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Former ‘Nole Devonta Freeman hits the jackpot

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For the second time in the past two weeks, two former Florida State Seminoles have landed lucrative contract extensions to stay with the current teams. On Wednesday, Atlanta Falcons Pro-Bowl running back Devonta Freeman became the highest-paid running back in the NFL

The deal, which runs through 2022, is worth $41.25 million, which includes a $15 million signing bonus. Over the length of the contract, Freeman will be compensated at an average rate of $8.25, just ahead of Buffalo’s LeSean McCoy at $8.1 million and Tampa Bay’s Doug Martin is third at $7.15 million.

“We are very pleased that we were able to get this extension done,” said Falcons’ General Manager Thomas Dimitroff said on “Devonta embodies everything we are looking for in a Falcon, and we are proud that he’ll be able to spend his career here in Atlanta.”

Freeman was selected by the Falcons in the fourth round of the 2014 draft out of Florida State. He has made the Pro Bowl twice.

“A young boy from the bottom,” Freeman tweeted. “You put that to work & stay humble, you’ll be rewarded. All glory to GOD. Now we just gotta go get that trophy.”

On July 30, the Minnesota Vikings signed Freeman’s former college teammate, cornerback Xavier Rhodes, to a six-year extension worth $78.1 million. Of that total, Rhodes is guaranteed $41 million.

According to the Tallahassee Democrat, an astounding 29 Florida State players were drafted into the NFL since 2013. Before the Freeman contract, that group had earned $168 million, which includes the Rhodes deal.

Both Freeman and Rhodes had one year left on their contracts signed as rookies before signing the extensions. Next year, Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ quarterback and former Seminole Jameis Winston will be in the same position.

With that in mind, this year would be a great time for Winston, as well as the Bucs, to have a sterling season.


Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at

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