Davis', Jackson's Free-Agent Riches Eluded Other 2017 First-Rounders

Of the top 32 picks from four years ago who were free agents this year, none cashed in like the Tennessee Titans' two.
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If you want to know what the Tennessee Titans gave up, look at what other teams paid out.

Among 2017 first-round draft picks, Corey Davis and Adoreé Jackson have cashed in like no others during the NFL’s current free-agent signing period as the now-former Tennessee Titans came to terms on contracts worth a combined $76.5 million with $53.5 million guaranteed.

The NFL’s 2021 free-agent class included 13 players who were among the first 32 selected in the 2017 NFL Draft. Davis was fifth overall and Jackson was 18th, which made Tennessee the only team with two of the top 20 and created an opportunity for that year’s draft class to turn into a foundational one for the franchise. Instead, each ended up on the open market after just four seasons and found themselves in high demand.

Of the 10 who have signed deals with new teams since March 17, Davis and Jackson are the only ones who got multiple years and the only ones whose contracts are worth more than $6 million. Davis’ deal with the New York Jets is for three years and $37.5 million with $27 million in guarantees. Jackson signed with the New York Giants for three years and $39 million with $26 million guaranteed.

A look at this year's top free-agent contracts given to 2017 first-round draft picks: 

Player (drafted)Former teamCurrent teamYearsMoney

Adoreé Jackson (18th)

Tennessee

N.Y. Giants

3

$39 million

Corey Davis (5th)

Tennessee

N.Y. Jets

3

$37.5 million

Haason Reddick (13th)

Arizona

Carolina

1

$6 million

Jarrad Davis (21st)

Detroit

N.Y Jets

1

$5.5 million

Takkarist McKinley (26h)

Atlanta/Las Vegas

Cleveland

1

$4.25 million

Davis was available because the Titans declined last May to pick up the fifth-year option on his rookie contract, and Jackson went on the market after the current signing period began when he was released in a move to create salary-cap space.

Seven franchises made it clear that they didn’t want their 2017 first-round picks to become free agents anytime soon – if ever – with long-term extensions before they even got to their fifth season. It is a notable group that includes No. 1 overall pick Myles Garrett (Cleveland), quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City) and Deshaun Watson (Houston) as well as dual-threat running back Christian McCaffrey (Carolina). All are massive pacts, led by Mahomes’ (10 years, $450 million), that dwarf those of the Titans’ draft picks.

Eleven others are set to play the 2021 season on their fifth-year options and one, Dallas defensive end Taco Charlton (28th overall), was waived after two seasons, which has significantly hindered his earning power since.

Leaving the Titans, though, cost Davis and Jackson nothing. It turned out, in fact, to be the opposite – they had more value than any of their peers.

“(Davis) is my guy,” Jackson said. “… Going to New York, the Jets, and being able to play and to get the opportunity to shine – I’m just happy for him, really. Just knowing that we came out the same year. Both the same [draft] class, first-round picks.

“You see him out there – he’s a dog, run after the catch – he brings a lot to the table, and I’m excited to see what he does. … (Signing with the Giants) just made sense for me.”

Not to mention quite a few dollars.