2024 NFL Free Agent Contract Predictions: Salary Projections for Top Players

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Carolina Panthers linebacker Brian Burns (0) walks off the field after losing to the Green Bay Packers during an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 24, 2023, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)
(AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)
Chase Kiddy @chaseakiddy Feb 20, 2024, 8:18 AM
  • 2024 NFL Free Agency officially begins on Wednesday, March 13.
  • Best NFL free agents include Brian Burns, Chris Jones, Kirk Cousins, and more.

NFL free agency begins with the start of a negotiating period at 12 p.m. ET on Monday, March 11. Two days later — at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, March 13 — teams can sign unrestricted free agents to a contract.

Here is a list of major free agents for 2024, as well as individual contract projections for Brian Burns, Chris Jones, and other players headlining 2024 NFL free agency:

2024 NFL Free Agents

Player (Age)Most Recent Team (Position)2023 Annualized Salary
Josh Allen (26)Jaguars (OLB)$5.69 Million
Chidobe Awuzie (28)Bengals (CB)$7.25 Million
Jerome Baker (27)Dolphins (OLB)$12.5 Million
Saquon Barkley (27)Giants (RB)$10.09 Million
Odell Beckham Jr. (31)Ravens (WR)$15 Million
Tyler Boyd (29)Bengals (WR)$10.75 Million
Teddy Bridgewater (31)Lions (QB)$3 Million
Jacoby Brissett (31)Commanders (QB)$8 Million
Marquise Brown (26)Cardinals (WR)$2.95 Million
Trent Brown (30)Patriots (RT)$6.5 Million
Brian Burns (25)Panthers (DE)$3.39 Million
Calais Campbell (37)Falcons (DE)$7 Million
Kirk Cousins (35)Vikings (QB)$35 Million
Fletcher Cox (33)Eagles (DT)$10 Million
Kamren Curl (24)Commanders (SS)$852,082
Marcus Davenport (27)Vikings (DE)$13 Million
Kyle Dugger (27)Patriots (SS)$2.08 Million
Gus Edwards (28)Ravens (RB)$4.5 Million
Ezekiel Elliott (28)Patriots (RB)$3 Million
Austin Ekeler (28)Chargers (RB)$6.125 Million
Mike Evans (30)Buccaneers (WR)$16.5 Million
Kendall Fuller (29)Commanders (CB)$10 Million
Mike Gesicki (28)Dolphins (TE)$4.5 Million
Stephon Gilmore (33)Cowboys (CB)$10 Million
Randy Gregory (31)49ers (OLB)$14 Million
Mecole Hardman (25)Chiefs (WR)$4 Million
Derrick Henry (30)Titans (RB)$12.5 Million
Hunter Henry (29)Patriots (TE)$12.5 Million
Tee Higgins (25)Bengals (WR)$2.17 Million
Austin Hooper (29)Raiders (TE)$2.75 Million
Bryce Huff (25)Jets (LB)$4.3 Million
Danielle Hunter (29)Vikings (OLB)$17 Million
Micah Hyde (33)Bills (FS)$9.625 Million
Adoree' Jackson (28)Giants (CB)$13 Million
Josh Jacobs (26)Raiders (RB)$11.79 Million
Jaylon Johnson (24)Bears (CB)$1.62 Million
Chris Jones (29)Chiefs (DT)$19.5 Million
Carl Lawson (28)Jets (DE)$15 Million
Justin Madubuike (26)Ravens (DT)$1.21 Million
Marcus Mariota (30)Eagles (QB)$5 Million
Baker Mayfield (28)Buccaneers (QB)$4 Million
Yannick Ngakoue (28)Bears (DE)$10.5 Million
Jeff Okudah (25)Falcons (CB)$8.38 Million
Michael Pittman Jr. (26)Colts (WR)$2.15 Million
Tony Pollard (26)Cowboys (RB)$10.09 Million
Patrick Queen (24)Ravens (ILB)$3.04 Million
Sheldon Rankins (29)Texans (DT)$9.75 Million
DJ Reader (29)Bengals (DT)$13.25 Million
Calvin Ridley (29)Jaguars (WR)$2.725 Million
Curtis Samuel (27)Commanders (WR)$11.5 Million
Dalton Schultz (27)Texans (TE)$6.25 Million
Donovan Smith (30)Chiefs (LT)$3 Million
Tyron Smith (33)Cowboys (LT)$12.2 Million
Za'Darius Smith (31)Browns (OLB)$11.71 Million
L'Jarius Sneed (27)Chiefs (CB)$982,330
Ryan Tannehill (35)Titans (QB)$29.5 Million
Tyrod Taylor (34)Giants (QB)$5.5 Million
Bobby Wagner (33)Seahawks (ILB)$5.5 Million
Devin White (26)Buccaneers (ILB)$7.33 Million
Christian Wilkins (28)Dolphins (DT)$3.86 Million
Leonard Williams (29)Seahawks (DE)$21 Million
Antoine Winfield Jr. (25)Buccaneers (FS)$1.83 Million
Jameis Winston (30)Saints (QB)$4 Million
Chase Young (24)49ers (DE)$8.64 Million

Brian Burns 

Brian Burns Contract Projection: 4 Years, $100 Million

One of the top free-agent targets of this offseason is Carolina’s Brian Burns, who has posted great pressure numbers despite a total lack of competitive talent anywhere near him. 

Burns can grab a four-year contract like this and still be roughly in his prime when free agency comes around next time. 

Chris Jones

Chris Jones Contract Projection: 3 Years, $90 Million

Chris Jones is approaching age 30, but he’s also in the midst of a Hall of Fame career. That means he’s going to get a big contract that’s both short and backloaded, most likely with a team (like the Chiefs) who feel like they’re in a Super Bowl window. 

I don’t expect him to remain in Kansas City. Keep an eye on Houston, which has a ton of cap room and is losing Sheldon Rankins. 

Josh Allen

Josh Allen Contract Projection: 4 Years, $92 Million

Allen is coming off a season that included 90 quarterback pressures and 19 sacks. He’s one of the top pass rushers on the market this year, and he’s going to get paid like one. 

Kirk Cousins

Kirk Cousins Contract Projection: 2 Years, $65 Million

On the one hand, Cousins is a popular quarterback (thanks, Netflix) who is still proving to naysayers how accurate and reliable he can be. On the other hand, he’s a 35-year-old quarterback who will be rehabbing an Achilles injury throughout most of this offseason.

The market will likely split the difference and pay him like a good quarterback but keep the terms of the deal short. 

Tee Higgins

Tee Higgins Contract Projection: 1 Year, $21.67 Million

With Burrow and Chase serving as the central machine of Cincinnati’s offense, the Bengals can’t also afford to pay Higgins his actual market value. 

That dynamic makes Higgins one of the most obvious franchise tag targets anywhere in the NFL this offseason. The Bengals will almost certainly retain his rights by offering him the tag, which should generate a deal somewhere around $21 million. 

Christian Wilkins

Christian Wilkins Contract Projection: 5 Years, $110 Million

Wilkins set career highs across the board this year for run-stuffing and pressure rates and will see extremely high demand in free agency this year – assuming the Dolphins even let him get there. 

Antoine Winfield Jr.

Antoine Winfield Jr. Contract Projection: 3 Years, $55 Million

Winfield Jr. is an interesting free agent to project because not every team can use him, let alone afford him. He’s a very talented, jack-of-all-trades type of player who probably needs to be injected into the right defensive scheme to maximally succeed. He’s a hybrid player.

That said, teams that can make appropriate use of his multi-dimensional coverage talents can make him a centerpiece of the second and third levels of their defense. 

The most likely candidates are teams like the Commanders or Titans – teams who are rebuilding with new coaches, have a ton of cap room, and don’t have to squeeze Winfield Jr. into an established defense. 

L’Jarius Sneed

L’Jarius Sneed Contract Projection: 3 Years, $51 Million

Sneed is a key back-end piece to Kansas City’s improved defense, and corners get paid in the modern NFL. I’m expecting a mid-length deal that pays Sneed the market rate for a top-flight corner.

Mike Evans

Mike Evans Contract Projection: 2 Years, $60 Million

The only thing more guaranteed than Mike Evans’ nagging injuries is the certainty that he will finish the year as a 1,000-yard receiver. 

If Tampa Bay decides it’s time to let Evans go to market, someone out there will see him for the All-Pro receiver he is. Just don’t expect the length of the contract to go too long. 

Saquon Barkley

Saquon Barkley Projection: 2 Years, $34 Million

Barkley’s contract projection could go absolutely anywhere in the coming weeks, perhaps more than any other player in the league. The Giants probably don’t want to use a franchise tag on him for a second straight year, but they also probably don’t want to pay tens of millions of dollars to a running back in his later 20s.

Barkley, for his part, is probably looking to get as much out of this free agency period as he possibly can. And while he is a very talented running back in a shallow free-agent pool, it’s still hard to imagine an awesome deal for any RB in 2024. 

Since both sides feel hemmed in to some degree, I think the most likely outcome is a compromise that leaves no one feeling satisfied. At least with a two-year deal, Barkley stands a chance at another free-agent payday when he’s 29. 

Tyron Smith

Tyron Smith Projection: 2 Years, $21 Million

Tyron Smith could get more than this on the open market, even as a 33-year-old with some injury history. But if Smith’s contract history is any indication, the 10-year Cowboys cares a lot more about winning a Super Bowl in Dallas than he does about maximum contract value.

Because of that, a new, team-friendly contract in Dallas seems more likely than anything else.

When Does NFL Free Agency Start?

Free-agent negotiating begins at 12 p.m. ET on Monday, March 11.

Teams may negotiate contracts with unrestricted free agents from that time until 3:59 p.m. ET on Wednesday, March 13. Contracts may be executed at 4 p.m. on March 13.

When Does the NFL League Year Start?

The 2024-25 league year starts at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday, March 13. At this time, unrestricted free agents can sign contracts.

When Can NFL Teams Start Trading?

The trading period also opens at 4 p.m. ET on March, at which time all 2023 contracts expire.

What’s the Deadline for NFL Restricted Free Agents To Sign?

All restricted free agents must sign offer sheets by Friday, April 19, 2024.

Five days later — on Wednesday, April 24 — is the deadline for the prior club to exercise their Right of First Refusal to restricted free agents who signed offer sheets.

What’s the NFL Fifth-Year Option Deadline?

The fifth-year option deadline — for players selected in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft — is Thursday, May 2, 2024.

When Is the 2024 NFL Draft?

The 2024 draft is scheduled for April 25-27, 2024, in Detroit.

  • April 25: First Round
  • April 26: Second & Third Rounds
  • April 27: Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Rounds

The Chicago Bears have the first overall pick, acquired via trade with the Carolina Panthers prior to the 2023 draft.

Potential 2025 NFL Free Agents

As of early January 2024, dozens of high-end players are set to hit unrestricted free agency in 2025.

Many of those players, however, are highly likely to sign extensions and/or remain with their team via a fifth-year option, including Jordan Love and Justin Jefferson.

PlayerPos.Team
Charvarius WardCBSan Francisco 49ers
Rasul DouglasCBBuffalo Bills
DeMarcus LawrenceDEDallas Cowboys
Greg RousseauDEBuffalo Bills
Khalil MackDELos Angeles Chargers
Trey HendricksonDECincinnati Bengals
Aaron DonaldDTLos Angeles Rams
Alim McNeilDTDetroit Lions
Christian BarmoreDTNew England Patriots
DeForest BucknerDTIndianapolis Colts
Kenny ClarkDTGreen Bay Packers
Demario DavisILBNew Orleans Saints
Penei SewellOTDetroit Lions
Taylor DeckerOTDetroit Lions
Rashawn SlaterOTLos Angeles Chargers
Derrick BrownOTCarolina Panthers
Dion DawkinsOTBuffalo Bills
Morgan MosesOTBaltimore Ravens
Tristan WirfsOTTampa Bay Buccaneers
David BakhtiariOTGreen Bay Packers
Dak PrescottQBDallas Cowboys
Jared GoffQBDetroit Lions
Jordan LoveQBGreen Bay Packers
Justin FieldsQBChicago Bears
Trevor LawrenceQBJacksonville Jaguars
Tua TagovailoaQBMiami Dolphins
Aaron JonesRBGreen Bay Packers
Joe MixonRBCincinnati Bengals
Nick ChubbRBCleveland Browns
Raheem MostertRBMiami Dolphins
Jevon HollandSMiami Dolphins
Amari CooperWRCleveland Browns
Amon-Ra St. BrownWRDetroit Lions
Brandin CooksWRDallas Cowboys
Brandon AiyukWRSan Francisco 49ers
CeeDee LambWRDallas Cowboys
Chris GodwinWRTampa Bay Buccaneers
Ja'Marr ChaseWRCincinnati Bengals
Justin JeffersonWRMinnesota Vikings
Keenan AllenWRLos Angeles Chargers
Mike WilliamsWRLos Angeles Chargers
Nico CollinsWRHouston Texans

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About the Author

Chase Kiddy

Read More @chaseakiddy

Chase Kiddy is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of The Lion's Edge, an NFL and college football podcast available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and everywhere else. He has also written for a number of print and online outlets, including the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Washington Post, Daily News-Record, and HERO Sports. His first novel, Cave Paintings, is in development.

Chase Kiddy is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of The Lion's Edge, an NFL and college football podcast available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and everywhere else. He has also written for a number of print and online outlets, including the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Washington Post, Daily News-Record, and HERO Sports. His first novel, Cave Paintings, is in development.