10 Athletes You Didn't Know Had Endorsement Deals

Giancarlo Ferrari-King@@GiancarloKingFeatured ColumnistFebruary 2, 2016

10 Athletes You Didn't Know Had Endorsement Deals

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    Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

    Endorsement deals and athletes have become synonymous with each other these days. These lucrative, incentive-laden contracts range from signature sneakers and apparel all the way out to watches, restaurants and more.

    Certain guys we know have big-time deals. Names like Tom Brady, Cam Newton, Russell Westbrook and more have changed the way we look at brands. Others tend to get swept under the rug.

    We want to change that. Analyzing all the deals out there, we created list discussing 10 athletes you didn't know had endorsement deals.

    In order to keep things consistent, each name on this list has to be signed to an apparel or sneaker company. That being said, here are 10 athletes you didn't know had endorsement deals.

Kemba Walker

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    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker made a name for himself shredding defenses in college. The University of Connecticut native transitioned over from a collegiate prodigy to a productive NBA asset in 2011 when he was selected ninth overall.

    Since that change of scenery, Walker has gone on to average 16.9 points, 5.3 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game.

    Even before he achieved all of that, Walker had already inked an endorsement deal with Under Armour in 2011, per Darren Rovell—who was working for CNBC at the time. It was one of those "under-the-radar" moves that few people knew about at the time.

    After four years of working with Under Armour, Walker finally departed for Jordan Brand, according to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer. The deal made sense considering Michael Jordan also happens to own the team he plays for.

    Either way, Walker has landed two marquee endorsement deals during his brief NBA career, and both moves never garnered any sort of mainstream media attention.

Carey Price

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    Sometimes it's easy to forget the fact that NHL players also enjoy sweet endorsement deals. Maybe it's because you don't see them rocking signature sneakers or layers apparel on a nightly basis.

    Beneath that bodacious mask and heavy-duty pads, Montreal Canadiens goalkeeper Carey Price happens to don the Under Armour logo. Price has worked with the company since 2011. That was the year he inked a deal with the apparel giant.

    It's cool to see Price in the same realm as Stephen Curry and Cam Newton. He's one of the NHL's top players and despite not being able to wear special cleats or signature kicks, his star power has warranted screen time, prmoting the company's vast array of training products.

Josh Smith

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    Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

    Josh Smith's NBA tenure has been a roller coaster ride to say the least. After establishing himself as a big part of the Atlanta Hawks offense for nine seasons, Smith went on to try his hand in Detroit, Houston and Los Angeles.

    Frequent stops across the country didn't slow down the endorsement train. In December 2015, Smith signed on to become a Brandblack featured athlete, per Tim Newcomb of Sports Illustrated.

    Considering that Jamal Crawford got his own signature shoe with the company, one would assume this budding partnership will allow Smith to sport a unique pair of kicks in the near future.

Randall Cobb

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    A lot of NFL athletes have lucrative endorsement deals at their disposal. Randall Cobb happens to be part of that list.

    Cobb's deal with Under Armour tends to get overshadowed because of guys like Cam Newton, Julio Jones and Tom Brady hogging the spotlight. Even fighting an uphill battle on the notoriety front, the talented pass-catcher has starred in a riveting Under Armour digital commercial—which you can view above this block of text.

    Sometimes timing is everything. With Newton and Curry hogging the spotlight—and rightfully so—Cobb's deal can often times go unnoticed by the general public.

Dwight Howard

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    At one point in time, everyone knew Dwight Howard had a sneaker deal—he was signed to Adidas. The problem was that his shoe line turned out to be an underwhelming venture—his last year with Adidas resulted in a lowly $1.5 million in sales, according to Kurt Badenhausen of Forbes.

    Those insignificant totals pushed him into a baron wasteland filled only with cosmic rays of irrelevance.

    These days you'd be surprised to know that Howard actually has landed another shoe deal. The company he chose to revamp his signature shoe was Peak,per Fox 26 Houston. "I had a great run with Adidas. Peak is an up and coming company and we're really looking forward to helping them grow in the States," Howard told the network.

    Who knows what the future holds in terms of sneaker sales. All that is certain now is nobody expected Howard to be with Peak after parting ways with Adidas.

Robin Lopez

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Adidas has managed to cultivate a huge roster of NBA talent in recent years. That effort was bolstered when James Harden got a cool $200 million to join the Three-Stripe army, as Sam Amick of USA Today mentioned.

    Big money and star power sometimes tends to cast a shadow over certain athletes on the sponsorship roster. Guys like Robin Lopez become collateral damage.

    What's cool about Lopez's relationship with Adidas is that despite not having his own signature sneaker, he's managed to do some really outstanding stuff with his kicks. Back when he was a member of the Portland Trail Blazers, Lopez customized his sneakers by drawing intricate patterns on them.

    If you don't know about his deal with Adidas, you should. There aren't many guys out there doing creative stuff with their kicks like Lopez.

Andre Ward

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    Boxing needs a new star with Floyd Mayweather comfortably enjoying retirement. Could Andre Ward step in and fill that void?

    Ward is 28-0, according to BoxRec, claiming the WBA Super World Middleweight title in the process. Understanding how gifted of a fighter this former Olympian has been, Jordan Brand jumped all over the opportunity to sign him to a deal.

    If you remember, the last marquee boxer to be sponsored by the Jumpman regime was Roy Jones Jr. So in that sense it's cool to see Ward get that type of treatment. He's worn plenty of Jordan gear in the ring and even got a tour of Nike's facilities, as News.Nike.com highlighted a few years back. 

    Even though he's already an established star in the sport of boxing, Ward's Jordan Brand endorsement isn't common knowledge.

DeMarco Murray

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    DeMarco Murray's difficult first year with the Philadelphia Eagles was tough to stomach. But between the five-year, $42 million deal he signed with team and the countless endorsements he's racked up over the years, per Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Daily, he's still a viable player in a marketing capacity.

    To go along with a tough on-field campaign in 2015, Murray's role with Adidas also has gone unnoticed. The focus has shifted back to guys like Adrian Peterson—who grabbed headlines as ESPN's Ben Goessling wrote—leaving Murray in the dust.

    Until he revs up production and becomes the DeMarco Murray of old, few will pay attention to what company he's wearing on and off the gridiron.

Jeremy Lin

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    When Linsanity took over Madison Square Garden, Jeremy Lin was on top of the world. Despite not ceasing a multitude of opportunities, Lin had plenty of endorsement deals rolling through the door, per Erik Matuszewski of Bloomberg Business.

    Now that the hype surrounding Lin has been relegated to a dull roar, one would think the endorsement well would be bone-dry. That's not the case.

    Lin has managed to maintain a strong footwear relationship with Adidas. He's worn various models throughout the deal, including a "Player Exclusive" version of the popular Crazylight Boost earlier this season, per Brandon Richard of Sole Collector.

    Linsanity may be over, but that hasn't hindered Lin's ability to be part of Adidas' basketball empire.

Dee Gordon

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    Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

    There's no doubt about it, Miami Marlins' second baseman Dee Gordon is a lot of fun to watch. As a true speedster in every sense of the word, Gordon's five seasons in Major League Baseball have resulted in 188 stolen bases and a lifetime batting average of .293.

    That steady wave of production allowed Gordon to join up with Under Armour. He's now part of an impressive baseball roster that includes Bryce Harper, Brandon Phillips and Clayton Kershaw.

    Gordon hasn't completely become a household name yet. That's one reason why it's easy to gloss over the fact that he's part of the Under Armour family. The good news is that's going to change. Gordon is growing each season and becoming a star in this league.

    All Under Armour endorsement information via UnderArmour.com, unless noted otherwise.