NFL: Top Five Candidates for the Next Large Contract

Over the last couple of days, the talk of the NFL landscape has mostly been about Patrick Mahomes’ record-setting extension. The contract is worth $503 million for 10 years, which makes him the highest-paid American sports athlete ever. While this sets the tone for other contracts in the NFL, we have yet to see who is going to get their worth, and who will be even overpaid.  

In this article, I will be going over the five players I think deserve a high paying extension in the near future. This will be based on their performance for the team, potential as a player, and how much depth the team has at that position outside of them.

Deshaun Watson

Photo Credit: The Undefeated

I don’t think anyone currently is more deserving of a large extension than Houston Texans QB Deshaun Watson. Watson has been an absolute monster of a player in his three years being a QB. In the last two years, he has started 31 games, and both seasons has led the Texans to a winning record.

On top of this, he has progressively lost more and more talent alongside him during his tenure. The main points of emphasis being Jadeveon Clowney and DeAndre Hopkins. Losing arguably the best receiver in the game could damper his game, but realistically, it likely won’t.

Last year he had one of his best seasons so far (2018 was better statistically). He completed 333 of his 495 passes (67.3%), for 3,852 yards, 26 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. He also rushed 82 times for 413 yards and 7 touchdowns. If the Texans want to have any chance at the playoffs in the future, bringing back Waston is pretty much their only hope to do so.

Derrick Henry

Photo Credit: DraftKings Nation

Can we all take a moment to appreciate that the Tennessee Titans completely overpaid Ryan Tannehill, who played 10 total games for them and is 31-years-old. They even did this before paying their franchise halfback, who was a large majority of their offensive production for the last four years and even more so in the 2019 playoffs.

Derrick Henry deserves to be paid, if not by the Titans, then by someone else.  He has been the exact definition of a workhorse back, being on the field for 59% of the Titans snaps last year.

In 2019 Henry had by far his best year to date. He rushed 303 times for 1,540 yards and 16 touchdowns. On top of that, he had 18 receptions for 206 yards and two touchdowns as well. Henry in my eyes is the franchise player of the Titans and should be paid as such by the front office.

Shaquil Barrett

Photo Credit: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Shaquil “Shaq” Barrett is easily one of the most productive and high performing defensive players in the league. Last year he led the whole league in sacks which is quite the feat for being on a not so great defensive core. 2019 was his first year as a Buccaneer, he showed the league how much value he is truly worth.  

Overall Barrett started all 16 games last year, racking up a whopping 19.5 sacks, 58 tackles, 37 hits on QBs, and an interception. He was by far my favorite player to watch on defense last year, and truly was one of the more scary players to watch play for that matter. The Bucs really do need a defensive captain of this caliber, and if Barrett keeps up the high production, he should be paid as such no doubt.

Joe Thuney

Photo Credit: NBC Sports

Joe Thuney realistically was the focal point of the Patriots offensive line for the last couple of years. The guard has been an absolute bulldozer and has been fantastic at protecting his man. Now with the addition of Cam Newton, the Patriots will be looking for someone who can move around and block, which Thuney can do exceptionally. 

Last year, Thuney only allowed one sack and had zero penalties all year, while starting every game. In his four-year career, he has had 18 penalties and only allowed seven sacks, four of which coming in his rookie year. He should be one of the highest-paid offensive linemen when he comes to the end of his contract next year.

Von Miller

Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated

Rounding out the top 5, we have Superbowl 50 MVP Von Miller. The Broncos defense was the main reason they won SB 50, and realistically one of the few reasons they were relevant through their rebuild. Now, with a solid offense coming together, having one of the best defensive players in the league is a must.  

In 2019, Miller started 15/16 games, gathering eight sacks, 46 tackles, and had 20 hits on the QB. As a player who only once took less than 75% of snaps (2013, due to injuries) on defense, he should still be the captain for years to come. Granted, he is 31-years old and showed a slight decline last year, but he still has enough in him for at least 3-4 productive years.   

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