Biggest NFL contracts ever signed by former BYU players

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes sent shockwaves throughout the NFL on July 6 when he signed a record-breaking $503 million contract extension that tied him to Kansas City through 2031. The signing shattered the previous total-contract-value-high set by Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, who signed a five-year, $150 million extension in 2019.

In wake of the signing, The Daily Universe is taking a look at the biggest NFL contracts ever signed by former BYU football players in terms of overall contract value.

According to the BYU Athletics website, 335 former Cougars have gone on to play in the NFL. The following seven former BYU Football players are the ones whose bank accounts have experienced the biggest surge, according to data from Spotrac’s database.

Brett Keisel – Five years, $18.8 million

Former BYU and Pittsburgh Steelers defensive lineman Brett Keisel sacks Utah State quarterback Joe Fuentes during a game at LaVell Edwards Stadium on Oct. 5, 2001. (Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

Six-foot-five, 285-pound defensive lineman Brett Keisel racked up 66 tackles, nine sacks and 19 tackles for loss during his two-year career at BYU from 2000-01. Keisel was selected in the seventh round of the 2002 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he would go on to spend his entire 13-year pro career.

Keisel was known for his hard-nosed style of play, anchoring a stifling Steelers defense that led the team to Super Bowl wins in 2006 and 2009. After earning his second Super Bowl ring, Keisel signed a five-year extension with Pittsburgh in 2009 worth $18.8 million. The 2010 NFL Pro Bowler later signed a two-year extension with the Steelers in 2014 worth $3 million before retiring in 2015.

Daniel Sorensen – Four-years, $16 million

Former BYU defensive back Daniel Sorensen runs back an interception for a touchdown during a game against Idaho State on Oct. 22, 2011. (Ari Davis)

Former Cougar safety Daniel “Dirty Dan” Sorensen finished his BYU career in 2013 as a four-year letter winner and as the program’s all-time leader in pass breakups. Despite his success in Provo, the hard-hitting safety went undrafted in the 2014 NFL Draft. BYU alumnus and newly hired Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, however, decided to take a chance on Sorensen and signed him to a deal in May 2014.

Sorensen saw minimal playing time during his first two years with the Chiefs before experiencing a breakout season in 2016. The Colton, California, native tallied 63 tackles that year, including one sack, to go along with three fumble recoveries and three interceptions. Kansas City promptly offered Sorensen a four-year, $16 million extension that keeps him tied to the Chiefs through the upcoming season. Sorensen has continued to impress since then and was a key part of Kansas City’s 2020 playoff run and Super Bowl win.

John Tait – Six-years, $33 million

BYU offensive lineman John Tait lines up before a play during a game against TCU on Oct. 25, 1997. (BYU Photo)

Former Cougar offensive lineman John Tait started 38 games throughout his three-year BYU career and was named an All-American following his junior season. Tait was named the National Offensive Lineman of the Year by The Sports Network and was widely regarded as the No. 1 offensive tackle in the 1999 NFL Draft. The Tempe, Arizona, native was selected 14th overall by the Kansas City Chiefs.

Following a five-year stint with the Chiefs, Tait signed a $33 million contract with the Chicago Bears in 2004 that would keep him with the team for the following six seasons. Tait started every game he played in for the following five seasons and helped lead the Bears to a Super Bowl appearance in 2007. Tait sat out the final season of his contract due to injury and eventually retired in February 2009.

Dennis Pitta – Five-years, $32 million

Dennis Pitta watches from the sidelines as the Cougars play against TCU on Oct. 15, 2008. (Universe Photo)

By the time his college playing days were over, former Cougar tight end Dennis Pitta made sure NFL scouts had him on their radars. Pitta finished his BYU career as the all-time school leader in career receptions and receiving yards as a tight end. The six-foot-five, 245-pounder was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft, where he spent the entirety of his six-year professional career.

Pitta hauled in over 1,000 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns throughout his first three seasons with the Ravens. After signing a one-year extension worth just over $2 million in 2013, Pitta then signed a five-year, $32 million extension the following season, as the team believed he would have a breakout year in 2014. Unfortunately for Pitta, however, a recurring hip injury kept him out for most of the 2014 season and the entire 2015 campaign. Pitta came back in 2016 and recorded his best season statistically, tallying a career-high 86 receptions and 729 yards. Yet another hip injury the following summer, however, forced Pitta to retire from football at the age of 32.

Steve Young – Six-years, $49.1 million

Former BYU great Steve Young scrambles during a play against UNLV on Oct. 10, 1981. (Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

Steve Young is arguably the most well-known former player ever to suit up for the Cougars. The Greenwich, Connecticut, native followed his All-American college career with a 16-year NFL stint that resulted in his eventual induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Young, a seven-time NFL Pro Bowler, was named the league’s Most Valuable Player in 1992 and 1994 before leading the San Francisco 49ers to a Super Bowl win in 1995.

Three years after winning Super Bowl XXIX, Young was offered a six-year, $49.1 million contract extension by the 49ers at the age of 37. Young, however, retired from the NFL just two seasons into his contract in June 2000.

Taysom Hill – Two-years, $21 million

Former BYU quarterback Taysom Hill, now with the NFL’s New Orleans Saints, celebrates a touchdown during the second half of a game against the Washington Redskins on Oct. 8, 2018. (Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Things didn’t appear all that promising for Taysom Hill when he first entered the NFL in 2017. Hill signed as an undrafted free agent with the Green Bay Packers following the 2017 NFL Draft but was waived by the team just four months later. New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton, however, took a chance on Hill. Fast forward three years and Hill has developed into one of the most versatile playmakers in NFL history.

Payton has taken advantage of Hill’s athleticism by having Hill fill a variety of roles within the Saints’ offense. Although Hill is officially listed as a backup quarterback on the team’s roster, he can often be seen making plays as a tight end, halfback, fullback and even as a member of the special teams. The 6-foot-two, 220-pounder tallied 234 receiving yards, caught six touchdowns passes, rushed for 156 yards and another touchdown, and threw for 55 yards during the 2019 season. The Saints were so enamored by Hill that they signed him to a two-year, $21 million extension in the spring of 2020.

Kyle Van Noy – Four-years, $51 million

Former BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy, no. 3, hypes up the crowd during a game against Utah on Sept. 22, 2013. (Ari Davis)

Kyle Van Noy was a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks when playing at BYU from 2010-13. The Reno, Nevada, native generated plenty of NFL buzz for himself after racking up 226 total tackles, 26 sacks and seven interceptions throughout his four years in Provo. Van Noy was selected in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions, where he spent the following two and a half seasons.

Following an underwhelming few seasons with the Lions, Van Noy’s career was resurrected after being traded to the New England Patriots. The inside linebacker anchored a defense that helped lead the Patriots to three consecutive Super Bowl appearances, winning in 2017 and 2019. Van Noy received plenty of interest from a variety of teams as soon as his extension with New England was up, and he eventually signed a whopping four-year, $51 million contract with the Miami Dolphins in March 2020.

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