One of the more intriguing storylines following the 06-07 college football season was Jeff Samardzija, the wide receiver/starting pitcher out of Notre Dame. He’s finally made his choice. “The Shark” will be hanging up the pads, opting to sign with the Chicago Cubs for 5 years and $10 million. He may have pissed off some football teams looking for a big wide receiver but in the end, it’s safe to say he made the right move.
Samardzija was a 5th round draft pick last year but was ranked very high in most prospect ranking lists. The only reason he fell was his commitment to football. His 2006 season at Notre Dame made him a likely late 1st round pick, catching 78 passes for 1,017 yards and 12 touchdowns. He had great size and good hands. But he also had a 96-97 MPH fastball and in the end, that’s going to pay him a lot more.
Samardzija went 21-6 during his career at Notre Dame. In limited action playing for the Cubs’ Class A teams, Samardzija compiled an ERA of 2.70 in seven starts.
Samardzija said longevity and the chance of injury were not major factors in his decision to go with baseball over football. And he said there is no sadness about giving up football after a great career with Notre Dame. In 2005 he set the school’s single-season records for yards receiving with 1,249 and TD catches with 15.
In an offseason where baseball salaries went above and beyond the standard levels of absurdity, Samardzija made the right choice. Even if he never toes the rubber at Wrigley Field, he’s already a millionaire. The deal included a $2.5 million signing bonus. With options for the 2012 and 2013 seasons, this is a deal that could reach up to $17 million. The average NFL salary is roughly $1-1.5 million, a far cry from what a pitcher with a good fastball can make. Sure, NFL receivers can make a nice chunk of change. But it takes longevity to do that, which is difficult to have in football. I’d say Samardzija made the right call.