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Sunday, February 16, 2020

5 NFL players earning themselves a big 2020 contract

Amari Cooper

Every season there are some players who step up and outplay their current contract. There are also players who have big years just as they’re about to hit free agency, setting themselves up for big pay day. This season we have several players who fit in either category.

Here’s a look at five players who are now primed for a big contract in 2020 thanks to how well they’ve played this season.

5. Markus Golden, LB, New York Giants

There’s not much going well for the Giants on the defensive side of the ball, but that is no fault of edge rusher Markus Golden. Two years removed from a torn ACL, and back under defensive coordinator James Bettcher, Golden is experiencing a bit of a career resurgence — something he banked on when signing a one-year deal with Big Blue this past offseason. Through 10 games, Golden leads the Giants with 6.5 sacks and seems to be a relatively consistent force when on the field. He’s on pace to eclipse 10 sacks for the first time since his remarkable 2016 campaign. He will undoubtedly be considered among the best available pass rushers in free agency next year.

4. Shaq Barrett, LB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

After four underwhelming seasons in Denver, Barrett signed a one-year deal with the Buccaneers this past offseason and like Golden, has seen an impressive career resurgence. He’s managed to not only find a niche, but to also excel under Bruce Arians and Todd Bowles in Tampa Bay, recording 11.5 sacks and one interceptions through 10 games this season. And while he has slowed down slightly after a torrid start (nine sacks in his first four games), there will be plenty of teams willing to shell out some big-time dough for him come 2020.

3. Amari Cooper, WR, Dallas Cowboys

Cooper seems like he should remain in Dallas where his career has completely taken off, but there’s been little progress on contract talks between the two sides, so the wide receiver now prefers to wait on negotiations until after the season. That will allow for a potential bidding war, assuming he’s not designated the team’s franchise player. As much as he may want to remain with the Cowboys, big money elsewhere could alter his thinking. In 10 games this season, Cooper has 56 receptions for 886 yards and seven touchdowns, which are numbers that extrapolate to career highs across the board over the course of 16 games.

2. Kyle Van Noy, LB, New England Patriots

Is Van Noy a young star in the making or is he just another product of a Patriots system that manages to milk the very best out of every player who comes along? It really doesn’t matter, because Van Noy has been a star on one of the most dominant defenses in decades, and every GM across the league is just waiting for the opportunity to open their checkbook. In nine games this season, Van Noy has recorded 32 tackles, 5.5 sacks and forced three fumbles. He’s played well against the run and in coverage, and his 85.7 PFF rating is among the best at his position in all of football. Some may view Van Noy as a “no name” on New England defense, but I assure you talent evaluators don’t look at him the same way.

1. Teddy Bridgewater, QB, New Orleans Saints

When Bridgewater signed a one-year deal to return to the Saints this past offseason, some were surprised. After all, Bridgewater, years removed from a gruesome leg injury, was looking for an opportunity to prove to NFL executives he could still perform at a high level. Getting an opportunity to prove that seemed unlikely behind Drew Brees, but that all changed when Brees suffered a thumb injury in Week 2. Bridgewater, a former NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year contender, took advantage of the opportunity, completing 67.7 percent of his passes for 1,370 yards, nine touchdowns and just two interceptions over seven games (5-1 as a starter). Whether or not he sees the field again this season, someone will probably pay Bridgewater big money in 2020.



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