With most NFL teams now in their offseason program, many are looking towards how to improve themselves for the 2014 season.
The Kansas City Chiefs will be trying to figure out how to move forward with quarterback Alex Smith. Smith has only one year remaining on his current deal at a $7.5 million cap hit next season. After that, Smith would be an unrestricted free agent at 30 years old, looking for a major deal in the prime of his career.
The Chiefs surrendered two second-round draft picks to the San Francisco 49ers to acquire Smith. Considering that investment and reports that the organization wants to sign Smith long-term, it would seem the two sides will work out a deal. The real question in this case is how much it will cost the Chiefs, who presumably also have to give out extensions to All-Pro safety Eric Berry and outside linebacker Justin Houston.
No position is more expensive in the NFL than quarterback. On base salary, Smith is already the seventh-highest paid player at his position. Despite only throwing for 3,313 yards (17th in the NFL) and 6.52 yards per attempt (29th) this season, Smith is very valuable because of his mobility. He had 431 rushing yards this season, the fifth-most of any quarterback.
Smith's biggest asset is his ball security. Smith threw just seven interceptions this season, the fewest of any quarterback who played at least 10 games. He can also air it out when needed, as proven by his spectacular 378 yards with four touchdowns against the Indianapolis Colts last weekend.
Considering what other top quarterbacks are being paid, expect Smith to receive a six-year deal worth roughly $90 million with about $35 million guaranteed. Of current contracts, Aaron Rodgers receives the most on an average annual basis at $22 million per season. Ranking 10th in that category is Philip Rivers, who is making $15.3 million.
As for guaranteed money, Peyton Manning tops the charts with $58 million, while Ben Roethlisberger comes in 10th at $33.2 million. Signing Smith won't come cheap, but that is the price to pay for good quarterbacking.
Other extensions to keep a lookout for
Ndamukong Suh - Despite his reputation as a dirty player, Suh remains one of the most dominant defensive linemen in the league, having been voted as a First Team All-Pro this season. The Lions have a lot of guaranteed money locked up in Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson, but they will find a way to get a deal done with Suh.
Gerald McCoy - Speaking of First Team All-Pro defensive tackles, the man drafted one spot behind Suh in the 2010 NFL Draft will also be looking for some considerable guarantees. Suh and McCoy already rank third and fourth respectively at their positions in guaranteed money thanks, to being drafted before the slot system ($23.3 and $20.8 million, respectively).
Earl Thomas - The Seahawks have benefited in recent years by having young and cheap talent. That won't be the case for much longer, with Thomas becoming a free agent after next season. There is a good chance the former Texas star will become the highest paid safety in NFL history along with the aforementioned Berry.
Richard Sherman - While we are on Seattle, let's get to Sherman. Next season, Sherman will be paid a base of $690,606. Think that might go up a little? Sherman will, barring injury, become the highest-paid cornerback of all time. Brandon Carr leads the league among corners with $25 million guaranteed. Sherman will likely hit $30 million.
Von Miller - The Broncos have a tricky situation on their hands. Miller is a supreme talent, but his problems off the field are well-documented. On top of that, Miller tore his ACL in December. Will Denver really shell out top dollar for Miller, or will he have to prove himself? The risk is always that he walks in free agency.
Patrick Peterson - Peterson is easily the best player on a young up-and-coming Cardinals defense. He will likely be one of the highest paid corners in the NFL. Peterson will be coming off a deal that gave him $18.4 million in guarantees, and will likely be headed toward the $25-30 million range.
Terrell Suggs - At 31 years old, Suggs remains one of the best outside linebackers in the game. He has one more payday waiting for him, and it should be quite large. Suggs had 10 sacks last year to add to his case for Canton. Suggs could very well end up pulling down $20-25 million in guaranteed green.