With the 2022 NFL offseason somewhat winding down and most major additions made, we can now take a look towards the 2023 offseason. There are some phenomenal players currently on the last year of their deals, who could become free agents in 2023 if they go unsigned.
In this article, I will be covering 3 players who deserve an extension the most before the 2023 offseason begins. This will be based not only on talent but also on the player’s importance to their respective current team. Let’s start off with the 2019 MVP first:
Lamar Jackson – QB – Baltimore Ravens
All 3 of the players we will talk about on this list are absolutely amazing talents, but the one-up Lamar has on the other two? His position. Many believe quarterback is the most important position in all of sports, and I would be hard pressed to disagree with that notion as it is so vital to a team’s success.
As of right now, it sounds like negotiations for a deal are off just until the offseason process begins again next year, but frankly, there are little to no reasons as to why the Ravens should let Lamar walk. The Ravens have the 8th most cap space open for 2023 right now at roughly $29.5 million.
Lamar Jackson is an MVP, he took the Ravens to the playoff and won them a playoff game, a 2-time pro bowler and 1-time all-pro has never led the team to a losing record when on the field, and is realistically just a phenomenal QB.
With Kyler Murray recently getting a contract with $46.1 million a year on average, the expectation would be that Lamar Jackson gets near that or more, as he has proven himself to a slightly higher degree so far.
Quenton Nelson – OG – Indianapolis Colts
One of the best guards in football, if not the best is going to be due for a contract extension after this season. His importance to the Colts is something that I cannot even begin to put into words, as he has been the anchor to that offensive line ever since he entered the league.
If you are looking for a comparison contract-wise, the Jaguars recently made Brandon Scherff the highest-paid guard in the league per year at $16.5 million a season. Another comparison would be Zack Martin, who got a deal worth $84 million which is the current highest in terms of the total value.
Nelson is only going into his age 26 season and has started every game in all 4 seasons with the exception of 4 games last season. He has made the pro bowl all 4 seasons, and an all-pro team all 4 seasons (AP rookie team 2018, AP1 team 2019-2020, AP2 team 2021). He has never started less than 90% of the Colts’ offensive snaps in a season, and never lower than 97% before this year with his injury.
He has allowed 4 sacks in his 4 seasons of play on 4,029 snaps, that is 1 sack allowed per 1,007 snaps. On top of that, he has only had 26 penalties in his career, or 1 every 155 snaps taken. He is simply one of the best players in the NFL and should be paid as such for his contributions to his team.
Roquan Smith – LB – Chicago Bears
Finally, we have the young linebacker who we know now wants an extension or trade, in Roquan Smith. Smith has been one of the better linebackers in the league over the last few seasons and is still only going into his age 25 season.
Roquan has been an absolutely proficient tackling linebacker, having 100+ tackles in all 4 seasons he has played, as well as 120+ in 3 of the 4 seasons. In the last two seasons, he has 30 tackles for loss as well, which is an amazing total for a linebacker already making so many tackles.
If tackles are not your go-to stat, he also has 5 interceptions in 4 seasons, 17 pass deflections in the same span, 14 sacks in that time, and 34 pressures in 4 years (8.5 a year average). He has also made the all-pro second team twice in the last two seasons.
In terms of his presence on the field, he has played 61 of a possible 65 games in his career, starting 59 of which. In his first two seasons, he was on the field for 84% and 86% of defensive snaps respectively, and in the last two seasons, he has been on the field for 95% of snaps each year.
Roquan has requested a trade recently over his contract issue, and frankly, he deserves to be paid like a top 10 potentially top 5 linebacker in the league right now. With Fred Warner signing a 5-year $95,225,000 contract recently, Roquan should expect somewhere in the ballpark of 16-18 million dollars a year, as Warner made roughly $19 million a year.