Patrick Mahomes is expected to become the NFL’s highest-paid player — perhaps by a significant margin — at some point between now and the start of the 2021 season. The Chiefs’ eventual negotiations may change because of the player picked two spots after him in the 2017 draft. The Texans have begun talks with Deshaun Watson, and Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle threw out a monster price range for the franchise’s cornerstone player. A Watson extension could range from $40-$42MM per year, Wilson writes. While it is not certain where Houston stands in talks with its fourth-year quarterback, Laremy Tunsil was able to move the tackle market from $18MM per year to $22MM AAV. Watson surpassing $40MM annually would be a bigger jump for QB salaries.
Watson, 24, seems a lock to surpass Russell Wilson‘s $35MM-per-year value. But with the quarterback market moving north gradually in this era — albeit with greater acceleration in the past two-plus years — Watson’s extension raising the NFL salary ceiling to this degree would represent a staggering markup that would affect other teams’ negotiations. Such a player-friendly agreement would also come at an uncertain time. With it not certain fans will be in stadiums, the 2021 salary cap could go down instead of making the once-expected $10MM-plus climb.
Shifting first to some staff updates, here is the latest from the AFC South:
- Titans team president Steve Underwood is stepping down, according to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle. After 40 years with the organization, which included the move from Houston in the mid-’90s, he’ll remain on board as a special advisor to owner Amy Adams Strunk. Underwood began his tenure as a legal counsel to Houston Oilers founder Bud Adams and played a key role in the franchise’s relocation to Nashville. Underwood retired previously, stepping away from the team in 2011, but returned in 2015.
- Once NFL teams return to their respective facilities, the atmosphere will be different because of COVID-19. On that note, the Texans are hiring a hygiene coordinator. It is not certain who will fill this newly created position, but Wilson notes he or she will be in charge with overseeing the conditions of the team’s practice facility and play a key role in coordinating the cleanliness of NRG Stadium.
- The Colts had a specific type of wide receiver in mind when they selected Michael Pittman Jr. out of USC with the 34th overall pick, and Frank Reich targeted the USC wideout well in advance of the draft. “We wanted a big body, a guy who is physically tough,” Reich said in a Colts.com video. “A big body who would do the dirty work and block, make contested catches, get 50-50 balls. (Pittman) showed that on tape. From the first time I watched him, I loved him.” Pittman is 6-foot-4 and 223 pounds. He is expected to start opposite the 5-10 T.Y. Hilton. Reich compared Pittman to former Philip Rivers Chargers target Vincent Jackson, who was 6-5.