Fitzgerald, Banks sign free-agent contracts

Two former Kansas State football players signed free-agent contracts with NFL teams today.

Jeffrey Fitzgerald, a defensive lineman who led the Wildcats with seven sacks last season, signed with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Brandon Banks, a wide receiver/return specialist, landed with the Washington Redskins.

Both were standout players for the Wildcats, but neither heard their name called in last month’s NFL Draft. Nonetheless, they will each now have the chance to make a professional roster.

Fitzgerald, at 6-foot-4 and 280 pounds, played just one season at K-State after transferring from Virginia. He was far and away the Wildcats’ top pass rusher, and an all-round leader.

Fitzgerald will join former K-Staters Ryan Lilja and Jon McGraw in Kansas City.

In Washington, Banks will join former Wildcats defensive lineman Rob Jackson.

Banks, a 5-foot-7 speedster, was the Wildcats’ top receiving threat in each of the past two seasons. Last year, he led the team with 56 catches for 705 yards. He was also a threat to score every time he touched the ball on kick returns. Banks tied for the nation’s lead in kickoff returns for touchdowns with four, while ranking fifth in kickoff return yards with 1,127, and 12th with a 28.9-yard average, on 39 kickoff returns.

For his efforts, Banks was named Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Year, first-team All-Big 12 kickoff returner/punt returner and second-team All-Big 12 wide receiver.

With the Redskins, Banks will likely focus all of his efforts on special teams. He will wear No.16.

Other Wildcats that have joined NFL teams this spring are tight end Jeron Mastrud and defensive back Joshua Moore. Mastrud signed a free-agent contract with Tampa Bay. Moore was drafted in the fifth round by the Chicago Bears.