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Jordan Love headlines 13 NFL players who have earned big-money contracts in 2024 offseason

With just four teams remaining in the postseason, the offseason feels especially near. Now feels like a prime time to explore which players have earned big-money contracts in the 2024 offseason.

I did this same exercise a year ago, identifying 10 players who I thought earned a massive pay day. I must say, I nailed the five quarterbacks, as Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, Jalen Hurts, Daniel Jones and Geno Smith all proceeded to sign lucrative extensions.

I'm taking another crack at it this year. One thing to note: Rather than simply listing every productive player who is either headed for free agency or becoming eligible for an extension, I wanted to focus on those who played well enough in 2023 specifically that, logically, we can assume they will be in line for better contracts than they would have been before the season. (In other words, you won't see names like superstar receiver Justin Jefferson, who has long been bound for a healthy payday.)

Below are the 13 players (with far fewer QBs in the bunch) deserving of fat new contracts in 2024.


Jordan Love
Green Bay Packers · QB · Age: 25

Jordan Love signed an extension last offseason, ensuring his spot on the roster through 2024 (essentially replacing the fifth-year option on his rookie contract). He then broke out in 2023, leading the Packers to the postseason and one road playoff win (and nearly another) in his first season as the starter -- solidifying his place in the Packers' plans for much longer than next season. He blossomed right in front of our eyes down the stretch, displaying what he learned when sitting behind four-time MVP Aaron Rodgers for three seasons. His late-game interceptions cost him at times early in the season, and they did again in Saturday’s Divisional Round loss. But for much of the last two months, there was no quarterback better than Love, who led the NFL in touchdown-to-interception ratio (21:1) and offensive touchdowns (23) from Week 11 through Super Wild Card Weekend. 

Kirk Cousins
Minnesota Vikings · QB · 35

Kirk Cousins has proven to be a solid quarterback throughout his career, resulting in multiple contract extensions with Minnesota. Prior to his season-ending Achilles injury, Cousins was the best part of a struggling Vikings offense, completing nearly 70 percent of his pass attempts for 2,331 yards and an 18:5 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Minnesota’s inconsistency at the position after Cousins’ injury spoke volumes about his importance. Justin Jefferson (who should also get paid this offseason) wants him back, and general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah seems to be in the same camp. But there will be other QB-needy teams that could seek Cousins’ services this offseason.

Baker Mayfield
Tampa Bay Buccaneers · QB · Age: 28

Taking over for Tom Brady on a one-year deal, Baker Mayfield led the Bucs to a division title for the third straight season, earning a playoff victory -- and a potential extended stay in Tampa. The former No. 1 overall pick looked rejuvenated in this offense, posting a career-high 4,044 pass yards and 28 pass TDs (both ranking in the top 10 in the league) and routinely keeping the Bucs competitive. Mayfield isn’t perfect (he’s got to protect the ball better), but when you look at the QB landscape, there are far worse options teams could trot out at QB1.

Tee Higgins
Cincinnati Bengals · WR · Age: 25

Tee Higgins isn’t Ja’Marr Chase, but he is a serviceable No. 1 receiver in his own right. The 6-foot-4, 219-pound wideout made a ton of plays for the Bengals this season -- none bigger than the touchdown reach the helped lead to an OT win over Minnesota in Week 15. He endured his own injury issues in the final year of his rookie deal, missing five games, but he still put up 656 yards and five touchdowns on 42 receptions. When healthy, he’s more than capable of elevating any pass game.  

Michael Pittman
Indianapolis Colts · WR · Age: 26

The Colts' offense was a bit of a question mark after Gardner Minshew replaced an injured Anthony Richardson at quarterback, but Michael Pittman Jr. was a strong piece in the pass game for Shane Steichen’s offense, posting career highs of 109 receptions and 1,152 receiving yards. He’s an underrated guy in the league’s WR1 landscape, but he’s tough, strong and catches almost anything that comes his way. With his rookie contract having run out, the Colts could use the franchise tag or extend him. If they don’t, he’ll have plenty of suitors. 


Chris Jones
Kansas City Chiefs · DE · Age: 29

Chris Jones agreed to a one-year deal that ended a contract holdout after Kansas City’s Week 1 loss to Detroit -- then went to work as we all expected him to. The five-time Pro Bowler posted 10.5 sacks -- tied with George Karlaftis for the team lead and ranking second among defensive tackles -- 13 tackles for loss and 29 quarterback hits. At 29 years old, Jones is one of the top players at his position in the league, wrecking games against the pass and run for a Chiefs defense that ranked second in scoring and overall in 2023. He’s a staple in Steve Spagnuolo’s unit, which kept Kansas City in games while the offense worked through some bumps this season. He’s more than deserving of a huge payday.

Josh Allen
Jacksonville Jaguars · LB · Age: 26

Josh Allen burst onto the NFL scene as a rookie, recording 10.5 sacks on the way to a Pro Bowl nod, but his production fell off over his next three seasons. In 2023 (the final year of his rookie contract), Allen exploded, showing why he was a top-10 draft pick. His impressive 17.5 sacks set a Jaguars single-season franchise record and tied him for second-most in the league. His breakout campaign should lead to a big second contract, either from the Jags or another pass rush-needy team. I'd like to think Allen is a piece that new Jags defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen would want to build around.

Christian Wilkins
Miami Dolphins · DT · Age: 28

Extension talks with the Dolphins were tabled prior to the beginning of the 2023 season -- and then Christian Wilkins balled out for Vic Fangio’s improved defense. The soon-to-be free agent tallied a career-high nine sacks (after posting just 11.5 sacks in his first four seasons combined) and a team-high 23 QB hits. This is the type of production that’s expected from a former 13th overall pick, and it's likely to make the disruptive defensive tackle a highly sought-after free agent, should he reach the market.

Justin Madubuike
Baltimore Ravens · DT · Age: 26

As a third-round draft pick in 2020, Justin Madubuike was billed as an explosive, athletic defensive tackle -- and after several pedestrian seasons, that’s precisely what we saw him become on the final year of his rookie deal. Madubuike broke out in a huge way in his second season under coordinator Mike Macdonald, leading all defensive tackles with 13 sacks (ninth among all players), making him one of just three players at the position with at least 13 sacks in a season since 2008 -- joining Aaron Donald and Chris Jones, who’ve each done it twice. 

Brian Burns
Carolina Panthers · LB · Age: 25

There has been talk about Brian Burns getting a new contract for several years -- and now his contract is finally running out. His 2023 sack total (8.0) won't jump out at you, but he led Carolina with 42 pressures, per Next Gen Stats, fronting a defense that ranked fourth overall and third against the pass -- often serving as the only thing keeping the Panthers in games, especially with rookie quarterback Bryce Young enduring growing pains. Burns only has one season of double-digit sacks on his resume (12.5 in 2022), but his value is in his ability to provide a consistently disruptive presence. Pass rushers are huge in this league, and Burns should have no problem finding suitors as a free agent. 

Danielle Hunter
Minnesota Vikings · LB · Age: 29

When healthy, Danielle Hunter is one of the best pass rushers in the NFL. He proved that once again in this season after posting a career-high 16.5 sacks under first-year Vikings defensive coordinator Brian Flores. Having collected 62 sacks and four Pro Bowl nods over the last five seasons, Hunter is a player whom offensive coordinators must always account for. Thanks to the one-year extension he signed last July, he can't be tagged this offseason, meaning he should cash in.

L'Jarius Sneed
Kansas City Chiefs · CB · Age: 27

L’Jarius Sneed has steadily improved over the four seasons of his rookie deal, evolving from a rotational piece into a shutdown corner for Steve Spagnuolo. The Chiefs defense was instrumental in helping the team get back to the AFC title game, with Sneed being a major factor on the back end of the unit. In the regular season, Sneed didn’t allow a single touchdown and had two interceptions in coverage, according to Next Gen Stats. He’s had a few too many penalties for my liking, but he’s showed up in big spots against No. 1 receivers, locking up guys like Justin Jefferson and A.J. Brown this season. 

Antoine Winfield Jr.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers · S · Age: 25

Antoine Winfield Jr. is always around the ball making plays as a smart, opportunistic safety for Todd Bowles’ secondary. He’s a do-it-all defender who recorded 122 tackles, six sacks, a league-high six forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and three interceptions this season. After earning his first All-Pro nod in the final year of his rookie contract, a well-deserved payday shouldn't be far behind.

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