The final year of a contract can often provide the necessary motivation for NFL players looking for their next big payday. Below are ten players entering the final season of their current deal and are talented enough to be looking to showcase their desirability for 2023-2024. If you are looking for the best in spread betting on the NFL you can find more information here.
Rashaad Penny, RB, Seattle Seahawks
Seahawks running back Rashaad Penny finished the 2021 season on a tear, averaging a league-best 6.3 yards per carry after an explosive Week 13 performance against the Texans. What set this Penny apart from previous iterations was his ability to force missed tackles at a far higher rate than his career. Earning himself a one-year contract with Seattle, Penny will look to show that his end of season improvement was not a fluke as he plays for a longer deal. FIrst and foremost will be Penny proving his health.
JJ Watt, DE, Arizona Cardinals
Watt, a three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year winner, could be in store for a massive year along the Cardinals’ defensive line. The veteran missed 10 games last season with a shoulder injury, registering only one sack despite being a leader in pressures before he got hurt. He has not had more than five sacks in the last three seasons but will be counted on to lead the Arizona defense alongside fellow defensive end Zach Allen in his contract year. When healthy he is one of the most difficult defensive lineman in the league to block.
Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants
Barkley has been beset by injuries since winning Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2018. After averaging only 3.7 yards per carry last season 2022 will prove to be a big year for Saquon two years removed from a major injury suffered in September 2020. Is Barkley finally in an offense capable of using his diverse rushing and receiving skills? Or does his decline in advanced stats indicate he is past his peak? The looming free agency means that 2022 will serve as an audition to the league that he can prove to be a No.1 running back going forward.
James Bradberry, CB, Philadelphia Eagles
Nearing his age 29 season, there is still time for Bradberry to receive another big contract. Having been released by the Giants in May, Philadelphia took a flier by signing the former pro-bowler to a one-year $7.5 million dollar contract. He had a career high of four interceptions and recovered a pair of fumbles this past season. The New York Giants cost saving exercise looks like doing their NFC East rivals a favor.
Josh Jacobs, RB, Las Vegas Raiders
A first-round pick in 2019, Jacobs is entering a critical season in 2022 in what could be his last of the Silver & Black. Will the infusion of pass-catching talent like Davante Adams lead to fewer opportunities for Jacobs in 2022, or will the field open up for Jacobs with defenses focused on their elite receiving core? The answer to this question will have a significant impact on Jacobs’ future with the franchise.
Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens
The biggest contract question mark going into the 2022 season, the Ravens and Jackson have been negotiating a long-term contract for a while and it’s hard to believe that the 2019 MVP won’t receive a huge extension sooner rather than later. An injury interrupted 2021 campaign will have Jackson looking to replicate the success of his MVP season, should he do so expect the elite rushing quarterback to get paid.
Quenton Nelson, OG, Indianapolis Colts
Regarded as one of the most dominant players in his position, Nelson has been a Pro Bowler in all four of his NFL seasons. After missing four games last year due to injury he is looking to get back on track and earn a contract as one of the highest-paid guards in the game. He is one of the top reasons that Jonathan Taylor was able to rush for 1,811 yards and 18 touchdowns last season and as a pass protector he’s allowed just four sacks in four seasons.
Jordan Poyer, S, Buffalo Bills
The former seventh-round pick signed with the Bills in 2017 and immediately found his stride in Buffalo becoming an integral part of the secondary and a leader of the Bills defense. Poyer wants to be in Buffalo for the foreseeable future and had his best ever season in 2021, being named an All-Pro for the first time after collecting five interceptions and three sacks. He will try to repeat in 2022 as he plays for what could be his largest pay-day.
Roquan Smith, LB, Chicago Bears
Smith finally looks to be getting the national recognition his performances deserve this offseason, and now he takes on the mantle as the face of Chicago’s defense after the departures of Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks. He’s been a second-team All-Pro in back-to-back seasons including 163 tackles and three sacks last season. Should Smith continue his upward trajectory and stay injury free, he looks set for a huge contract after this season.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
Coming off an injury hampered season for the Pittsburgh Steelers with only 129 receiving yards in five games, it’s fair to say that Kansas City is buying low on Smith-Schuster. Having traded star wide receiver Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins there is an opportunity for a strong year catching passes from Patrick Mahomes for one of the top teams, Smith-Schuster could earn a significant multi-year deal should he prove his talent and health.