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Setting the market: Previewing the next NFL superstars in line for record-breaking contracts

We’ve seen teams shell out a lot of money in recent days to players who figure to be around or at the top of their game for a long time. Chris Jones, Myles Garrett, Joey Bosa and, of course, Patrick Mahomes all inked deals that made them among the highest-paid players at their positions, if not the highest-paid player by a wide margin. The question becomes: Which stars currently playing on rookie contracts will become the next to push the market at the top of their respective positions? Some of these guys are going to get paid sooner than others, but there should be little doubt that all of them are going to be sitting pretty in a few years. 

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QB: Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans

The comparisons that come with entering the league alongside Mahomes in the 2017 NFL Draft do Watson a disservice. He’s not going to match up with the best quarterback in the NFL — no one is. That’s why Mahomes just signed a contract whose closest comparison is Mike Trout’s

Watson is hands down one of the best young quarterbacks in the game, though. Among all quarterbacks to enter the league since 2006, Watson ranks third in PFF grade through his first three seasons at 84.2 — a mark that trails only Mahomes and Russell Wilson. His ability to make things happen outside of structure and produce with the game on the line, coming in as PFF’s highest-graded quarterback in the fourth quarter and overtime of one-score games this past season, is special. Watson won't get Mahomes-type money, but he is going to be getting a nice raise in the next year or two.

RB: Saquon Barkley, New York Giants

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