Lamar Jackson and 7 Other NFL Players Whose Contracts Need to Be Redone in 2022

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistMay 28, 2022

Lamar Jackson and 7 Other NFL Players Whose Contracts Need to Be Redone in 2022

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    Kyusung Gong/Associated Press

    This offseason, wide receivers have grabbed headlines. A handful of the top wideouts cashed in on extensions with their current teams or signed massive pay raises elsewhere. A few more may follow suit in the coming weeks. 

    Aside from a sudden rise in the wide receiver market, keep eye on a pair of former first-round quarterbacks who can join the $40 million-plus club after Derek Carr, Deshaun Watson and Matthew Stafford signed new deals this offseason.

    At this juncture, many teams open up contract discussions with key players in an attempt to strike deals before the regular season.

    To highlight the urgency of some contract situations, we focused on eight players with one year left on their deals and the most notable playmakers who skipped voluntary organized team activities.

Jessie Bates III, S, Cincinnati Bengals

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    The Cincinnati Bengals franchise-tagged Jessie Bates III, but he has "no intentions" of playing with the $12.9 million tender, which remains unsigned, per USA Today's Tyler Dragon.

    According to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler, this situation could get "interesting" if the Bengals don't come to a long-term agreement with Bates before the July 15 deadline for franchise-tagged players to sign new deals.

    Keep in mind that the Bengals selected Dax Hill with their first-round pick in the 2022 draft. He could become the immediate replacement for Bates if the veteran safety continues to stay away from the team in a lengthy holdout or Cincinnati decides to trade the fifth-year pro. 

    Though Bates played well through the 2021 postseason, logging six pass breakups and two interceptions through four outings, he's coming off a lackluster campaign, recording four pass breakups and an interception while allowing an 80 percent completion rate and a 122 passer rating.

    For now, the Bengals don't seem like they're in a hurry to seal a long-term deal with him.

    Nevertheless, Bates has done enough to earn a new contract, recording 408 tackles (289 solo), 35 pass breakups, 10 interceptions and a pick-six. The Bengals should look to pair him with Hill for the long-term future at safety. Remember, fellow safety Vonn Bell's contract will expire at the end of the 2022 campaign.

Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    The Pittsburgh Steelers hit the jackpot when they acquired Minkah Fitzpatrick from the Miami Dolphins in September 2019. Since the trade, he's recorded 203 tackles (144 solo), 27 pass breakups, 11 interceptions and three touchdowns (two pick-sixes and a fumble recovery for a score).

    As the best defensive back in the Steelers secondary, Fitzpatrick will receive his due financial compensation.

    Typically, safeties don't break the bank, but Fitzpatrick's ball production boosts his overall value. He'll probably surpass Seattle Seahawks safety Jamal Adams on the pay scale, which means the two-time All-Pro will command a salary that averages more than $17.5 million annually. 

    Though Adams has the unique ability to rush the passer at his position, he's not a reliable cover defender farther away from the line of scrimmage. The sixth-year pro has 33 pass breakups and four interceptions for his career. In the modern league, teams need ball-tracking safeties to help cornerbacks against a steady stream of athletic receivers coming into the pros. 

    Though the Steelers don't have a star cornerback, Fitzpatrick will help them defend against top wideouts, including playmakers such as Amari Cooper and Ja'Marr Chase within the AFC North.

    ESPN's Jeremy Fowler expects the Steelers to open negotiations with Fitzpatrick between July and Week 1 of the 2022 campaign, but he doesn't get the sense that the team will be "rushed into a deal."

Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens

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    Apparently, the Baltimore Ravens want to sign Lamar Jackson, but he's not quite ready to dive deep into negotiations.

    In March, team owner Steve Bisciotti told reporters, "We'll pay him when he's ready."

    On The Rich Eisen Show, head coach John Harbaugh made similar comments about Jackson's contract situation (h/t Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio).

    "When he's ready to do it, it's going to become a priority for him. Then we're gonna know it, you know?” Harbaugh said. "It doesn't have to be a priority for us right now. It's got to be a priority for both sides. We can do something, or we can wait."

    With two Pro Bowls, an All-Pro and a league MVP on his resume, Jackson will see a massive salary raise once he signs a new deal; however, he's taking a bit of a gamble with his approach.

    Jackson has recorded 615 rushing attempts for 3,673 yards and 21 touchdowns through four seasons. As a major contributor to a dominant ground attack, he takes more hits than most quarterbacks. The 25-year-old missed five games last season, with four due to an ankle injury. 

    If Jackson misses significant time because of injury in the upcoming campaign, the Ravens may have reservations about his contract demands on a long-term deal.

    On the flip side, if he continues to perform at a high level, he'll command a salary bump that could eclipse Deshaun Watson's five-year, $230 million deal and whatever the Arizona Cardinals pay Kyler Murray in the near future. 

    Though Jackson may not ink a fully guaranteed deal like Watson, he could top Josh Allen's contract, which includes $150 million in guarantees, because of the Baltimore's heavy reliance on his dual-threat skill set, steady production and its win-loss record (37-12) with him under center.

    If Jackson decides to play out the final year of his rookie deal in 2022, he'll make $23 million.

Terry McLaurin, WR, Washington Commanders

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    The Washington Commanders might bend with the wide receiver market and add Terry McLaurin to the $20 million club. In the meantime, he's skipped OTAs.

    Nonetheless, according to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler, the Commanders have earmarked cap space to keep their lead wideout for the long-term future.

    "I'm told Washington spent mildly in free agency in part because it has budgeted for re-signing McLaurin," Fowler wrote. "The Commanders see him as a true cornerstone and team leader."

    Fowler's report comes well after the Commanders acquired Carson Wentz and took on his full $28.3 million cap number for 2022, per ESPN's Adam Schefter. He's on the books for $26.2 million and $27.2 million in 2023 and 2024, respectively. 

    Head coach Ron Rivera shared limited information about contract talks with McLaurin's camp, but he didn't seem concerned about the situation. 

    "Just that we've had communication with him, are working with him," Rivera said this week, per Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post. "Just a matter of time."

    As a 2019 third-round pick out of Ohio State, McLaurin looks like a Day 2 steal in hindsight. He's led Washington in catches and receiving yards for each of the last three seasons, racking up 222 receptions for 3,090 yards and 16 touchdowns. 

    Though McLaurin doesn't have a Pro Bowl campaign on his resume, he's due for massive pay raise from his current $3 million cap number.   

DK Metcalf, WR, Seattle Seahawks

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    After the Seattle Seahawks dealt quarterback Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos, league executives thought the team might consider a full-scale fire sale with speculation around DK Metcalf's future, per ESPN's Jeremy Fowler, but the club seems prepared to extend the Pro Bowl wideout.

    Head coach Pete Carroll spoke to Ian Furness on 950 KJR in Seattle about Metcalf's contract situation.

    "We want him to be here," Carroll said. "He wants to be here. We'll figure it out. It'll just take us some time, but we'll get it done."

    If the Seahawks plan to pay Metcalf what he's worth, they'll likely have to start with an offer that exceeds $20 million per year, which would rank within the top 10 in average annual value among wide receiver contracts. This offseason, wideouts Tyreek Hill, Davante Adams, Stefon Diggs, A.J. Brown and Mike Williams have signed new deals that average at least $20 million annually. 

    On the lower end of that spectrum, Williams signed a three-year, $60 million contract, and he only has one 50-plus-catch season and zero Pro Bowl campaigns over five campaigns. Metcalf has eclipsed 50 receptions in all three of his terms and earned Pro Bowl recognition in 2020.

    If the Seahawks make a legitimate offer, Metcalf, who's their big-play receiver, will become one of the highest-paid players at his position before the start of the 2022 season. He's currently slated to make $4.3 million for the upcoming term.

Kyler Murray, QB, Arizona Cardinals

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    Despite a drop-off in production in the second half of the previous two seasons, partially because of injuries, Kyler Murray has earned Pro Bowl nods for the 2020 and 2021 campaigns. 

    Over the last two years, Arizona's offense has scored 99 touchdowns, and Murray finished 66 of those drives with a throw to a pass-catcher or a run to pay dirt. Clearly, head coach Kliff Kingsbury tailored his offensive system around the dynamic signal-caller. 

    Now the Cardinals may have to pay a hefty price before they see Murray on the field again.

    Murray skipped OTAs while contract talks with the team remain at a standstill, per ESPN's Adam Schefter. Though Kingsbury expects the quarterback to rejoin the team for mandatory minicamp, the front office should jump-start talks with the face of the franchise before training camp.

    In a predraft presser, general manager Steve Keim said there's "zero chance" that the Cardinals will trade Murray, which means they'll probably open negotiations with him in the near future.

    Currently, Murray has an $11.4 million cap number, though Arizona will likely sign him to a contract that averages at least $40 million per year.

Quenton Nelson, G, Indianapolis Colts

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    Already one of the most accomplished guards in the NFL, Quenton Nelson will likely command a salary that makes him the highest-paid player at his position.

    Nelson has made the Pro Bowl in all four of his seasons, and he's also a three-time first-team All-Pro. Per ESPN's Jeremy Fowler, the Indianapolis Colts would like to "prioritize" the left guard's extension, though the team will undoubtedly have to back up the Brink's truck for him.

    Fowler also noted that the Colts understand that it could take time to iron out the parameters of a massive deal. We could see negotiations between the two sides linger into the summer.

    As a 2018 first-round pick, Nelson is on the books with a $13.8 million salary because the Colts exercised the fifth-year option on his rookie deal.

    Unlikely to hit the free-agent market in 2023, he's probably going to top right guard Brandon Scherff, who signed a three-year, $49.5 million deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars in free agency. At a non-premium position, the 26-year-old can command $18-19 million in AAV on an extension.

Deebo Samuel, WR, San Francisco 49ers

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    The San Francisco 49ers may have to open a discussion with Deebo Samuel about his role if they want him back in 2022.

    According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, Samuel doesn't want a sizable role in the rushing attack, which plays a part in his rift with the 49ers. Nonetheless, the NFL insider thinks the two sides will settle on a new deal.

    Samuel earned a first-team All-Pro nod for his breakout 2021 campaign, racking up 1,770 yards (1,405 receiving and 365 rushing) and 14 touchdowns from scrimmage. Though he may want to dial back on his involvement in the ground game, the fourth-year wideout has become the 49ers' top receiving option, which is why he deserves a top-dollar contract at the position. 

    With a $4.9 million cap number, Samuel should expect the 49ers to up the ante for his salary in an exploding receiver market. This offseason, Tyreek Hill ($30 million AAV), Davante Adams ($28 million AAV), A.J. Brown ($25 million AAV) and Stefon Diggs ($24 million AAV) have signed for massive pay raises—the first three with new teams.

    Because Samuel lacks the high-level year-to-year consistency comparable to Hill, Adams and Diggs, he's unlikely to make more than any of them. However, he could top $21 million annually, which would elevate his contract AAV into the top six at his position.


    Player contract details and salary rankings are provided by Over the Cap.

    Maurice Moton covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @MoeMoton.