Jeff Samardzija's baseball decision keeps paying big

IRISH STEW

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

With Jeff Samardzija reportedly signing a $90 million contract, the former Notre Dame star has more proof that he made the right financial decision in choosing to play baseball rather than football after his Irish career.

On Saturday, Samardzija signed a five-year contract to pitch for the San Francisco Giants, according to Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports.

Samardzija's new contract will pay him an average annual salary of $18 million. No wide receiver in the NFL has a higher salary this season.

At Notre Dame, Samardzija developed into a top prospect on the baseball diamond and on the football field. The right-handed pitcher compiled a 21-6 record and a 3.82 ERA in three seasons with the Irish baseball team. He was then selected by the Chicago Cubs in the fifth round of the 2006 MLB Draft.

Despite being drafted for baseball, Samardzija returned to Notre Dame to play his senior football season in 2006 after a junior year as a consensus first-team All-American.

He earned All-American status once again following a senior season with 78 catches for 1,017 yards and 12 touchdowns. He finished his Notre Dame career as the school's all-time leader in catches (179), receiving yards (2,593) and touchdown catches (27).

But instead of entering the NFL Draft, Samardzija signed a five-year, $10 million contract with the Cubs in January 2007. He has since pitched in the major leagues for the Cubs, Athletics and White Sox.

His new contract with the Giants is worth more than all wide receivers in the NFL except for Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions, who signed a seven-year, $113.45 million contract extension in 2012, according to Forbes. The second-largest contract belongs to Julio Jones of the Atlanta Falcons ($71.256 million).

Jeff Samardzija hauls in a touchdown during the 2005 season at Notre Dame. (SBT File Photo)