A deep dive into prospective negotiations for Rams WR Cooper Kupp & Broncos QB Russell Wilson, plus quick thoughts on a dozen or so other potential extension candidates. Also, Aaron Judge is playing himself into the perfect next contract storm, and Rafael Nadal's magic is still unparalleled.
Projects to a 4 year, $110M extension in our system., ($27M+ per year). Has publicly stated that he’s willing to structure in a way to be team friendly (which is incredibly smart amidst a point of the season where much of the dialogue is about cranky players holding out for as much money as possible).
There’s 2 years, nearly $30M left on his current deal and quite a bit of bonus proration that will transfer to the new deal…so cutting a few corners on new money does make sense for the Rams. For starters, turning that $30M into a bonus is simple math. Doing so could drop his 2022 cap down to $10M or so ($8M saved).
I’d be seeking a 3 year, $75M extension for Kupp - or 5 years, $105M total. Stefon Diggs got a 4th year from Buffalo, because they structured a double bonus contract for him. The 2 are about 150 days apart in age, are on arguably the two best teams in football, and have high paid QBs, so contracts of similar shape and weight make sense here. Diggs got 6 for $124M total value, 3 years, $68M practically speaking.
The Rams LOVE to guarantee future years early, so i’d expect Kupp to get at least 2 ½ years guaranteed out of the gate, 3 years guaranteed by March 2023, 4 years guaranteed by March 2024. He should be eyeing around $90M over the next 4 years, which would be Top 3, but far behind Davante Adams’ $103.75M in LV.
Should they? No. The Rams not only laid the groundwork for how this process should go, they perfected it. Stafford and Wilson were in very similar points of their career when their longtime franchises finally let go. Give it a minute to settle at the new spot, then reward.
Also notably, the Broncos defense is a microcosm of what the Rams had in place when Stafford put on their jersey. It’s not fair to say “Aaron Donald isn’t on that Broncos defensive line”, but it’s certainly not false. Bradley Chubb has been wildly inconsistent, and is set to play out a 5th year option, with a tag in his future. DJ Jones and Randy Gregory were smart, but hopeful acquisitions this March. Denver has done well to build a surplus of defensive backs over the past two offseasons to directly counter the ridiculous QB power in their division.
Furthermore, Russell Wilson isn’t walking into a fully mature Sean McVay system, where everyone already knows their role, and it was simply Stafford’s job to get up to speed as quickly as possible to be the final piece of the puzzle. That’s not the case in Denver. New Head Coach. New O-Coordinator. New D-Coordinator. New S/T-Coordinator. Hell, even New OWNER soon.
I’m not saying this won’t work. It should work, but reasonable analysts should have this thing pegged for 2023, not 2022. The most anyone should be asking for this season is clear chemistry between Russ and the weapons. A “rebirth” of Russell Wilson the superstar, and cohesion/competency from the coaching staff, and maybe 15 sacks from Bradley Chubb.
And for those saying “do it now, or the price will just go up when this team is one of the best in football come Week 8”. First - Duh. Second, there’s a fully guaranteed $230M contract, and a $50M per year contract already on the books. I think the glass ceiling was shattered a few minutes ago at this position thank you very much.
Who’s Next Contract Candidates (non holdouts/tags)?
Minkah Fitzpatrick, Steelers. Weird situation for another defensive contract with so much in flux offensively, and the Jamal Adams scenario in Seattle leaves this comparable move with a bad taste in our mouths, but this thing probably gets done around training camp. He, Jessie Bates, and Derwin James are all probably hovering the $18M per year mark, with Bates being the less likely candidate based on his team.
The Packers will likely extend OL Elgton Jenkins in the very near future. He’s got experience all over the line, and projects to start at right tackle this year, with a very possible move to LT in 2023 should GB move on from Bakhtiari. Jordan Mailata’s $16M per year deal is a good fit.
Much of the Colts news right now circles around Kenny Moore’s contract dispute, but Indy should be focusing on Quenton Nelson instead. The #6 overall guard is set to play out a 5 year option, and will reset this market ($16.5M currently), if not shatter it. 4 years, $80M could be the rate here.
Jordan Poyer is away from the Bills currently as he requests a sweetener on his 1 year, $6.7M remaining. At 31 this won't be anywhere near the James/Bates/Minkah neighborhood. But a 2 year, $25M+ tack on makes sense, especially since void years can make the cap work for Buffalo.
Jeffery Simmons is a forgotten name, and the Titans’ offense is in a bit of flux right now (Tannehill 1 and done? Brown/Julio gone), but they’ve committed to the defense already, so doubling down on a Simmons deal makes sense. This won’t be a team-friendly contract though, as Simmons’ versatility puts him in the $20M per year range.
With Deebo’s future a question mark, the Niners will likely use some of their newfound cap space to lock in Nick Bosa, who should join his brother near the top of the defensive contract rankings. TJ Watt’s $28M is probably a baseline, especially if/when Aaron Donald comes in north of $30M.
DK Metcalf probably doesn’t love the QB situation in Seattle, but that shouldn’t stop him from accepting a deal at or above AJ Brown’s 4 year, $100M pact in Philly. It’s possible there’s a staring contest happening here, as reports about Baker, Darnold, and Garoppolo still swirl the Seahawks, but Metcalf needs to strike while the iron is hot - and force his way out if the wheels do totally fall off.
View our Next Contract Series piece detailing Aaron Judge's path to free agency this winter.