If you want it put frankly, the notion of a “contract year” being a major motivating factor for a player has no real statistical backing in the grand scheme of things.

That doesn’t mean it hasn’t led to big years from players in the past; it’s just that the proof is more anecdotal than indisputable by the numbers. It’s impossible to find out which player will be affected, or to generalize and assume a player will be motivated for a big year when he’s in the final year of his contract. Given that information, it’d be foolish to predict a player listed in this article will produce a fantasy explosion just because he wants to get paid. Still, knowing a player might be a little more motivated than usual can help.

Plus, for fantasy players, there’s value in trying to get inside the heads of teams – namely, which situations warrant deeper looks for the future. It’s important to know the contract status of big-name players for keeper and dynasty owners looking to capitalize on the right time to trade a player.

When breaking down a player, consider his contract status way down the list of things that matter, if you even consider it at all.

 

Quarterbacks

Top Unrestricted Free Agent QBs

Matthew Stafford (Det, 29) – Stafford said in the middle of June that he has no timetable for reaching an extension, and Lions GM Bob Quin said a few days later that he’s confident the team will reach terms with their franchise QB. Stafford may have been waiting for Derek Carr to set the market when he signed the richest deal in NFL history on June 22, with his five-year, $125 million deal with $70 million in total guarantees. Stafford is likely to follow right behind Carr and sign a similar deal, and his deal may be even richer.

Kirk Cousins (Was, 28) – Is Cousins to SF in 2018 a given? Maybe, but we'll certainly see some extra motivation out of the Redskins signal-caller this year.Cousins is tentatively set to play the 2017 season on the franchise tag. He has until July 17 to work out a long-term deal with the Redskins before he has to sign his franchise tag. There seems to be a lot more optimism this summer about the two sides reaching a deal, with Cousins meeting tw...