|Friday, June 6
Urlacher highest paid player in franchise history
By Len Pasquarelli
While the blockbuster nine-year contract signed by Chicago Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher earlier this week falls short of some estimates that placed its value as high as $72 million, the deal is nonetheless among the most lucrative ever awarded a defensive player, ESPN.com has confirmed through NFL Players Association documents.
The contract totals $56.655 million, and includes a $13 million signing bonus, not the $18 million in upfront money suggested in some reports. It does not have any "voidable" years. Of course, since the salary cap charges for each season of the contract exceed $5 million, and top out at $7.4 million in 2011, it is reasonable to assume the Bears will eventually be forced to restructure the contract.
The salary cap charge for 2003 rises from $3.29 million to $5.150 million.
It is believed that the $13 million signing bonus is paid in installments, but details on the timetable were not available.
The base salaries for the contract are $1.05 million (for 2003), $1.75 million (2004), $1.25 million (2005), $3.95 million (2006), $3.95 million (2007), $3.95 million (2008), $4.95 million (2009), $6.15 million (2010) and $7.35 million (2011). There is a workout bonus of $5,600 for this season and then of $50,000 each for 2004-2011.
Urlacher, 25, will receive roster bonuses of $1 million (2003), $2 million (2004), $3 million (2005), $1.3 million (2010) and $1.6 million (2011). The roster bonuses in 2010 and 2011, according to NFLPA documents, are tied to team and individual performances in previous seasons.
Over its first-three years, the contract is valued at $23.155 million, among the richest in NFL history for such a period. The seven-year value is $40.155 million, making it much less than the seven-year, $50 million deal Ray Lewis signed with the Baltimore Ravens last summer.
The contract, aptly termed a "landmark" deal by general manager Jerry Angelo, is the richest in franchise history.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.