching two TD passes in each one of them.

    It's hard to argue that Calvin Johnson isn't the best wide receiver in the NFL at the current moment.

    When Johnson entered the NFL in 2007 and signed his rookie contract, he signed for six years and $55.5 million.

    His contract will be up after 2012, meaning he will be just 27 years of age by the time he signs his new contract.

    Yes, Calvin is only 26 years of age. That's scary, isn't it? He's not even at the peak of his career yet.

    Through seven games, Johnson leads the NFL in receiving TDs with 10 and currently ranks third in receptions and fourth in receiving yards.

    Johnson is 6'5", 236 pounds and is probably the most athletic receiver in the league. He simply has no weaknesses.

    Don't be shocked with Detroit experiencing a taste of success for the first time in awhile if the Lions hand Johnson a contract similar to the one that fellow receiver Larry Fitzgerald signed with the Cardinals before the 2011 season started.

    Of all of the receivers in the NFL, Calvin has the best chance of signing the next $100 million contract.

QB Matt Ryan

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    When you put things into perspective, is Ryan really anything more than an above average quarterback at the moment? No.

    However, Ryan has an incredible resume through just three years in the NFL.

    After the disastrous end to the Mike Vick era, Ryan led the Falcons to a playoff berth in his rookie season. In 2010, he led the Falcons to the best record in the NFC and a first-round bye before they were defeated by the eventual Super Bowl champion Packers in the divisional round.

    Here's the reason why he should get a large contract after his rookie contract expires after 2013. Although it can be argued that Ryan isn't even a top 10 QB at the moment, he is a franchise quarterback.

    It is not easy to find franchise quarterbacks, and there are only a handful of young quarterbacks in the NFL at the moment who you can truly call "franchise quarterbacks."

    This is the franchise that gave Vick the largest contract in NFL history in 2004, when they gave him $130 million. Vick had never led the Falcons to a Super Bowl, but he did lead them to a period of brief success where they became the first team to ever defeat the Packers at Lambeau Field in the playoffs and also an NFC Championship game appearance where they lost to the Eagles in the 2004 season.

    One thing that Arthur Blank does is reward his players for consistency.

    Should Ryan continue leading the Falcons to the playoffs, even without a Super Bowl or an MVP-like season, he should be able to sign a $100 million contract with Atlanta once his current contract expires.

QB Cam Newton

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    When you look at all of the $100 million contracts signed in NFL history, five of the seven contracts signed have been quarterbacks. The other two were Larry Fitzgerald and Albert Haynesworth.

    Cam Newton has played less than half of a season in the NFL, but if there was any rookie in the NFL who has a chance at signing a contract of this magnitude, it's Newton.

    Newton has made the Panthers competitive in every game and has already led the team to the same amount of victories (two) as they had all of last season.

    He is a safe bet to win Rookie of the Year.

    He currently ranks fourth in the NFL in passing yards and is tied for fifth in yards per attempt.

    Newton can become the face of the Carolina Panthers franchise the way Peyton Manning became the face for the Colts franchise.

    No, I'm not saying Newton will become one of the top five quarterbacks of all time. No, I'm not saying he'll be a four-time MVP.

    However, I am saying that he can turn around a franchise and make them successful, similar to what Manning did for the Colts over the past decade.

    Realizing the marketing appeal of a player such as Newton when it pertains to merchandise and ticket sales, along with the success that he contributes on the field for the Panthers, do not be shocked to see Carolina hand Newton a contract similar to the one Vick received years ago.