Entering his eighth year in the NFL, Slippery Rock alumnus Brandon Fusco signed the largest contract of his life, a three-year deal worth $12.75 million dollars, $5.5 million of which is guaranteed.
“It’s unbelivable. The magic number for a great pension for the rest of your life is 10 years, and he just completed his eighth season,” Slippery Rock head coach Shawn Lutz said. “Nothing is guaranteed, it’s all about the signing bonus.”
Fusco spent his first six years with the Minnesota Vikings, being a starter for every year after his rookie season (all but one at right guard) and helping lead the Vikings to playoff appearances in 2012 and 2015.
During last year’s free agency, Fusco signed a one-year deal with the San Francisco 49ers, a team that he started all 16 games for throughout the 2017 season. Fusco again started at right guard for the season and helped lead an offensive line that contributed to the team having top ten ranks in passing yards (3925) and rushing touchdowns (15).
“He really wanted to stay with the 49ers with Jimmy Garappolo,” Lutz said. “But the NFL means ‘not for long’, it’s a business at the end of the day.”
Fusco is expected to start right away at right guard, and will help bolster an offensive line that assisted quarterback Matt Ryan to the 2016 NFL MVP. Fusco, who was ranked as the 21st guard in the NFL for last season, will be looking to build on the success he started to have near the end of last season as a pass blocker, allowing only eight QB pressures in the final eight games of the season.
“He was finally healthy last season. He had a great year, he was at one point one of the highest ranked guards in the NFL.” Lutz said.
Falcons fans and establishment are excited at the addition of Fusco for two big reasons: stability and familiarity. Fusco has appeared in 83 NFL games, and started 80 of them. While he did miss the majority of the 2014 injury due to a pectoral tear, he started the 12th-most snaps for an NFL offensive lineman last year in his 16 starts. Fusco will also have a head start integrating into the offense, due to the Falcons running the same offensive scheme that the 49ers did last year, meaning there will be no big surprises for Fusco in his adjustment during the offseason.
While stats are always nice to bring up, Fusco was able to acquire his big contract for the same reason that SRU coaches loved him so much: his intangibles.
“The thing they love about him is that he is great in the run game,” Lutz said. “He’s nasty, he’s physical and he’s strong– that’s what he’s known for.”