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  • These five franchises should prepare to open up their checkbooks sooner than later.
By Conor Orr
May 28, 2019

In this typically-sleepy time for NFL news, ESPN saints writer Mike Triplett had a good piece this weekend on the looming checks the Saints will have to write for Michael Thomas and Cam Jordan (I’d personally throw Sheldon Rankins in there, assuming he has a chance to return to form this year, and Alvin Kamara, who, if he’s smart, should start sniffing around the possibility of a new deal given his value to that offense).

That’s a lot of star power on bargain salaries, but are they the team with the most money coming due? Here’s my crack at the top five, as we all stumble back into everyday life following a weekend of potato salad, sunburns and bad air guitar.

1. Dallas Cowboys: It’s close, but at the current price for a high-end starting quarterback (Dak Prescott), versatile running back (Ezekiel Elliott) and No. 1 wide receiver (Amari Cooper), Dallas is truly enjoying the last of their financial halcyon days. That’s not to mention the likes of La’el Collins and Jaylon Smith, who will also be hitting the market soon. This is the make-or-break time for Jerry Jones’s team.

2. New Orleans Saints: As Triplett outlines in his piece, after Thomas and Jordan, it’s Drew Brees, Teddy Bridgewater and Andrus Peat. Then, in the not so distant future after that, it’s Marshon Lattimore and Terron Armstead. This team isn’t going to be easy to keep together.

3. Atlanta Falcons: Over the Cap’s team with the least amount of effective cap space (-$888,857), the Falcons are franchising Grady Jarrett in 2019 and still have to figure out what they’ll do long term with Julio Jones. While some of their more important young players are already extended and there are some obvious post-2019 cuts to save cash, this is a top-heavy roster that, since the Super Bowl, has been flirting with a maintain-or-rebuild mentality.

4. Kansas City Chiefs: Patrick Mahomes’s rookie contract doesn’t expire until after next season, and maybe we’re putting a little too much pressure on the young star here. However, wildly conservative estimates (in my opinion) have him earning $35 million per year on his first post-rookie mega deal. If he continues on something even close to this trajectory, Mahomes is going to command more than that. And $40 million per season is an awful lot to budget for. Oh, and Chris Jones is very good too—and he seems to know it.

5. Eagles/Jaguars: Both of these teams have either been able to build their roster thanks to a team-friendly rookie quarterback deal, or have recently seen the downside of what happens when that quarterback doesn’t pan out. Philadelphia’s brilliant run in free agency, trades and the draft will come to head with the looming decision on Carson Wentz’s rookie deal after this season (it expires after 2020). Meanwhile, the Jaguars are doing all they can to keep a star-studded supporting cast alive long enough for Nick Foles to take them to the playoffs. Sooner or later, Jalen Ramsey is going to want (and deserve) an awful lot of money.

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