With NFL offseason activities officially underway, we’re keeping an eye on organized team activities (OTAs) and training camps across the league to identify potential contract holdouts or hold-ins. The 2020 NFL collective bargaining agreement makes it harder for players to truly hold out, which has led to the hold-in gaining popularity. But functionally, they’re the same.
A handful of marquee players have already expressed displeasure with their current contracts, and several more figure to join that list in the coming weeks. Let's look at where things stand and what resolutions may look like for the top players looking to sign new contracts before they report to their respective clubs.
DI Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams
All Donald has done since signing a record-breaking extension in 2018 is win two Defensive Player of the Year awards (2018, 2020), earn four straight First-Team All-Pro selections, generate over 100 more quarterback pressures (370) than the next highest player and win a Super Bowl.
At $22.5 million per year, Donald’s deal has yet to be surpassed by an interior defender four years later. And even now at 31 years of age, he has every right to reset the position market again himself. After finally securing his first Lombardi Trophy, Donald has suggested that retirement is not out of the question, but the Rams simply must do whatever it takes to keep him on the field for a few more years.
Cameron Heyward’s 2021 extension for $16.4 million per year with the Pittsburgh Steelers is the most for an interior defender 30 years or older, but Donald will certainly break that record in short order.
There are still three years remaining on Donald’s six-year, $135 million deal, with $55 million in cash owed. Following the blueprint of Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard, he could tack on two years to the end of his deal at a massive new money average per year with a signing bonus that takes care of him up front.
A hypothetical two-year, $60 million extension would make Donald’s full contract a five-year, $115 million pact, with the true $23 million per year average just narrowly surpassing his old contract.
QB Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals
Murray and his camp made it clear just weeks after the Super Bowl that he wants an extension this offseason, and it’s not hard to see why. The back-to-back Pro Bowl quarterback is set to earn a hair under $5.5 million in cash in 2022 and just witnessed Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield and Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, if anything, decrease their perceived value in their fourth NFL seasons.