It’s no secret that players typically perform better in contract years. Although the phenomenon isn’t as prominent in the NFL as it is in other sports, it’s still nice to take a look at who has a little added incentive heading into the season. Let’s get to the list.
10. Sydney Rice – WR – Vikings
- 2010 Salary: $550,000
- Age: 23
Rice’s situation is the most unfortunate on the list, as hip surgery will keep him sidelined for the next 8 weeks. This follows a breakout season where he tallied 1,300 yards and 8 touchdowns – and didn’t cash in. Now, the 6′-4 Rice will have to make the most of whatever game action he gets this season to instill some confidence in the organization.
9. Cedric Benson – RB – Bengals
- 2010 Salary: $2,650,000
- Age: 27
Benson revived his career in Cincinnati by rushing for 1,200 yards and scoring 6 touchdowns in only 13 games, including a 169-yard effort in the playoffs. With the lack of options the team has at running back, expect a nice payday for the workhorse.
- 2010 Salary: $5,000,000
- Age: 33
After another solid season, the aging McNabb is proving that there’s still more left in the tank. Now a Redskin, the team is hoping he’ll be the type of QB they’ve lacked and help turn around a team that’s coming off a 4-12 season. Health could be an issue, though, as injuries forced him to miss some time last season and a current ankle injury has his Week 1 status in the air.
7. Joseph Addai – RB – Colts
- 2010 Salary: $2,164,000
- Age: 27
Addai is often tagged as a guy with durability issues who could never be a true feature back. Although this may be true, he’s still a versatile player who fits nicely in Indy’s offense. Some attribute the team’s lack of success running the ball last season to a lack of talent in the backfield, but I feel that’s a false assumption. Pay the man.
6. Vernon Davis – TE – 49ers
- 2010 Salary: $5,705,000
- Age: 26
Davis won’t duplicate last season’s numbers, but he finally proved that he can be the elite tight end the team drafted him to be. It’s reported he’s seeking 5 years and $40 million, similar to what Antonio Gates just received.
5. Randy Moss – WR – Patriots
- 2010 Salary: $6,400,000
- Age: 33
This will likely be Moss’ final big money contract so expect another vintage season from #81. Throughout his career he’s been known to dominate whenever he wants to, and I’d guess 2010 would be one of those times.
- 2010 Salary: $1,001,000
- Age: 24
Surprised to see Bradshaw ahead of Moss? One is entering his prime, and the other is on the downside. The most intriguing guy on the list might also be the most underpaid this season, but it won’t be for long. I think Bradshaw is an absolute stud who will be targeted by a number of teams. The Giants are doing a great thing by naming him the team’s “featured back.”
3. DeAngelo Williams – RB – Panthers
- 2010 Salary: $2,100,000
- Age: 27
The Panthers say they have every intention to bring back Williams and keep their star-studded backfield intact, but you do have to at least wonder about a couple of things: 1) Why hasn’t the team rewarded him after all he’s done for them? 2) Does the fact that Jonathan Stewart is becoming an elite back himself change anything? Time will tell.
2. Tom Brady – QB – Patriots
- 2010 Salary: $6,500,000
- Age: 33
Fun fact: David Garrard is paid the same amount as Tom Brady. Seriously. As you’ll see is the case with #1 on this list, the Collective Bargaining Agreement complicates things a bit, but whenever the time comes for the Pats to reach an agreement with their QB, Robert Kraft had better be more than generous – especially after the year I’m predicting out of Brady.
1. Peyton Manning – QB – Colts
- 2010 Salary: $15,800,000
- Age: 34
Show me the money! Manning will end his career in Indy, but the situation involving his next contract is an interesting one. His current deal expires the same time the Collective Bargaining Agreement does, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Manning strike a deal until after a new CBA is in place. Regardless, Jim Irsay is ready to make Peyton the league’s highest paid player.
*Other Notables: Santonio Holmes, Ricky Williams, Alex Smith