Nick Bosa Contract Extension: Why he deserves $33.5 million per year

2H8BP9R San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa (97) celebrates after sacking Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (not pictured) during the second

  • Nick Bosa is next. in line for a top-of-the-market deal: Players such as the Carolina PanthersBrian Burns and Green Bay PackersRashan Gary (among several others) could be in line for major deals, but odds are the market will be reset before Week 1 by the San Francisco 49ers superstar
  • Contract projection: We think a contract in the ballpark of five years, $167.5 million ($33.5 million per year) could be about where this monster extension ultimately lands.
  • Well deserved: Bosa has easily been one of the NFL's premier defenders in recent years, as illustrated by the Defensive Player of the Year award he received for his play last season.
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

With top-of-market extensions continuing to roll in for interior defenders in the 2019 draft class, there has been almost no news about a talented crop of edge rushers in the same class. Players such as the Carolina PanthersBrian Burns and Green Bay PackersRashan Gary (among several others) could be in line for major deals, but odds are the market will be reset before Week 1 by San Francisco 49ers superstar Nick Bosa

The Atlanta Falcons defense has 36 sacks over the last two seasons… Bosa alone has 34. Looking at just true pass sets, Bosa’s 23.5% pass rush win rate and 19.8% pressure percentage are both top-10 marks over the last two seasons as well. And he’s not just a pass-rusher, either, as his 72.9 run defense grade since 2021 is a top-20 mark among edge defenders while his 36 defensive stops against the run tied for 12th. 

Add in the awards and accolades, namely an NFL Defensive Player of the Year honor for 2022 to go along with a first-team All-Pro nod and third Pro Bowl, and Bosa is in line to dramatically reset the top of the market. 

T.J. Watt reset the market two offseasons ago in 2021 with a four-year, $112.001 million extension that averages just over $28 million a year. Before Watt, Nick’s brother Joey Bosa pushed the market to new heights with a five-year, $135 million extension that contained the most total guaranteed money ($102 million) and fully guaranteed money ($78 million) ever for a non-quarterback. The below table denotes how the top edge rusher has broken down since Von Miller’s deal signed back in 2016 with the Denver Broncos

Player Average per year Percentage increase APY as % of Cap at signing New fully guaranteed $ New total guaranteed $
Von Miller $19.083M 12% 12.3% $42,000,000 $70,000,000
Khalil Mack $23.5M 23% 13.3% $46,154,000 $76,154,000
Myles Garrett $25M 6% 12.6% $30,203,875 $80,203,875
Joey Bosa $27M 8% 13.6% $63,640,000 $87,640,000
T.J. Watt $28.002M 4% 15.3%* $69,317,529 $69,317,529

* Covid-19 caused the salary cap to drop in 2021, artificially skewing this percentage

After the Chicago Bears traded two first-round picks for the right to pay Khalil Mack, he exploded the market with his six-year extension that he’s still playing on in Los Angeles today. Cleveland signed a great value extension with Myles Garrett, which likely came in a bit below his true value after he was suspended to finish out the 2018 season, and then we have the aforementioned Bosa and Watt. 

One offseason after Watt, Los Angeles Rams interior defender Aaron Donald is now the NFL’s highest-paid defensive player at $31,666,667 per year. Flash forward to today, and the reigning Defensive Player of the Year in Nick Bosa should reclaim that throne for the Bosa family before Week 1. Patience makes sense, as Bosa can let a host of other players sign deals before him, but we wanted to dive into the range of where we think his deal ends up in a few key metrics when all is said and done. 

First, the term could be a battle, as San Francisco will presumably push hard for a five-year structure as it utilized with linebacker Fred Warner, tight end George Kittle and interior defender Arik Armstead. The 49ers could also point to Joey Bosa’s contract that was negotiated by the same agent. On the flip side, wide receiver Deebo Samuel fought hard for a three-year extension last offseason, and we have T.J. Watt as our most recent market-topper with a four-year deal. Watt’s three-year cash flow, which we’ve discussed many times before as a key contract metric, is over $90 million, and Aaron Donald leads the way at $95 million. 

Topping $100 million in three-year cash flow should probably serve as a floor for Bosa. Overall, we think a contract in the ballpark of five years, $167.5 million ($33.5 million per year) could be about where this monster extension ultimately lands. $33.5 million in average annual value would represent an increase of almost 20% compared to Watt but on an extension that runs one year longer and a raise of roughly 6% over Donald

Next, looking at guarantees, Bosa will be working off a fully guaranteed $17.859 million fifth-year option for 2023, and any new years and new money would be in addition to this “old money.” Technically, Bosa & Co. should argue that his old money is $18,909,529.41 because of a stipulation in the 2021 CBA that provided additional funds to account for the 17th regular season game. Nevertheless, his fully guaranteed amount on our hypothetical five-year deal should be in the neighborhood of $95-$100 million, with the total guarantee in the neighborhood of $125-$130 million. 

To look at the guarantees another way, Jason Fitzgerald at Over the Cap decided to recently list new fully guaranteed money and new total guaranteed money because initial contract reporting folds in old money — oftentimes large fifth-year option amounts or ballooned salaries on veteran deals — and doesn’t paint the best picture. What’s most relevant here, given every team structures their guarantees differently — in terms of when injury guarantees vest to fully guaranteed, among other details — is the percentage of the total contract that falls into the new total guarantee category. 

Four of the five deals in the table above had between 61.9% and 64.9% of the total new money value in total guarantees, with Mack’s percentage lower because of the six-year term of his extension. For Bosa’s five-year, $167.5 million extension, this would come out to around $105-$110 million in new total guarantees, meaning this would be in addition to the 2023 fifth-year option. 

Odds are we’ll have to wait a few more months before pen hits paper, but the edge defender market should heat up fairly quickly after the NFL returns from their one time of the year where they can get out of the office a bit before training camp. 


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