Timing is everything, especially in the NFL. A player may have an exceptional rookie season, but that season will earn him no money on the open market if he disappears over the next three.

In the NFL, as is the case in most other professional team sports, the most important year of a player's career is the contract year. It is not atypical for a talented football player to experience multiple contract years in his pro career, but the biggest contract year is usually the one coming at the end of a rookie contract (fourth or fifth NFL season). These players are in their mid-20s, and many are considered to be in the physical prime of their respective careers. 

You will see those types of players littering the list below, but you will also see more than that. You will see plenty of players attempting comebacks, some of them on one-year, prove-it deals. This list will feature already-rising stars, some of whom are setting the stage for a life-changing offseason in 2019. It will also feature some names that may be unfamiliar — for now. Because you'll for sure know them after they ball out in a contract year and get PAID.

So, get to know these coming stars a little early. Scroll down to see who's eyeing up a slice of next year's salary-cap pie heading into this season..