Alabama alumni sign new contracts in NFL free agency


CW / Hannah Saad

James Ogletree | @jameslogletree, Sports Editor

With the first wave of NFL free agency in the books, The Crimson White took a look at some of the contracts signed this month and over the past year by Alabama alumni. Contract figures were obtained courtesy of Spotrac.

Wide receiver Amari Cooper turned down a five-year, $110 million offer from the Washington Redskins that would have made him the highest-paid receiver in NFL history. The deal would have matched fellow Alabama alum Julio Jones’ $22 million average annual value (AAV) from the Atlanta Falcons last September. 

Cooper instead elected to sign a five-year, $100 million offer to remain with the Dallas Cowboys, settling for signing the first-ever nine-figure deal for a wide receiver and becoming the second-highest-paid receiver ever in terms of AAV. 

After leading the NFL in rushing yards during both the 2019 regular season and postseason, running back Derrick Henry was franchise tagged by the Tennessee Titans. The franchise tag is a one-year deal with a predetermined salary; for running backs in 2020, it’s $10.28 million, which gives Henry the fourth-highest salary in the league for 2020. 

Just below him at seventh on the list is Kenyan Drake, who was transition tagged by the Arizona Cardinals. A transition tag, like the franchise tag, is a one-year deal with a predetermined salary, but its value is slightly less. Drake’s transition tag earns him $8.48 million. According to Spotrac, Drake made $4.64 million over his first four years in the league. 

Three of the top 12 highest-earnings running backs in 2020 are Alabama alumni: Henry, Drake and Mark Ingram. Ingram also has the 11th-highest AAV of any running back at $5 million.

Safety Eddie Jackson’s contract extension in January might have gotten lost in the shuffle between Alabama’s season-ending Citrus Bowl win and Tua Tagovailoa’s draft announcement. The fourth-year safety is now the highest-paid safety in NFL history, but that won’t take effect until 2021.

His four-year extension with the Chicago Bears, which is worth a total of $58.4 million, quadrupled his 2020 salary. He’ll still make less than $4 million this year, but his earnings from the team’s salary cap jump up to $11.45 million in 2021. He is currently one of only three safeties who are under contract through the 2024 season. The Washington Redskins’ Landon Collins, who played at Alabama from 2012-2014, is another.

In less lucrative contract news, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix continued to volley between some of the league’s most historic franchises, signing with the Cowboys after previous stints with the Redskins, Bears and Green Bay Packers. He signed a one-year, $4 million deal.

Quarterback A.J. McCarron, the backup for the Houston Texans, also signed a one-year, $4 million deal to stay in Houston.

Fan-favorite Tony Brown was waived by the Green Bay Packers in December, but the Cincinnati Bengals claimed him off waivers and extended his contract on March 12. The third-year defensive back signed the one-year, $750,000 offer.

After winning a Super Bowl ring with the Kansas City Chiefs in February, linebacker Reggie Ragland went unsigned until Friday, when he signed a one-year deal with the Detroit Lions.