2022 NFL free agency: Seven players who could get paid more than you think

The NFL's negotiating window for free agents opens Monday, and the post-pandemic rebound of the salary cap to a record $208.2 million is good news for those hitting the market.

Here's a look at a few of the less-heralded pending unrestricted free agents who might end up getting more money than you think:

Mitchell Trubisky
QB · Age: 27

The No. 2 overall pick by Chicago in 2017 took a year to reset as the backup in Buffalo -- and he now figures to have a strong chance to start again in 2022. Whatever the perception might be, Trubisky is a one-time Pro Bowl selection who was 29-21 (!) in parts of four seasons as the starter on a Bears team that lost before he took over and lost again after he left. Statistically in Years 2-4, Trubisky compares favorably to the likes of Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger and Philip Rivers at that point in their careers. He's a good athlete with running ability. He's a leader. With so many lingering QB questions, somebody will bet on Trubisky's upside to at least come in and compete. It wouldn't be a surprise if he commands around $10 million plus incentives on a one-year deal.

Christian Kirk
WR · Age: 25

With the Packers' Davante Adams (franchise tag), the Bucs' Chris Godwin (tag) and the Chargers' Mike Williams (three years, $60 million) off the board, and with Michael Gallup likely to join them soon on a new deal with the Cowboys, other receivers should benefit. In four seasons with the Cardinals, Kirk already has 236 career catches -- including 77 for 982 yards and five touchdowns in 2021 -- despite sharing targets with the likes of DeAndre Hopkins, Larry Fitzgerald and A.J. Green. If Arizona doesn't keep him off the market, it wouldn't be a shock to see Kirk get $15 million or more per year. Valdes-Scantling has averaged just over 30 catches over four seasons in Green Bay's Adams-heavy offense. But "MVS" also has the kind of rare combination of size (6-foot-4, 206 pounds) and speed (he ran a 4.37-second 40-yard dash at the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine) that usually gets paid. His deal could end up well north of $10 million a year. 

Foley Fatukasi
NT · Age: 27
Larry Ogunjobi
NT · Age: 27

Top big men always seem to get bigger deals than expected, and these two should be no exception. Fatukasi (listed at 6-4, 318) became a full-time starter last season and had a career-high 46 tackles (25 solo). Ogunjobi (6-4, 305) signed a one-year deal with the Bengals, had 16 QB hits and emerged as a key piece in Cincinnati's march to Super Bowl LVI. It wouldn't be a surprise if both command upwards of $10 million a year.


Foye Oluokun
LB · Age: 26

A sixth-round pick out of Yale in 2018, Oluokun emerged as a full-time starter in Year 3 and has been highly productive, posting career highs in tackles (192) and interceptions (three) last season. He also wears the green dot as the defensive signal-caller and is a team leader. The Falcons want to keep him, but it'll be pricey -- most likely costing upwards of $10 million a year.

Jakeem Grant
RS · Age: 29

The Bears got a bargain last October, acquiring Grant from the Dolphins for a 2023 sixth-round draft pick. He scored a 97-yard touchdown on a punt return against the Packers on the way to his second consecutive second-team All-Pro nod as a return man. A new deal could yield over $5 million a year, which would make Grant the NFL's highest-paid pure return specialist. 

Follow Tom Pelissero on Twitter.

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