4 years, $30,994,090 ($14.3M guaranteed)
Average Salary: $7,748,522
Murray picked a great year to catapult himself to the best all-around running back in the NFL. He led the league in attempts, rush yards, rush touchdowns and yards from scrimmage. He also caught more balls for more yards than he has in his 4 year career to date. A concerning amount of fumbles (13) and a heavy workload combined with the overall de-valuation of the running back contract could drop the overall figure at the end of the day, but he’s set to be a Top 5 average paid rusher in football.
5 years, $76,410,561 ($33.5M guaranteed)
Average Salary: $15,282,112
The off/on-the-field distractions many have been concerned with surrounding Dez Bryant have all but been muted with his outstanding production over the past two seasons in Dallas. Unforunately, the Cowboys may need to get creative to keep both he and Murray in the fold for the next few seasons. It’s widely expected that Dallas slaps the franchise tag on Bryant this offseason, which is currently projected at around $12.5M. Taking into account 120% of that figure, another franchise tag in 2016 would pay him $15M, still below our valued annual average. It might be a bumpy road between these two sides over the next few months.
6 years,$134,000,000 ($60M guaranteed)
Average Salary: $22,333,333
Noone in the NFL deserves a pay-raise more than Wilson, who has done nothing but win since the Seahawks selected him in the 3rd round 4 years ago. The $134M contract, $60 million guaranteed, and $22.3M annual average would make him tops across the league in all regards, fitting for a player who’s consistently completing 64% of his passes, and improving in all major statistical categories, while decreasing mistakes and interceptions annually. His annual salary could push toward the $25 million mark should the Seahawks win the final game of the 2014 season.
6 years, $100,224,068 ($48M guaranteed)
Average Salary: $16,704,011
Yes he’s had the benefit of Peyton Manning targeting him for the past three seasons, but there’s no denying that Demaryius Thomas is one of the elite, if not the best, young receivers currently in the game. The recent shakeup in Denver is cause for concern with an enormous list of unrestricted free agents currently, but it’s hard to imagine the Broncos letting this one get away. A $16.7 million annual salary would make him the highest average paid WR in the game, and the $48 million guaranteed would match Calvin Johnson’s current contract.
6 years, $103,672,800 ($56M guaranteed)
Average Salary: $17,278,800
The press conference following the Lions loss to the Cowboys certainly gave us all the feeling that Suh was saying goodbye to the franchise, we’re not convinced. While rumors swirl of a franchise tag being used, it seems nearly impossible to imagine the Lions allowing a $26.6M salary on their payroll (especially when factoring in an additional $9.7M in dead cap that must go with it). Yes, it would be dangerous for the Lions to carry three players who average a salary more than $16M per year (Stafford, Calvin Johnson), but at least the $ would be allocated to positions of prime importance. The $103M contract would exceed Gerald McCoy’s recent extension in Tampa Bay, and the $17.2M annual average would make him the highest average paid defensive player in the game.
5 years, $48,322,979 ($15M guaranteed)
Average Salary: $9,664,596
Hilton has quickly becoming Andrew Luck’s "goto" target in Indianapolis. and when he’s healthy, has proven he can find space anywhere on the field. He’s a sure bet to be locked up long-term along with Luck over the next few seasons, as the Colts look to build yet another dynasty around a brilliant and skilled QB. Production-wise, Hilton falls somewhere in between Percy Harvin and Jordy Nelson prior to the signing of their contracts, and could push past $50 million if asked to play out the final year of his rookie contract.
5 years, $49,440,222 ($15M guaranteed)
Average Salary: $9,888,044
The other great wide receiver in Green Bay has a contract set to expire after the 2014 season comes to a close. Cobb’s current value falls inline with Jeremy Maclin (PHI), who also suffered a major injury last season, but came back to produce this year. It’s likely the two will "wait each other out" in terms of negotiating.
5 years, $49,364,249 ($15.8M guaranteed)
Average Salary: $9,872,850
Maclin has been under the radar for many years in Philadelphia, in part because of DeSean Jackson’s presence, and also because of a season-ending injury in the 2013 season. He showed in 2014 that he can be a true WR1 in the league, and hits the open market looking to be paid like one. The $9.8M annual valuation makes him a Top 10 average paid WR in the league, and might be too rich for the Eagles this offseason.
6 years, $92,670,276 ($49M guaranteed)
Average Salary: $15,445,046
Justin Houston just finished 2014 with the kind of season that ranks him among the elite pass rushers of all-time. It just so happens that the 2014 season was also his contract year. His under the radar dominance will now come into full focus, as the Chiefs will most certainly look to get Houston under contract in the next few months – by way of a long-term extension, or the franchise tag. The $15.4 million annual salary would rank 4th among all active defensive players, just behind Watt and Mario Williams in terms of pass rushers. It’s likely the Chiefs will slap the franchise tag on Houston in the coming weeks, but likely only to bide time for the two sides to work out a big deal.
6 years, $131,280,038 ($57M guaranteed)
Average Salary: $21,880,006
Luck is living up to the hype of not only his 1st overall pick status, but in following the footsteps of Peyton Manning in Indianapolis. The numbers have gotten better in each of his 3 NFL seasons, culminating to a 2014 campaign where he completed 62% of his passes for 4,700 yards, and a league-leading 40 TDs. It’s widely expected that the Colts will let Luck play out his rookie contract, including the 5th year option in 2016, so our snapshot valuation here might be moot, but he currently values right behind the annual average of Aaron Rodgers, who currently leads all NFL players at $22M.
5 years, $73,873,738 ($31M guaranteed)
Average Salary: $14,774,748
After missing multiple games in 2013, Pierre-Paul regained his dominant form in 2014, posting 12.5 sacks and 53 tackles for a less-than-impressive Giants defense. While the math worked in his favor for our valuation, neither a 5 year deal nor the 3rd highest average paid DE ranking are likely for JPP, based on his age and injury past.
5 years, $60,944,939 ($20.7M guaranteed)
Average Salary: $12,188,988
Hughes has thrived among a great Bills defense since being traded there from the Colts in 2013. The former 1st round pick could make a splash on the open market should he be allowed to do so, though it seems likely that Rex Ryan and the Bills will make a strong push to keep him in house. Hughes rated out as the 14th best 4-3 defensive end in 2014 according to Pro Football Focus, and our $12.2M valuation for him would rank 5th among active DEs heading into 2015.
4 years, $28,500,000 ($13M guaranteed)
Average Salary: $7,125,000
He’s played largely under the radar on a somewhat boring Ravens offense, but his production has improved consistently over 4 NFL seasons. He posted nearly 1,200 yards receiving in 2013, and caught 11 TD passes in 2014, making him an intriguing option should he be allowed to test the open market. A $7.125 million annual salary would rank 16th among active WRs, and right inline with similar wideouts in Decker, Stevie Johnson, and Golden Tate (to some degree).
We’ll continue to update this article as we analyze free agents/extension candidates this offseason.
5 years, $31,000,000 ($13.5M guaranteed)
Average Salary: $6,200,000
Though he’s well-rated across a number of platforms, he gave up 7 sacks in 2014 (with a mobile quarterback behind him). Combine this with games missed in each of the past two seasons, and there may be a few red flags in overpaying for Iupati. The bottom line though is that every team could use an upgrade on their offensive line, and at 27 years of age, Iupati is a tempting sign should he be allowed to test the market. The $6.2 million annual average ranks 9th among NFL guards.
5 years, $39,343,686 ($16.5M guaranteed)
Average Salary: $7,868,737
Knighton took a bit of a step back in 2014 after making a (nick)name for himself in the prior year. Still, Pro Football Focus rated him the 12 best defensive tackle this year, factoring especially well against the run. He’ll be highly sought after for this regard should he hit the market. Our $7.8M annual average valuation ranks 5th among active DTs. Knighton’s value could boost significantly should the Lions retain Ndamukong Suh, catapulting him to the top of many team’s available DT boards.
5 years, $40,875,037 ($15.8M guaranteed)
Average Salary: $8,175,007
After a monstrous 2013 season, a nagging injury kept Thomas at bay slightly in 2014. He still found the endzone 12 times in each of the past two seasons with Manning at the helm, averaging almost 50 yards receiving per game. With 20 unrestricted free agents on the Broncos offseason list, it remains to be seen who makes the cut here (especially with Manning himself undecided). An $8.175 million annual salary would make Thomas the 3rd highest average paid TE in football, behind Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski.
5 years, $36,907,237 ($12.8M guaranteed)
Average Salary: $7,381,447
Like Thomas, Cameron had an exceptional 2013 campaign, posting over 900 yards receiving and 7 TDs in a mediocre Browns offensive system. But a shoulder injury and concussion issues held him back in 2014, and are red flags as he heads toward the free agent market. Mathematically, Cameron values out nearly identical to what the Vikings just handed TE Kyle Rudolph this past season. A $7.3 million annual salary would make him the 5rd highest average paid TE in football.
3 years, $12,262,595 ($2.9M guaranteed)
Average Salary: $4,087,532
Spiller’s had trouble staying healthy since the Bills selected him 9th overall in the 2010 draft. When he has been, his impact on the offense has been average at best. But Spiller has shown flashes every now and then of being the dynamic, multi-tool weapon that Buffalo hoped he’d be. With the league now moving more toward wide-open, spread style offenses, it seems likely that a team will take a chance on Spiller and his skillset. Mathematically Spiller’s production projects at over $4M per year (as shown here), but with better running backs available this offseason, his price should dip below this mark by the time he puts pen to paper. Spiller did well under Chan Gailey in recent years, and a reunion with the Jets new OC seems to make sense.
5 years, $83,442,960 ($31M guaranteed)
Average Salary: $16,688,592
We put Eli up against Drew Brees, Jay Cutler, Tony Romo, and brother Peyton for this projection. As you may imagine, Eli’s production was below the bar, by about 12%. The result is a contract that takes him out of the Top 10 in terms of average paid QBs. While this probably won’t be the case, it’s mathematically what the numbers tell us. Eli had a better 2014, with fewer weapons (loss of Nicks to free agency and Cruz to injury). He’s quickly developed chemistry with Beckham Jr., and made TE Larry Donnell look like Antonio Gates for the better part of the season. This is a deal that should get done in the next few months.
5 years, $108,135,240 ($51M guaranteed)
Average Salary: $21,627,048
On the other hand, this is a deal we DON’T expect to get done anytime soon. The Panthers will likely let Newton play out his 5th year option ($14.6M), before putting forth a real effor to get this deal done. Newton turns 26 in May, meaning he’ll likely be 27 by the time this deal arrives. In light of this, we’ll make this a 5 year projection, taking him to 32 years of age when next eligble, good for both sides.
5 years, $100,028,220 ($32M guaranteed)
Average Salary: $20,005,644
Big Ben followed up a bounce back 2013 with a monster 2014 season, posting 4,952 passing yards, 32 touchdowns, 9 interceptions, and a career high 67.1 completion %. His 2015 cap figure of $18,395,000 is actually $500,000 less than his 2014 hit, and all signs point to a new deal forthcoming. He’s done plenty to earn it, including staying healthy in recent years (something he’s had trouble with over his career).
3 years, $33,085,976 ($19M guaranteed)
Average Salary: $11,028,658
Even at age 29 Revis remains a dominating shut-down cornerback. Teams continually refuse to challenge him, and with good reason. Only 51.9% of the balls thrown his way in 2014 were completed. Combine that with 2 INTs, and 2 TDs, and it certainly looks like Revis will demand another strong contract should the Patriots decline his $25M option for 2015. The foundation of the deal should start with the 4 year $32M contract Brent Grimes secured with the Dolphins last offseason.
5 years, $83,625,210 ($33M guaranteed)
Average Salary: $16,725,042
Injuries have been the only concern since 2011 for the former #6 overall selection. When Jones is on the field, the Falcons are a playoff-caliber offense. Statistically he values out to the highest average paid WR in the league. For this reason, the Falcons should be in no hurry to get this contract done. He’s currently locked into a $10.176M salary in 2015 per the 5th year option on his contract. From there, Atlanta can (and should) utilize the franchise tag in 2016 – which will undoubtedly be less than our $16.7M valuation.
7 years, $115,479,000 ($35.5M guaranteed)
Average Salary: $16,497,000
Tannehill has gotten progressively better since taking over the reigns in Miami. He’s completed nearly 64% of his passes over the past two seasons, while averaging 1.6 TDs and .8 INT per game over that timeframe. If the Dolphins are looking to sign him now, it’s because they’re getting a discount – as they possess the ability to extend a 5th year option on his current 1st round contract. We expect his deal to come in at or below $16M per year with this in mind.
3 years, $13,069,366 ($5M guaranteed)
Average Salary: $4,356,455
Ingram finally had the year the Saints were hoping for when they made him a first round selection in 2011, posting 964 rushing yards for 9 TDs while reeling in almost 30 catches. With Pierre Thomas and Khiry Robinson already under contract amidst a hellish Saints cap table, it’s likely Ingram test the market this March. While mathematically he values at $4.3M, realistically speaking the $4M per year mark should be the ceiling for his deal.
2 years, $9,173,292 ($4M guaranteed)
Average Salary: $4,586,646
Gore appears set to be yet another victim of the turnover in San Francisco, as he self-reported that he’s yet to hear from management about his future. The truth is with Carlos Hyde and Kendall Hunter in the mix, Gore’s best financial options are probably elsewhere anyway. He’ll certainly be linked with former OC Greg Roman (now in Buffalo), while teams like the Jets, Titans, and Broncos could all use depth at the position as well.
4 years, $21,189,244 ($8M guaranteed)
Average Salary: $5,297,311
Searcy has quietly had back to back nice seasons on an excellent Bills’ defense. While this offseason doesn’t come with the drama and flare that last did when fellow secondary-mate Jairus Byrd hit the open market, Searcy should draw plenty of interest if he’s available come March 10th. Our calculated $5.3M annual average ranks 15th among active safeties, and might actually be a bit low for Searcy, who allowed just 47% of the balls thrown his way to be caught in 2014.
5 years, $41,632,662 ($19.7M guaranteed)
Average Salary: $8,326,532
The Patriots surprised plenty of people when they opted to use the franchise tag on K Stephen Gostkowski over McCourty. This leaves less than 2 weeks to hammer out a long-term deal before he hits the open market, and signs are pointing toward him doing so. Statistically he falls just below Earl Thomas and Jairus Byrd, so his $8.3M annual average value makes sense (ranks 4th among active safeties)
3 years, $19,191,228 ($6.5M guaranteed)
Average Salary: $6,397,076
It’s somewhat hard to believe Johnson made it through the 2014 season in Houston. In any event the time appears right to part ways after 12 seasons. Now 33 years old, Johnson has dipped in production (especially finding the endzone) but can still be a major contributor to plenty of NFL offenses. Statistically over the past two seasons he’s valuing out at over $6M per year, though it’s perfectly possible he can push $10M should the market be there.
4 years, $35,780,000 ($11.5M guaranteed)
Average Salary: $8,945,000
McCoy may not be pleased to be shipped off to Buffalo this winter, but the Bills can quickly remedy that with a restructured contract that guarantees a few seasons and puts cash in his pocket now (the name of the game). McCoy is averaging over 1,110 yards rushing in his 6 NFL seasons, but hasn’t found the endzone quite as much as the other top RBs have (a product of the Eagles’ system). He’ll have a chance to become the #1 focus of the Bills offense immediately, and will likely be paid accordingly (Arian Foster earned $18M cash in year 1 of his deal with the Texans).
4 years, $35,862,000 ($18M guaranteed)
Average Salary: $8,965,500
Lynch has apparently agreed to continue his career and is headed back to Seattle to work out a deal that’s been offered. He’s proven time and time again that his production on the field trumps any controversy off it. He remains the sole focal point in the Seahawks offense and should be paid accordingly this offseason.
We’ll continue to update this article as we analyze free agents/extension candidates this offseason.
Interested in a valuation for a player not listed here?
Give us a shout @spotrac or by email info[at]spotrac.com and we’ll get him in the queue for an update to this article.