The 2019 NFL draft class has proven to be loaded with talent on both sides of the ball — particularly at the wide receiver position.
A few notable stars, such as A.J. Brown and Las Vegas Raiders edge defender Maxx Crosby, have already signed top-of-market deals this offseason, but the vast majority are still looking to cash in on their second contracts before Week 1 of the 2022 season kicks off in September.
Kyler Murray and Deebo Samuel‘s extensions have led the news this offseason. From Samuel requesting a trade, then seemingly making up with the San Francisco 49ers to Murray’s extension talks becoming public early on in the offseason, there is much debate on these contracts and how big they might end up being.
Which players from the Class of 2019 could sign massive deals before the season begins, and which might benefit from waiting until 2023 for an extension? Pro Football Focus projects what the 10 biggest deals from the class could look like, from Murray’s $250-plus million deal to large payouts for the wide receivers.
The projected contracts are ranked by guaranteed money, starting with Murray:
No. 1 overall pick
Murray and his camp put pressure on the Cardinals to get an extension done just weeks after the Super Bowl in late February, wasting absolutely no time before bringing extension talks to the public. Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen — the only first-round quarterback from the 2018 draft who got an extension done last offseason — signed his pact on August 6, 2021, so there’s still plenty of time to work out a new deal for Murray.
Because Murray earned two Pro Bowl nods in his first three seasons, his $29.7 million fifth-year option for 2023 is the largest in NFL history — and he surely wants a multi-year extension that reflects the strong start to his career.
In the meantime, the Cardinals made an aggressive move on Day 1 of the 2022 draft to acquire wide receiver Marquise Brown from the Baltimore Ravens — a college teammate of Murray’s at Oklahoma — to be the top receiving option while DeAndre Hopkins serves a six-game suspension.
Murray has earned the highest PFF grade on throws of 20-plus yards in the NFL over the last two seasons with a 98.8 mark, and the Brown addition will go a long way in continuing that trend. All signs point to a deal eventually getting done, even as Murray drives a hard bargain at the negotiating table while looking for a deal that reflects the new quarterback market, where Aaron Rodgers is now the top earner at just over $50 million per year.
Contract projection: Six years, $280 million ($46.67 million per year), $155 million total guaranteed
No. 2 overall pick
Bosa has been one of the league’s best edge defenders from Day 1 of his career, even while missing the majority of the 2020 season with a torn ACL. Since 2019, Bosa’s 18.9% PFF pass rush win rate ranks seventh, and his 16% pressure percentage ranks third among edge defenders.
He was the 2019 Defensive Rookie of the Year, and — more importantly for contract purposes — made two Pro Bowls in his first three seasons. As a result, Bosa’s 2023 fifth-year option carries an increased value of $17,869,000. His brother, Los Angeles Chargers star Joey Bosa, reset the position market with his five-year, $135 million contract in 2020. Nick will almost certainly do the same. He has a good shot to become the first non-quarterback in NFL history to earn $30 million annually, and deserves every penny.
Contract projection: Five years, $150 million ($30M per year), $105 million total guaranteed
No. 16 overall pick
Burns was productive at Florida State and was a favorite of many analysts prior to the 2019 draft, but he fell to the No. 16 overall pick because of questions surrounding his size and ability to defend against the run. Through three seasons these concerns appear to have some merit, as Burns has struggled against the run and as a tackler. However, that is not what gets an edge rusher paid in this league — getting after the quarterback does, and that’s where Burns excels.
Burns’ 107 quarterback pressures over the last two seasons rank 11th among edge defenders, his 83.8 pass-rush grade ranks 16th, and his 18 sacks are tied for 12th with Tampa Bay Buccaneers edge defender Shaquil Barrett.
Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer has made it clear that getting a long-term deal done with Burns is a top priority.
Contract projection: Five years, $120 million ($24M per year), $95 million total guaranteed
No. 19 overall pick
Simmons may not have been a household name prior to the 2021 season, but he definitely should be now after a dominant campaign that extended into the Titans’ brief playoff appearance, where he sacked Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow three times in a narrow 19-16 defeat. Simmons tore his ACL just two months prior to the 2019 draft, but has already demonstrated why he remained a top-20 draft selection with rare strength and explosiveness off the line.
A handful of interior defenders — the Giants’ Leonard Williams, Colts’ DeForest Buckner and Chiefs’ Chris Jones — are new members of the $20 million per year club, but none have been able to match the great Aaron Donald‘s $22.5 million per year deal signed in 2018. Donald is looking for an extension this offseason that, even at 31 years old, could best his own record.
Therefore, Simmons could wait until this deal gets done before resuming negotiations under a new position market shortly before the 2022 season gets underway.
Simmons is one of just seven interior defenders with more than 100 quarterback pressures over the last two seasons, landing at sixth with 103. The current five highest-paid interior defenders in the NFL — along with Cameron Heyward, whose deal ranks ninth and was signed when he was 31 years old — round out the group. There is no reason Simmons won’t join this group of elite interior pass-rushers from a financial standpoint as well.
Contract projection: Five years, $110 million ($22M per year), $70 million total guaranteed
No. 3 overall pick
Williams didn’t get off to the blazing fast start that many anticipated after a remarkable final college season at Alabama, but he has shown plenty of flashes through three seasons. The Jets should remain optimistic that he can become one of the best players at his position in due time, particularly as an interior pass-rusher.
Over the last two seasons, Williams’ 73 quarterback pressures are a top-20 mark among interior defenders, and his 77.1 pass-rush grade ranks 15th. Now entering his second season under head coach Robert Saleh with more talent along the defensive line around him — such as edge defenders Carl Lawson and rookie Jermaine Johnson II — Williams could have a breakout campaign in his fourth season.
Free-agent addition cornerback D.J. Reed and 2022 fourth overall pick cornerback Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner also figure to keep the ball in opposing quarterbacks’ hands longer after the snap, which could help Williams get home more frequently.
All of that said, this deal may not come until after the 2022 season, which gives Williams a great opportunity to boost his value as much as possible before cashing in.
Contract projection: Five years, $102.5 million ($20.5 million per year), $65 million total guaranteed
No. 64 overall pick
Arguably the most physically imposing wide receiver from the 2019 class, Metcalf has had a historic start to his career. His 3,170 receiving yards through three seasons rank as a top-20 mark all-time. This feat was accomplished while playing opposite Tyler Lockett, who signed a four-year, $69 million extension before the 2021 season.
Metcalf’s unique combination of size and speed will always carry a ton of value in the NFL, as he can take the top off the defense in addition to racking up yards after the catch on quick outs and screen passes. When Metcalf isn’t hauling in catch after catch, he is going toe-to-toe with Olympic sprinters, running a 10.36-second 100-meter dash at 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds in a USA Track and Field event.
With Russell Wilson under center, Metcalf’s 1,130 receiving yards on 20-plus-yard throws ranked fifth among wide receivers while his 11 deep touchdowns were the second-most in the league. The Seahawks may have no choice but to have two top-paid wide receivers to help whichever quarterback ultimately starts for them in Week 1.
Contract projection: Five years, $130 million ($26M per year), $60 million total guaranteed
Field Yates and Mike Clay break down the wide receivers who are ranked 11-20 in the fantasy dynasty rankings.
No. 36 overall pick
Now moving to the other side of the ball for the 49ers. With negotiations seemingly back on track after a trade request before the draft, Samuel should cash in with a monster deal in a wide receiver market that has exploded this offseason.
Samuel was a major reason the 49ers reached Super Bowl LIV in his rookie campaign, leading the team in pretty much every receiving category while his 2.04 yards per route run was a top-15 mark among wide receivers. Samuel may have been even more important for the 49ers this past postseason, as his 87.6 receiving grade ranked third among all receivers, while his 77.4 rushing grade ranked second.
Samuel’s unique “wide back” role earned him 88 carries in 2021, and is something that will impact negotiations and his financial future. Agent Tory Dandy negotiated the same contracts (three years, $60 million) for clients Mike Williams and Chris Godwin.
Contract projection: Four years, $100 million ($25 million per year), $57.5 million total guaranteed
No. 5 overall pick
This extension may have to wait until the 2023 offseason as Tampa Bay goes all-in on another Super Bowl quest with Tom Brady. But the Buccaneers have shown a willingness to get extensions done early with players like interior defender Vita Vea. With Chicago Bears linebacker Roquan Smith potentially set to become the first off-ball linebacker to eclipse the $20 million per year mark later this offseason, the Buccaneers could once again lock in a franchise cornerstone early.
White’s rare physical ability at off-ball linebacker makes him an impact player in many different facets, and he is well out in front of his peers when it comes to rushing the passer.
Since 2019, White’s 76 quarterback pressures and 13 sacks are the most of any off-ball linebacker, and he also ranks tied for sixth with 36 tackles for loss or no gain over the three-year span.
White does over-pursue, miss the occasional tackle and has struggled in coverage for stretches of his career, but the Buccaneers seem optimistic they can clean up the holes in his game — especially while working alongside one of the best coverage linebackers of this decade in Lavonte David.
White will be just 24 years old for the entirety of his fourth NFL season in 2022 — younger than a handful of players in this year’s draft class — so there’s a lot of room for improvement. That is a scary thought considering the difference-maker he already is through his first three years in the league.
Contract projection: Five years, $105 million ($21M per year), $55 million total guaranteed
No. 76 overall pick
While the Commanders’ decision to trade for quarterback Carson Wentz was met with a lot of criticism, he will undoubtedly be the best quarterback McLaurin has worked with so far in the NFL. And that’s worrisome for opposing teams considering how productive McLaurin has been to start his career.
Since 2019, McLaurin has garnered 139 targets where the pass was deemed inaccurate per PFF charting — the third-most in the NFL over the span — and his 22 explosive receptions of 15-plus yards on such passes ranks second. His 17 contested catches on such passes ranked No. 1 in the NFL.
Despite his surroundings, McLaurin’s 86.6 receiving grade since 2019 ranks 13th among all wide receivers over the span and trails only A.J. Brown from the 2019 draft class. Off the field, McLaurin is heralded as one of the leaders of this Commanders team and is a fan favorite. Washington appears willing to play hardball with McLaurin on a long-term deal after signing free agent Curtis Samuel in 2021 and using its first-round pick in this year’s draft on Penn State product Jahan Dotson. But choosing to go this route certainly wouldn’t play well with fans or in the locker room.
Washington should commit big-time money to a player who may only get better with stronger play at the quarterback position.
Contract projection: Five years, $115 million ($23M per year), $53 million total guaranteed
No. 12 overall pick
Gary has a case for being the breakout player of the 2021 season, as his staggering 81 quarterback pressures in 2021 ranked second among edge defenders. When accounting for snaps played, Gary’s 18.4% pressure percentage narrowly outpaced Maxx Crosby for the top mark of the season.
Crosby, a fellow member of the 2019 draft, would have made this list if he hadn’t already signed a four-year, $94 million extension in March with the Raiders that made him the fifth-highest paid player at the position. Working against Crosby was the fact he was a fourth-round pick, but Gary has no such issue.
Gary had a slower start to his career as he transitioned from a defensive end at Michigan that usually had his hand in the dirt to a stand-up, outside linebacker in Green Bay. His ascendancy as he reworked his body composition and pass-rush arsenal should serve as the blueprint for 2022 No. 1 overall pick Travon Walker, who faces a very similar transition at the next level.
Gary has put everything together from a skill standpoint, and the sky is truly the limit. He has yet to play 700 snaps in a season, as he started his career working behind Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith, but with Za’Darius now on the Minnesota Vikings, Gary should be the focal point of the Packers’ front seven.
The Packers may elect to wait on Gary as well, but with the money cleared up from trading Davante Adams, they could explore a multi-year deal before Gary repeats his 2021 performance and asks for the moon in negotiations.
Contract projection: Five years, $130 million ($26M per year), $45 million total guaranteed (Note: the Packers typically don’t guarantee any money outside of signing bonuses for non-quarterbacks).