The big moves in the NFL offseason have all but come to an end. There were no record-breaking deals on the defensive side of the ball, however, there are three defensive linemen that will be very well-paid throughout the next three seasons. While they are not paid as well as their offensive counterparts, there are three defensive players that stand out amongst the rest.
Aaron Donald clocks in as the highest-paid player on the defensive side of the ball in terms of average annual salary per year over the next three seasons with $31.6 million. Donald signed this deal with the Los Angeles Rams after the team brought home the Super Bowl in the 2022 season.
While the Rams had an enormous Super Bowl hangover and would go on to be one of the worst teams in the entire league, this mostly came as a result of injuries. Three of the most integral players to their Super Bowl run, Donald, Matthew Stafford, and Cooper Kupp all missed a considerable amount of time last season due to injury. Pairing this with the fact that the team lost Von Miller in free agency, it makes complete sense why Los Angeles was not contending for another Super Bowl in the 2022 season.
Many thought that Donald was going to retire after last season, however, he has shut down the rumors and has made it clear that he is embracing the Rams being painted as underdogs this season.
T.J. Watt is the second highest-paid defensive player in the NFL heading into the season. He signed a deal in September of 2021 that gives him a current APY of $30.5 million. Watt is one of the top edge rushers in the league.
Despite him missing a considerable amount of time last season due to injury, he still was one of the top-performing players in the NFL. While the Pittsburgh Steelers have a ways to go before they are once again contending for a playoff spot, Watt will continue to strike fear in the heart of any opposing quarterback the team plays against.
The third player with the largest contract on defense in terms of APY is Joey Bosa. Bosa signed his deal in July 2020 and currently has an APY of $26.7 million. Since he joined the Los Angeles Chargers, Bosa has been one of the top edge rushers in the league.
Last season Bosa missed a substantial amount of the season due to an injury. This was a common theme for a handful of crucial players for the Chargers. If they are able to remain healthy through the 2023 season, Bosa and Khalil Mack could be one of the most terrifying pass-rushing duos in the league.
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