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Pitt in the Pros

Former Pitt Stars Raking in New High Dollar Deals Across the Last Few Seasons



Pitt running back alum James Conner.

Kenny Pickett signed his rookie contract Thursday, securing $14 million over the next four seasons, and while that’s nothing to sneeze at, he’s just the fifth highest-paid former Pitt star to sign in 2022.

It’s been a lucrative year for former Pitt stars. And that should only continue with the young player being put into the NFL over the last couple of seasons.

Aaron Donald is the best player in the NFL, and while he’s no quarterback, he’s certainly being paid like one. The reigning Super Bowl champion inked a three-year, $95 million contract with the Los Angeles Rams — all guaranteed. With just over $33 million over the next three seasons, it shatters T.J. Watt’s annual $28 million.

Of course, with 84 tackles (38 solo), 19 tackles for loss, 12.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and four passes defended in the regular season and 13 tackles (six solo), four tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and a pass defense (including the Super Bowl-clinching play), Donald has more than earned it.

Avonte Maddox signed a nice extension with the Philadelphia Eagles following a strong season, a three-year deal worth $22.5 million ($13 million guaranteed).

James Conner parlayed a stellar 2021 season, over 1,000 yards from scrimmage and 18 touchdowns, into a three-year, $21 million extension ($13.5 million guaranteed).

Jordan Whitehead is joining former Pitt star Jason Pinnock in the New York Jets’ secondary this season. Whitehead is coming off four strong seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and cashed in on a two-year, $14.5 million deal.

Pickett, the first and only quarterback selected in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft in April, was the final selection to sign his rookie contract. And if all goes well, the Heisman finalist will earn much, much more on his second NFL contract half a decade from now.

K’Waun Williams, fresh off a strong season with the San Francisco 49ers to conclude five seasons in the Bay Area, signed a two-year, $5 million deal with the Denver Broncos, and long-time NFL punter Andy Lee re-upped with the Arizona Cardinals for $1.5 million over one year.

That’s $173.5 million for Pitt players in just those seven players signing new deals this offseason, and the big money moves haven’t just been limited to this offseason.

Brian O’Neill signed one of the richest contracts for an offensive lineman in NFL history last September, inking a contract for $92.5 million ($53 million guaranteed) over five years with the Minnesota Vikings. As a follow-up in 2021, O’Neill started all 17 games and earned a Pro Bowl nod.

And back in 2019, Tyler Boyd signed a four-year, $43 million ($17 million guaranteed) deal fresh off a 1,000-yard season with the Cincinnati Bengals. He’s since rewarded the Bengals with three consecutive 800-plus yard seasons.


Aaron Donald – 3 years, $95 million (95 guaranteed)

Avonte Maddox – 3 years, $22.5 million (13 guaranteed)

James Conner – 3 years, $21 million (13.5 guaranteed)

Jordan Whitehead – 2 years, $14.5 million (7 guaranteed)

Kenny Pickett – 4 years, 14 million (7 guaranteed)

K’Waun Williams – 2 years, 5 million (2.5 guaranteed)

Andy Lee – 1 year, 1.5 million (750 guaranteed)


Brian O’Neill – 5 years, 92.5 million (53 guaranteed)


Tyler Boyd – 4 years, 43 million (17 guaranteed)

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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