Contract/Team Predictions For The 5 Most Important NFL Free Agents This Offseason

Now that football season is officially seven months away, teams can fully dedicate their time to figuring out how they’re going to lose to the Patriots next season. With each passing offseason, teams are throwing more and more money around to secure the key pieces for a chance at a deep playoff run. These are the 5 players likely to break the bank this offseason:

Alshon Jeffery – Wide Receiver

Jeffery is coming off consecutive disappointing seasons due to a combination of injuries, off the field issues and inept quarterback play. But the talent in the 26-year old from South Carolina is clearly there and a team will give him big bucks hoping that a change of scenery will be all he needs. If the Bears decide to franchise tag him for the second consecutive year, he’ll make just under $18 million next season.

Given the other glaring issues on their roster, it seems very possible they’ll simply let him test free agency. The Titans could use a No. 1 receiver for Marcus Mariota, and have plenty of cap space. Jeffery should command a deal around the same amount that Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas got in 2015 (five years, $70 million).

Prediction: Five years, $72 million; signs with Titans

Melvin Ingram – Outside Linebacker

Hampered by injuries early in his career, Melvin Ingram is just starting to show the league a dose of his immense potential. After only recording 6 total sacks in his first three seasons, he has racked up 18.5 over the last two, moving him into the upper echelon of edge rushers. The Los Angeles Chargers (still feels weird writing that) will have interest in bringing him back, but they might be wary about using the franchise tag on him due to the contracts recent premier edge defenders have signed.

With the evolution of high-powered offenses, a stable of competent edge rushers are more important than ever. The Colts stand out as a potential fit with longtime veteran Robert Mathis retiring. His new contract should be close to the deal Justin Houston inked in 2015 (six years, $101 million).

Prediction: Six years, $100 million; signs with Colts

Kawann Short – Defensive Tackle

With 17 sacks and 110 tackles over the last two years, Short seems destined for a huge payday in a market that has been very favorable to defensive tackles. Considering their debacle with Josh Norman last offseason, Carolina will move quickly to lock up one of its key pieces on defense. The Panthers need all hands back on deck if they hope to return to prominence. It should be around the same amount that Fletcher Cox received before last season (six years, $102 million). Needless to say, the Panthers won’t be coming up short this offseason.

Prediction: Six years, $105 million; resigns with Panthers

Chandler Jones – Outside Linebacker

Despite the fact that the Patriots knew they could still win the Super Bowl without him, Jones remains one of the elite young pass rushers in the game today. He’s only 26 years old and already has 47 sacks in his five-year career. Arizona gave up a second round pick to acquire Jones, so if they let him walk, the front office will have some explaining to do. The franchise tag looms as a real possibility here, especially since elite pass rushers are needed all around the league.

If the Cards don’t seal a deal with him now, Jones will have plenty of suitors that will be more than willing to fork over top dollar. He’ll likely get close to Von Miller’s record-setting deal when it’s all said and done (six years, $114.5 million). While it’s not exciting, Jones will also be back with the same team next year, hoping to show the Patriots that they made a rare mistake.

Prediction: Six years, $111 million; resigns with Cardinals

Kirk Cousins – Quarterback

Following another impressive season as Washington’s starting quarterback, Cousins is set to have a large payday in his second consecutive season as a free agent. Playing under the franchise tag last season, Cousins would make nearly $24 million in 2017 if the Redskins decide to tag him once again. Washington risks losing trust from Cousins if they don’t reward his solid play with a lengthy deal.

If the two sides can agree to a long-term contract, Cousins could get a deal similar to Andrew Luck’s with the Colts (six years, $140 million). You know Kirk likes that.

Prediction: Six years, $135 million; resigns with Redskins

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