Alabama Football: Former Tide, NFL free agents can be boom or bust


Former Alabama football players, A.J. McCarron, Andre Smith and D.J. Fluker have signed new NFL deals. For Eddie Lacy and others, free agency can be traumatic.

NFL free agency is a boom and bust cycle every offseason. None of this year’s former Alabama football players are in the mega-bucks range. That is not to say the newly signed deals are unfair or unappreciated.

A.J. McCarron signed a two-year deal with the Buffalo Bills. He is guaranteed $6 million of the $10 million contract. Andre Smith signed a two-year, $8 million deal with the Arizona Cardinals. D.J. Fluker signed a one-year $1.5 million contract with the Seattle Seahawks.

At least publicly, each player was happy with their new deal. Even though 24 NFL free agents have signed new contracts valued at $40 million or more, the Tide trio could be doing much worse. For five other former Alabama football players, hopes have no relation to a deal like Kirk Cousins signed with Minnesota. Cousins got $84 million for a three-year deal, all guaranteed.

Eddie Lacy, Courtney Upshaw, Quinton Dial, Anthony Steen and Trent Richardson are not aspiring to big-dollar deals. They just want a chance to play in the NFL next season at a fair level of compensation. Defining that fair level requires negotiation but it is largely driven by simple supply and demand.

Upshaw, Dial and Steen have a reasonable chance to sign with some team for next season. Lacy might as well, depending on his weight. The situation is altogether different for Richardson. Trent may never get another NFL chance and if he does he will be forced to take whatever is offered.

Let’s review the NFL careers of these five, former Alabama football players.

Courtney Upshaw

Courtney Upshaw is a six-year NFL veteran. He spent four seasons with the Baltimore Ravens and the last two with the Atlanta Falcons. He has played in 90 NFL regular season games, including 13 last season for the Falcons. Upshaw has earned close to $8 million over his six NFL seasons.

His limited contribution to the Falcons defense last season puts him at a disadvantage as a free agent. The former second-round pick is probably at or near the end of his NFL career.

Quinton Dial

Dial is a five-year NFL veteran. After four seasons with the 49ers, he spent last season with Green Bay. He has played in 59 NFL regular season games with 34 starts. His five NFL seasons have earned him more than $7 million.

Quinton started 26 games for the 49ers in 2015 and 2016. At 27, the former Clay-Chalkville HS product should get a new deal for the 2018 season.

Anthony Steen

Anthony Steen has been in the NFL for three seasons. He started with the Cardinals but never played for them in a regular season game. As a Miami Dolphin, Steen has played in 21 games the last two seasons with 13 starts. He has earned almost $1.6 million so far in the NFL.

Eddie Lacy

Eddie Lacy has played five NFL seasons, four with Green Bay, followed by Seattle last season. He had two great seasons for the Packers before weight became a problem. He has played in 60 NFL games with 51 starts. Eddy saw limited action with the Seahawks last season, gaining only 179 yards on 69 carries. Lacy has earned over $7.5 million in his five NFL seasons.

The shelf-life of NFL running backs is short. That does not bode well for Eddie Lacy. It hurts Trent Richardson even more.

Trent Richardson

Trent Richardson played three NFL seasons with the Cleveland Browns and the Indianapolis Colts. He played in his last NFL game in 2014. Multiple attempts to gain a new NFL home failed. His most recent football playing job was with the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League. He performed well enough in Canada to hope he is still on the radar of some NFL teams.

Richardson has earned over $18 million from professional football. Much of it was his initial signing bonus from the Browns.

Check out this video about Trent’s continued comeback efforts.

Alabama football fans will be rooting for these five players to get another NFL shot in 2018.

Next: Lacy, his weight and the NFL

Perhaps we were a bit unkind in the post linked above. We asked if Eddie could not ‘eat his way’ out of the NFL. We hope that is not what has happened.