Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald is the most dominant defensive player in the NFL and his reworked contract put an exclamation point on the dollar signs that extend for at least a couple more years.
His big time pay day also opens up negotiations for other great defensive linemen, and even though they may not on the ‘Donald Tier’ for pay scale, they both mean a great deal to their individual defenses.
For me, the next players in line are 49ers pass rusher Nick Bosa and Titans defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons.
One could come close to the $30 million per year average, and the other can argue his play is only going to become more dominant, but both player camps were smart to wait on the Donald extension to work out so a new financial floor could be established for their own extension plans.
Bosa was always going to have a ton of leverage after this upcoming season, which will be the fourth year of his rookie contract. He’s coming off of a 2021 season where he posted 19.5 sacks throughout the regular season and playoff run, and he was was solid against the run and routinely altered the opposing offensive play design predicated on which side he lined up to rush the passer. He did that coming off of a 2020 season that ended quickly due to his ACL injury. He’s one of the best players in the NFL, and with TJ Watt already cashing in with Pittsburgh, and given the Donald extension, Bosa is in a fantastic spot right now. We’ve spent a lot of time this offseason debating Deebo Samuel’s value to San Francisco, but it’s Bosa who is about to break the bank.
As for Simmons, he’s a premiere player in Mike Vrabel and Shane Bowen’s defensive scheme. He’s a disruptive game wrecker who became the most consistent player on the Titans roster last season, doing much more than just helping players around him get to the quarterback. Simmons has two seasons remaining on his rookie contract, starting with a base salary this year of $2.2 million, followed by the 5th year option of $10.7 million in 2023. Those numbers are a bargain for the Titans, but they won’t stay at that salary for very long. He’s arguably the best interior defensive lineman in the NFL not named Aaron Donald, and he’s coming off of a year where he posted 8.5 sacks, 12 tackles for loss and 14 quarterback hits. This is a Titans team built on their front four and given the investments already made in Bud Dupree and Harold Landry, Simmons is a player to watch for a contract extension, a move the Titans have routinely worked out for other players just as training camp gets going in July. He’s not Donald, but if Simmons repeats or improves on his 2021 numbers he would warrant a $25 million average on a new contract. He’s an imperative piece to their defensive success and I still believe he’s ascending, not plateauing.
Bosa could be the next player to be called the highest paid non-quarterback if he waits a year. Outside of Donald, Simmons can reset the market for interior defensive lineman.
Both know what Donald was paid Monday, and now there’s no other player to wait on in order to extend their current contract.
Also keep in mind the majority of the league’s new $100 billion dollar media contracts begin to kick in by 2023. That’s more revenue for NFL owners, which will send the salary cap soaring over the course of the expected extensions for both players. It’s more good news for players who have continued to meet and exceed expectations — like Nick Bosa and Jeffery Simmons.