Veteran receiver gets $4.1 million signing bonus

Wide receiver Keenan McCardell, who helped to significantly upgrade the Chargers' passing game in the second half of last season, has signed a two-year extension, ESPN.com has learned.

Acquired by the Chargers in an Oct. 19 trade with Tampa Bay, a deal that gave the Bucs third- and sixth-round choices in April's draft, McCardell played in only seven games (six starts). But he made a major impact on an offense that sorely needed a veteran presence at wide receiver.

McCardell held out on the Bucs for training camp and much of the regular season because of a contract dispute. He caught 31 passes for 393 yards and one touchdown for the Chargers and quickly became a consistent veteran target for Drew Brees.

The two-year extension is worth $7.6 million in so-called new money. He received a signing bonus of $4.1 million and base salaries for the extension seasons of $2.65 million in 2006 and $2.6 million in '07. For '05, the final year of his existing deal, McCardell was due a base salary of $2.75 million, but that has been reduced to $1 million.

The bottom line for McCardell is that he will earn $5.1 million in '05 between the signing bonus and base salary, instead of the $2.75 million figure. For the Chargers, the deal represents a small salary cap savings.

One of the most prolific wide receivers in NFL history and one of only 17 to post more than 700 catches, McCardell is a two-time Pro Bowl performer. At 35, he has not shown any slippage, still runs extremely precise routes, and is a receiver who simply knows how to get open, especially in clutch situations.

The 13-year veteran played most of his career in Jacksonville, catching more than 75 passes in all but one of his six seasons with the Jaguars, and notching four seasons with 1,000-plus yards. He was released by the Jaguars for salary cap reasons in 2002, signed with Tampa Bay and helped the Bucs win a Super Bowl that year.

McCardell has 755 receptions for 9,763 yards and 53 touchdowns in a career that includes 170 appearances.

Senior writer Len Pasquarelli covers the NFL for ESPN.com.