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97 days until Michigan football: Aidan Hutchinson setting himself up for massive payday

There are 97 days until the defending national champion Michigan Wolverines football team takes the field in the Aug. 31 opener against Fresno State. Each day until then, we’ll discuss current Michigan events, the upcoming season and/or take a look at a significant number that correlates with how many days remain until kickoff, whether it be a player’s jersey number, a year, a date, a score, etc.

Michigan finds itself inside of 100 days until the season kicks off as it looks to continue a run of trips to the College Football Playoff, which got going during the 2021 campaign. A large part in that was defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, who was instrumental in setting a tone and building a foundation that helped the program win its 12th national title two seasons later.

Hutchinson left Ann Arbor having played in 43 career games with 30 starts, recording 156 total tackles, 27.5 tackles for loss and 17.5 sacks. Much of that production came during his senior season, where he racked up 62 total tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss and a single-season program record 14.0 sacks.

His senior season helped solidify him as one of the best players in all of college football, and one of the most coveted prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft. Most expected him to go with the No. 1 overall pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars, but they went with Georgia pass rusher Travon Walker ahead of him. That allowed the hometown Detroit Lions to scoop up the Michigan star with the No. 2 overall pick.

Known for being a snake-bitten franchise, Hutchinson’s presence has helped change the narrative in Detroit over the last two seasons. During his rookie campaign, he recorded 52 tackles, 9.5 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries and 3 interceptions as part of a team that went 9-8, winning 8 of their last 10 games and finishing just outside the NFC playoff picture.

Last season, the Michigan alum took his game to another level as he continued to establish himself as one of the best young pass rushers in the NFL. He played the most snaps of any EDGE in the NFL (1,146) and graded out as a 91.0 overall on Pro Football Focus. Hutchinson finished second in the league in total pressures with 121, one behind Nick Bosa of the San Francisco 49ers. He had 51 tackles, 11.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries and an interception.

Hutchinson and the Lions finished the regular season 12-5 and won a pair of playoff games, advancing to the NFC Championship game before losing to the 49ers. The Wild Card round win over the Los Angeles Rams was the team’s first playoff victory since 1991.

Hutchinson is heading into the third year of his rookie contract, which he signed for 4 years/$35.7 million after he was drafted. Should he continue on his current track, he could be set for an extension next offseason that could make him one of the highest-paid players in football. Bosa received a five-year extension worth $170 million ($34 million avg.) in 2023, meaning there is a good chance Hutchinson eclipses that deal with a rising price tag as time goes on.

The Lions handed out megadeals to wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown and offensive tackle Penei Sewell after their third years, so Hutchinson could be the next in line as one of the building blocks.

Hutchinson has been instrumental in reversing the fortunes of both Michigan and the Lions, making him one of the most consequential players in the history of the state. For that, he can firmly establish himself on the Mt. Rushmore of Wolverine greats if he continues his current trajectory.


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