Nick Bosa: Predicting how much it costs 49ers to extend star pass-rusher

Nick Bosa #97 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Nick Bosa #97 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Nick Bosa continues to dominate from the edge for the 49ers. As he approaches the final year of his contract, what should the Niners prepare to pay him?

Nick Bosa has been one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL since he stepped onto the field for the San Francisco 49ers in 2019.

Despite continued double teams and chip blocks, Bosa continues to produce for the Niners. Through Week 10 of the 2022 NFL Season, Bosa is tied for the second most sacks in the NFL with 9.5, and some quick math shows that if averaged out of over 16 games, as Bosa already missed one this season with a groin injury, that puts him on pace for 19 sacks this season.

Nineteen sacks would put Bosa behind the Pittsburgh Steelers’ T.J. Watt’s record-setting 2021 pace of 22.5 sacks but would have made him the sack leader in 2020. Bosa is producing at a level only a few NFL pass-rushers achieve.

To a 49ers team that wants to win at the line of scrimmage, that makes him an incredibly valuable asset.

In addition to being one of the best at his position, and one of the Niners’ most important players, Bosa is also nearing the final year of his contract. Technically, Bosa is under contract through the end of the 2023 season due to his fifth-year option, but typically, NFL teams extend rookies as they head into the final year of their rookie deals.

That’s exactly what this 49ers regime has done, most recently with Deebo Samuel’s new contract in the offseason, but also with other young stars like Fred Warner and George Kittle. There’s no reason not to expect the Niners to make every attempt to extend Bosa next offseason. General Manager John Lynch has said as much, also acknowledging that when the time comes for Bosa’s extension, “he’ll get what he deserves.”

So, with every expectation Bosa will sign an extension next offseason, what does he deserve? And what will he get?

Predicting how much it costs 49ers to extend Nick Bosa

NFL contracts for elite players follow a pattern. A star player gets paid, and when he gets paid, he gets paid more than the last star player to get paid. This makes sense, the NFL salary cap typically grows every year, so the next star up for his contract gets to take advantage of those increases and sign a larger deal. This is especially true of premium positions such as quarterback and edge rusher.

People may forget, but this system once led to Jimmy Garoppolo being the NFL’s highest-paid quarterback. If the 49ers were once willing to make Garoppolo the highest-paid quarterback, how much more willing will they be to pay a player who is actually the best at his position?

More recently, the Niners made Kittle and Warner the highest-paid players at their positions as well, at least at the time they signed their deals.

A quick look at the most recent contracts for star pash-rushers can lend some context to what to expect for Bosa. The two most recent mega deals for pass-rushers went to a different Bosa, Nick’s brother Joey of the Los Angeles Chargers, and Watt.

Joey Bosa signed a five-year deal averaging $27 million in 2020, and Watt signed a four-year deal averaging $28,002,750 in 2021. Additionally, Joey pulled in $78 million guaranteed at signing, while Watt pulled in $80 million.

NFL contracts sometimes read like hieroglyphics with all of the different numbers, guarantees and bonuses, but that average annual value number, along with the amount guaranteed at signing, are two of the most interesting.

Before signing his extension in 2020, Joey Bosa’s personal best for sacks in a season was 12.5, and Watt’s was 14.5 before his extension.

Nick Bosa already has a 15.5-sack season, and as noted earlier, is on pace for 19 this year. Clearly, the younger Bosa is at the same level, if not higher, than the last two pass-rushers to get record-breaking contracts.

With that in mind, it seems clear Bosa will get a bigger deal than Watt and his brother.

Additionally, Bosa may be willing to hold out, just as his brother, Joey, did to get that contract, and the 49ers likely aren’t eager to have another offseason stand-off with one of their stars, as they did with Samuel last season.

While nothing is finalized, a conservative estimate for the 2023 season’s salary cap comes in at around $225 million. That is roughly an eight-percent increase from 2022’s number, so applying that to Watt’s contract gives us around $30 million, annually.

That number seems reasonable. NFL players care about that annual number. Another 49ers star, offensive tackle Trent Williams, went viral in 2021 after carefully negotiating his contract to just beat out Green Bay Packers tackle David Bakhtiari to be the highest-paid player at the position, annually.

$30 million a year is likely a milestone Bosa has his eyes on, and given he will likely have every egg in his basket as Lynch has publicly said the Niners will give Bosa “what he deserves” it seems like a good number.

With that in mind, a five-year, $150 million deal, seems like a reasonable expectation. The money will be spread out in bonuses, guarantees, etc., by Niners’ cap wizard Paraag Marathe, but look for something in the $30 million annually range to keep Bosa a 49er, along with north of $80 milion guaranteed.

Sometime around next July, with whispers of a “hold in” coming from Bosa, the Niners will sign him to a five-year $150 million deal with $84 million guaranteed.

If history proves true, Bosa will be worth every penny.

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