The NFL playoffs are here, and elite players on both sides of the ball can secure huge free agent paydays if they show up.
Football in January always makes for great theater, but interwoven into the postseason drama are a few individual stories of players with something to prove. For some, the difference between a great contract and a truly massive one could come down to a few big catches or a game-ending interception.
With that in mind, let’s have a look at five players who could secure serious bags in NFL free agency this offseason.
WR Davante Adams
Green Bay Packers
He’s arguably the best receiver in the game and he’s going to get paid no matter how he does in the playoffs. Still, adding a Super Bowl to his resume will only help his stock.
A five-time Pro Bowl selection, Adams has spent his entire career with the Pack, logging 669 receptions, 8,121 yards, and 73 touchdowns. He’s also the proud new owner of the Packers’ single-season record for receiving yardage.
According to NFL Network Insider Ian Rappoport, Adams is likely to get the franchise tag, which could lock him in for another year in Green Bay for $20 million.
But whether Adams ends up leaving Lambeau is inevitably tied to what QB Aaron Rodgers ends up doing this offseason as well.
- Age: 29
- Expiring Contract: Four years, $58 million
- Notable Stats: It was easily Adams’ best season in the NFL. Not only did he log 1,553 yards and 11 touchdowns, he also broke his own team record for catches in a season with 123.
OLB Von Miller
Los Angeles Rams
Picked up at the trade deadline from the Broncos, Miller took some time to heat up in LA, but has since solidified himself as a dominant edge rusher who will be worthy of attention in the offseason.
In his first four games with the Rams, Miller tallied 13 combined tackles, four tackles for loss, one pass deflection, and zero sacks. However, in the past four games, the veteran linebacker has logged 18 combined tackles, eight tackles for loss, five sacks, and one forced fumble.
Having given up second-and third-round picks for just a half-season rental of Miller, the Rams are likely to try and keep the former No. 2 pick. But they may have to move some money around to do so — especially if Miller parlays his recent hot streak into a few praiseworthy playoff performances.
While it may not be as much money as the previous six-year deal he signed with the Broncos, Miller might be able to find a payday on the open market from a team looking for a veteran edge rusher.
- Age: 33
- Expiring Contract: Six years, $114 million
- Notable Stats: In his 11 seasons in the league (he missed 2020 due to injury) Miller has 508 total tackles, 115.5 sacks, 26 forced fumbles and two interceptions.
CB JC Jackson
New England Patriots
He’s the Pats’ No. 1 cornerback and his play this season has made him one of the most dominant defenders in the game.
While his performance thus far has assured him attention in free agency, some shut-down defense in the playoffs could mean a massive payday.
But it won’t be easy, as Jackson has a tough matchup covering Bills WR1 Stefon Diggs in the Divisional Wild Card.
Regardless of how he fares, a new long-term contract is likely not in the cards with the Pats and Bill Belichick, who are notorious for not handing out big chunks of money to cornerbacks.
With today’s top cornerbacks fetching between $17 and $20 million annually, it seems a foregone conclusion that Jackson will head elsewhere.
- Age: 26
- Expiring Contract: One year, $3.4 million
- Notable Stats:Jackson has made 25 interceptions in four seasons, including eight this year, second-most in the NFL.
OLB Chandler Jones
Jones put up an unthinkable five sacks in Week 1 against the Titans but wasn’t able to maintain that dominance throughout the year, ending up with only 10.5 sacks on the season.
But despite the lack of production and missing two games due to COVID-19, Jones still made an impact, finishing with 38 total tackles, four passes defended, and six forced fumbles. He also made his fourth Pro Bowl.
The veteran linebacker had reportedly been hoping for a contract extension, but nothing came to fruition during the season.
If the Cardinals want to lock him up using the franchise tag as they did in 2016, they’ll need to pony up about $18.5 million for the 2022 season.
With no signs of a deal to keep him in the desert, there are already rumblings that Jones could draw interest from Miami, Denver, and the Los Angeles Chargers.
- Age: 32
- Expiring Contract: Five Years, $82.5 million
- Notable Stats: Between 2016-2019, Jones tallied 60 sacks at an average of 15 per season. No one in the league had more sacks than Jones during that stretch.
WR Odell Beckham Jr.
Los Angeles Rams
After being released by the Browns in November, OBJ signed a one-year deal with the Rams and has since shown he’s worthy of a roster spot.
In eight games with his new team, Beckham put up 27 receptions for 305 yards and five touchdowns, helping the Rams reach the playoffs in a tough NFC West division.
Beckham, who is undoubtedly looking for a longer-term contract after this season, may not fit into the Rams’ equation — especially given their depth at wide receiver.
Having already tested the free-agent waters earlier this season, it’s clear OBJ will have some suitors this offseason — especially if he helps the Rams go deep into the playoffs. While it’s still too early to tell, there are murmurs that the star wideout could land in places like New Orleans, New England, or even Kansas City.
- Age: 29
- Expiring Contract: One year, $1.25 million
- Notable Stats: Beckham hooked up with QB Matthew Stafford for a game-winning touchdown in Week 17 to help the Rams clinch the NFC West division.