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These 13 free agents will set the market for the 2017 NFL offseason

K.C. Alfred

The NFL salary cap is expected to climb by about $10 million in 2017, to a total of $165 million per team. Some of the thirteen players below could sign contracts that set new benchmarks at their positions.


Kirk Cousins

While playing under the franchise tag in 2016, Cousins took a small step back and the Redskins missed the playoffs. With quarterbacks such as Ryan Tannehill, Brock Osweiler, Tyrod Taylor and Sam Bradford earning at least a $17.5 million average per season it is hard to image Cousins taking a big pay cut from the $20 million he made this season. Contract Projection: 4-years, $85 million

Running Back:

Le’Veon Bell

Possibly the best running back to hit free agency since Adrian Peterson, Bell’s drug related suspension is the only factor holding his value down. Expect Bell to exceed LeSean McCoy’s $8 million average salary. Contract Projection: 3-years, $26 million

Wide Receiver:

Alshon Jeffery

Jeffery has been a big time playmaker when he is on the field but has not been on the field much lately, missing 11 games over the last two seasons. He has averaged over 70-yards per game for his career. Someone will overpay. Contract Projection: 4-years, $50 million

Terrelle Pryor

The former quarterback produced like a number one receiver in 2016. Some current players have talked poorly of Pryor in recent weeks. Contract Projection: 4-years, $38 million

Offensive Line:

Kevin Zeitler

The Bengals 2012 first round pick has developed into one of the best guards in the NFL. His contract should come in just under David DeCastro’s. Contract Projection: 5-year, $46 million

Edge Defender:

Chandler Jones

Double digit sacks in three of the last four seasons, for two different teams, and still improving at 26 years old. Jones will be paid if the Cardinals allow him to hit the open market. Contract Projection: 1-year, $15 million (Franchise tag)

Melvin Ingram

Ingram is one of the more underrated players in the league. With pass rushers at such a premium his contract should end up closer to Justin Houston’s than Ryan Kerrigan’s. Contract Projection: 6-years, $80 million


Jamie Collins

After being traded from New England to Cleveland, Collins wants to cash in. The Browns are devoid of talent and likely to pay whatever is necessary to retain Collins. Contract Projection: 5-years, $56 million

Dont’a Hightower

The Patriots defensive centerpiece always seems to be dealing with one injury or another. He is a bonafide playmaker but a notch below Collins, Luke Kuechly and Bobby Wagner at middle linebacker. Contract Projection: 4-years, $34 million


Trumaine Johnson

Last offseason the Rams slapped the $14 million franchise tag on Johnson, choosing him over Janoris Jenkins. Elite size coupled with ballhawk skills at a premium position will make Johnson one of the best paid players in the league. Jenkins signed with the Giants in 2016 for a $12.5 million per season. Contract Projection: 5-years, $67 million

Stephon Gilmore

Another top-ten corner in the NFL, and only 26 years old. Gilmore should slot in right above Byron Maxwell. Contract Projection: 6-years, $65 million

A.J. Bouye

Bouye broke out for the Texans this season as one of the highest graded corners in the league. His cover skills will be in high demand. Contract Projection: 5-years, $48 million


Eric Berry

This cancer survivor has been the best safety in the league over the last two years. He played under the franchise tag for the Chiefs in 2016 after a tough negotiation did not result in a long term agreement. Contract Projection: 4-years, $42 million