Surface nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) is a geophysical technique providing noninvasive insight into aquifer properties. To ensure that reliable water content estimates are produced, accurate modeling of the excitation process is necessary. This requires that relaxation during pulse (RDP) effects be accounted for because they may lead to biased water content estimates if neglected. In surface NMR, RDP is not directly included into the excitation modeling, rather it is accounted for by adjusting the time at which the initial amplitude of the signal is calculated. Previous work has demonstrated that estimating the initial amplitude of the signal as the value obtained by extrapolating the observed signal to the middle of the pulse can greatly improve performance for the on-resonance pulse. To better understand the reliability of these types of approaches (which do not directly include RDP in the modeling), the performance of these approaches is tested using numerical simulations for a broad range of conditions, including for multiple excitation pulse types. Hardware advances that now allow the routine measurement of much faster relaxation times (where these types of approaches may lead to poor water content estimates) and a recent desire to use alternative transmit schemes demand a flexible protocol to account for RDP effects in the presence of fast relaxation times for arbitrary excitation pulses. To facilitate such a protocol, an approach involving direct modeling of RDP effects using estimates of the subsurface relaxation times is presented to provide more robust and accurate water content estimates under conditions representative of surface NMR.