Inside linebacker is viewed as one of the lesser positions in the NFL. Teams would simply rather pay quarterbacks, corners, wideouts, offensive tackles, and a few other positions first before investing in off-ball linebackers. Despite this, teams are still willing to pay the elite, difference-making linebackers such as Darius Leonard and Fred Warner, each of whom received contracts with total values over $95,000,000. Jordyn Brooks is not in that territory of linebacker yet as he does not have the track record, nor does he have their pass coverage acumen, however there is certainly a case to be made that he is only a tier or two below them.
With the 2022 season being his third year as an NFL player, he will be eligible for an extension come the start of the new league year in 2023. If Brooks is able to replicate his 2021 season this year, it makes a lot of sense for Seattle to try and lock him up before his price gets out of hand.
Contract #1- Foyesade Oluokun - Jacksonville Jaguars
Details- 3 years - $45,000,000 - Guarantees - $28,000,000 - Age at signing - 27 years old
Foyesade Oluokun’s large contract is partly a result of the free agent spending spree that the Jaguars go on seemingly every other off-season, but it is also in part because he earned it coming off of what was an All-Pro caliber season. Last season the former Falcon totaled 192 tackles, which led the NFL, registered 4 tackles for a loss and picked up two sacks along the way. He is a bit shaky in coverage — in three of his four seasons he has allowed a competition percentage at or above 81%, allowing 418 yards or more in two of those three seasons. In Oluokun’s last two seasons he allowed passer ratings of 87.8 and 89.9 which is lower than Jordyn Brooks career numbers of 95.2 and 118.1 through two seasons. Brooks is coming off of a season in which he allowed a completion percentage of 80.2% and he paired that with 77 catches allowed and 865 total receiving yards against. Due to zone coverage depth and consistent crossing routes, pass defense numbers are always going to be a bit skewed for linebackers, however those two numbers do carry some concern with them.
Despite the disparities between the two in yards, passer rating and catches allowed there are some similarities. Both contracts would run through each players respective primes, as a three-year contract for Brooks would take him through his age 30 season, whilst Oluokun’s deal takes him through his age 29 season. Additionally, both played behind higher profile linebackers in their career; Brooks behind Bobby Wagner and Oluokun behind Deion Jones up until last year. It is likely that Seattle would have to pay Brooks a bit more of a premium up front in terms of guarantees to get him to take a short-term deal, although it could be worth it for the team as they would have his cap hits figured out for the next five years.
Projected contract extension - 3 years - $50,000,000 - Guarantees - $31,000,000
This contract is a little richer than Oluokin’s deal despite his deal coming from Jacksonville during free agency which almost always results in an inflated contract. Even with that in mind Seattle will likely have to come in at a higher number due to the fact that if Brooks replicates last season production in 2022 and improves in the passing game, he will likely become an All-Pro player which will all but guarantee his price surpassing Oluokin’s.
Contract #2- Deion Jones - Atlanta Falcons
Details- 4 years - $57,000,000 - Guarantees - $18,800,000 - Age at signing - 25 years old
Like Jones, Brooks would be signing his extension in his age 25 season. Unlike Jones though, Brooks would be carrying one more year of team control than Jones as his contract would equal that of a six-year deal, whereas Jones was a five-year deal when factoring in their current contracts at the time of signing. When Jones agreed to his deal with the Falcons, he was coming off of a season in which he totaled 53 tackles over an injury-shortened six games. The former Pro Bowler showed enough in his previous seasons to get one of the largest contracts ever for an inside linebacker. At the time of signing his contract his career high in tackles was 138 and tackles for a loss was 10, both of which came during his 2017 season. Unlike Brooks, Jones is a bit sturdier in defending the pass as in his six games prior to his extension he allowed a completion percentage of 72.4% paired with a passer rating against of 75.9. From a tackles standpoint Jones has not posted the same numbers as Brooks, but he was still one of the better run defending linebackers in the league at the time of his extension.
Projected contract extension - 4 years - $60,000,000 - $36,000,000 guaranteed
This contract is the one that makes the most sense for both Seattle and Brooks. A $15,000,000 average annual value (AAV) would give Brooks a deal that would tie him for the fourth-highest mark amongst inside linebackers with Oluokun. His guaranteed total of $36,000,000 gives him the second highest mark among inside backers. When evaluating this deal from Seattle’s side, they sign Brooks to this contract as it removes the possibility of his price increasing if he was to post upper echelon numbers in his fourth and fifth seasons. It also gives the team a bit more security god forbid anything was to happen to Brooks, as he would only be under team control for six years, rather than seven if he was to sign a five-year extension.
Contract #3- C.J. Mosley - New York Jets
Details- 5 years - $85,000,000 - Guarantees - $43,000,000 - Age at signing - 27 years old
Like Oluokun, this number is inflated a bit due to this being a free agent signing and not an extension, however like the two contracts prior there is a baseline that is provided for a deal for Brooks. Despite Brooks signing a five-year contract at the age of 25 like Mosley, it would run him through his age 32 season due to Seattle having a year left on his rookie deal and the fifth-year option. At the time of signing Mosley had not posted similar tackle numbers to Brooks, as his career high at the time was 133 tackles in his rookie year. Additionally, he was coming off of a season in which he selected to his third consecutive second-team All-Pro season and fourth second-team All-Pro selection in five seasons.
In terms of pass coverage, Mosley was coming off a season in which he allowed a passer rating against of 88.8 whilst allowing a completion percentage of 62.7% and 348 total yards. As a result of both his awards achievements and the stats he accumulated he received what was at the time the largest contract ever received by an interior linebacker. That mark has since been surpassed by Fred Warner and Darius Leonard. Brooks will not receive the accolade of highest paid inside linebacker if he was to sign a five-year contract, however it will certainly be in the same ballpark as Mosley’s if he is to build on his success in this upcoming season.
Projected contract extension - 5 years - $80,000,000 - Guarantees - $45,000,000
This contract makes a lot of sense for Brooks as it gives him the long-term security that so many NFL players seek. His AAV of $16,000,000 would give him the fourth highest number amongst inside linebackers and his guaranteed number of $45,000,000 would give him the highest total amongst all ILB’s. Seattle does this contract so they have Brooks under control for 7 years but also so they can spread his cap hit out a bit more evenly compared to what we see in shorter team deals.