The NFL Free Agency period, despite Coronavirus concerns, is in full swing. Miami locals are excited to see their NFL franchise, The Miami Dolphins, make some major signings. Up north, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have captured the biggest prize in Tom Brady. Jameis Winston got corrective eye surgery to see his way out of Tampa. Lol.
But it is a signing from the mentioned local club, the Miami Dolphins, of current ProCane Ereck Flowers to a $30 million dollar contract, that gave me pause:
What are the top contracts signed by ProCanes in NFL History?
Unsurprisingly, in my search for dollars and dotted lines, many signings popped up for University of Miami Alumni:
Greg Olsen $17 million over Two years this year
Denzel Perryman $12 million over Two years this year
Lamar Miller $26 Million for Four years in 2016
Frank Gore $21 Million for Three years in 2011
The coolest nugget I discovered is that every year from 2002 through 2018, and returning this year, a Miami Hurricane alumni received a new contract or contract extension of at least $20 million in value, jump started by Vinny Testevarde’s $32 Million dollar contract with the New York Jets. That’s SEVENTEEN STRAIGHT YEARS of big time money for Miami Hurricanes every single Free Agency period. So what are the top five contracts in Miami NFL ProCane history?
I am fortunate that there are five contracts worth $50 million or more to document, because, MAN, there are a metric ton of contracts in Canes history that totaled $40 million or more. A brief rundown of more notable players:
Ed Reed - $40 Million in 2006
Bryant McKinnie - $48 Million in 2006
Sean Taylor - $40 Million in 2007
Jimmy Graham - $40 Million in 2014 (And $30 in 2018, Ballin’)
Allen Hurns $40 Million in 2016 (the only undrafted player here)
Vernon Carey $40 Million in 2009
Vince Wilfork $40 Million in 2009
As I mentioned, there were TONS of big contracts that eventually got edged out of the top five list that begins below. This gives you an idea of how the brand has persevered through on field turmoil: We Produce NFL Royalty.
5) Clinton Portis - $50 Million over Eight Years
Clinton Portis was a one year starter at the U as part of five year stretch that also produced Frank Gore, Edgerrin James and Willis McGahee. That quartet of players would each sign multiple contracts, and together earned over $200 Million Dollars, with none earning less than $30 million over the life of their careers.
In 2004, at 22, Portis signed an eight-year deal that is worth $50.5 million and includes $17 million in combined signing and option bonuses as part of a sign in trade that sent him from the Denver Broncos to the Washington Redskins. A client of Rosenhaus Sports, Portis rushed for 3,099 yards, eclipsing the 1,500-yard mark in both of his first two NFL seasons, and 29 touchdowns, to earn the massive contract.
4) Ray Lewis - $50 Million over Seven Years
I put Ray in the 4th spot as he complete the life of his contract and had a stronger per year average. Ray Lewis’ 3rd and 4th contracts were definitely the kind that were earned. Lewis showcased monster seasons that saw Lewis average 146 tackles, 2 ints and 3 sacks for six years as a starter and leader for a legendary Baltimore Ravens defense. He capped off that time frame with a Super Bowl and a Super Bowl MVP in S.B. XXXV.
Lewis, at 27 in 2002, signed a seven-year contract worth about $50 million and included a signing bonus of $19 million. The deal was negotiated by agent Roosevelt Barnes. Lewis ended his career with a whopping $95 million career earnings.
3) Brandon Linder - $51.7 Million over Five Years
A less revered but immensely talented player, Brandon Linder turned heads in 2017 when The Jacksonville Jaguars signed Linder to a five-year, $51.7 million extension to make him the highest-paid center in NFL history at the time. Selected in the third round of the 2014 draft, the St. Thomas Aquinas alum, Linder was awarded the contract after 3 stellar seasons in the league. In the season preceding the extension, he notably only allowed 13 total QB pressures all season, despite pass blocking on 611 occasions. Following two injury riddled seasons, Linder started all 16 games for a resurgent 2019 Jacksonville Jaguars offense with Gardner Minshew.
2) Calais Campbell - $60 Million over Four Years
A three year starter at the U, one who Greg Rousseau is regularly compared to, Campbell signed a four-year deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars worth a total of $60 million, with $30 million guaranteed. Campbell was to that point, and still is, a giant of man and a consistent terror to opposing defenses, alternating between defensive end and tackle. At that point he had amassed 56.5 career sacks since becoming the No. 50 pick of the Cardinals in the 2008 NFL draft. Following a trade to Baltimore this off-season, Campbell joins a long line of defensive stars from the University of Miami (Reed, Lewis, Jessie Armstead) to help lead a Ravens defense. Campbell currently has a career earnings of $103,068,828.
1) Olivier Vernon - $85 Million over Five Years
With a list that contains a Hall of Famer, UM legends and perennial pro bowlers, its fitting that the top contract on the list is held by a Miami Native who played for both the U and the Miami Dolphins: Olivier Vernon. Currently with the Browns, Vernon was a fan favorite of the Dolphins due to his Miami upbringing.
Well on his way to becoming the most popular Dolphins defensive player since Jason Taylor retired, Vernon averaged 7 sacks, 11 TFLs and 19 QB hits during his 4 year stint with the Dolphins. In the spring of 2016, he was greatly rewarded for his efforts buy the New York Giants, signing a five-year, $85 million contract with $52.5 million guaranteed. This still stands as the richest contract ever signed by a former Miami Hurricane.