Gentlemen, start your engines.
With clubs able to start entering negotiations with unrestricted free agents starting March 12, there is certain to be a scramble, as some of the NFL's biggest names are due for huge contracts. The players on this list are not here for a lack of talent and have certainly posted gaudy numbers in the past, but after Jimmy Garoppolo's crazy $137.5 million contract (for a guy who only has seven starts under his belt), there's no reason why other free agents who have proven much more in their careers will be asking for the maximum now.
5. Jimmy Graham
Despite the lack of receiving yards this past season, the 31-year-old Jimmy Graham proved to us what we pretty much already knew: he's an absolute red-zone monster, and he's no longer lurking in the background. He led all tight ends with 10 touchdowns this year, which earned him his fifth Pro Bowl nod of his career. Though he has broken the double-digit TD mark plenty of times in his career, we now know he's still got it in him.
Expect any team willing to sign him to pay as if that number will be the norm going forward. Aaron Rodgers, you interested?
4. DeMarcus Lawrence
Following a season where he posted 14.5 sacks and led the league for most of the year in that category, the Cowboys will need to pony up to keep their best defensive weapon in place.
The problem is that GM Jerry Jones is a bit tight under the cap. If Jones chooses to franchise tag Lawrence, it will give the team no flexibility to address other pressing needs, so instead, they may have to ink him to a big old extension with the money spread out. Risky for someone with his injury history for sure.
3. Jarvis Landry
Lead the NFL in receptions with 112 in a contract year and it's game over. He may just get paid within the top five at his position, which is currently occupied by DeAndre Hopkins, Julio Jones, Demaryius Thomas, Dez Bryant and Antonio Brown.
The only question is, is he good enough to fit in with that crew? The obvious consensus is no, but his next contract will likely say otherwise.
2. Kirk Cousins
Once Jimmy G inked his deal, Kirk Cousins probably bought a yacht, spaceship, island, whatever, because he's guaranteed to get paid handsomely.
Who will give the world to him is the only mystery that remains.
Another certainty at this point is that the contract has to be more than Garappolo's $137.5 million total, because that's just the way the world works. My prediction is that it will be way North of that total and well above the $30 million average per year mark. Insane for a guy who has an undoubtedly high ceiling but no playoff wins under his belt.
1. Le'Veon Bell
He already "joked" on Twitter by telling the New York Jets to go and take $100 million out of the bank if they wanted to sign him.
That would be astronomical for a running back even of his caliber, of course. Despite the typically short career span of running backs, Bell is undoubtedly one of the most special players in the NFL, and it is his ability to single-handedly win a game that will make him a super-expensive investment. For a team that already pays heavily for their stud QB and WR, it's going to definitely be a financial strain on Pittsburgh.
We already know he will be a problem if Pittsburgh once again tries to make him play under a franchise tag. So yeah. This deal gets done, at a hefty cost.