Nearly a year and a half of acrimony between the Washington Redskins and star linebacker LaVar Arrington has ended with a settlement of the contract dispute in which the three-time Pro Bowl defender insisted that the team shorted him by $6.5 million in the eight-year extension he signed in December 2003.
The settlement, which culminated weeks of intense bargaining that was ratcheted up over the past few days, is expected to become official Thursday. The deal was essentially completed on Wednesday when Arrington's attorney, Steve Brown, was able to have some key sticking points removed from the settlement language.
Under terms of the settlement, Arrington is likely to see half the disputed $6.5 million. The deal allows Arrington to void the contract, which is scheduled to run through the 2011 season, as early as 2007 if he is named twice to the Pro Bowl. Making the Pro Bowl twice over the next four years would permit Arrington to then void the remainder of the deal.
If such a void is triggered, and Arrington opts to become a free agent, the Redskins can "buy back" the voided years with a $3.25 million bonus.
There is an additional $1.6 million in bonuses that Arrington can earn, but which will be difficult for him to reach, given playing time stipulations involved. As recently as a few days ago, it appeared a settlement might include a contract extension, but extra years were not included in the final document.
The dispute began shortly after Arrington signed an eight-year, $68 million extension late in the 2003 season. Arrington and agent Carl Poston subsequently charged that a bonus of $6.5 million for 2006, which they said had been agreed upon, was omitted from the final draft of the contract that the star linebacker signed. Poston acknowledged that he had not read the final contract.
Arrington, the second overall choice in the 2000 draft, filed a formal grievance through the NFL Players Association last year. After several arbitration hearings were postponed, Arrington withdrew the grievance last month, in part at the urging of NFLPA executive director Gene Upshaw, and the two sides pursued a settlement.
It appeared a settlement was close last week, but Redskins owner Daniel Snyder backed away from some of the stipulations, and the agreement nearly fell apart.
Sources close to the talks told ESPN.com that, while Upshaw played a major role in the discussions, the deal was completed because of the relationship between Arrington and coach Joe Gibbs, and their mutual eagerness to reach an agreement before the start of the season. Arrington, who has not played in the preseason and has missed considerable practice time in camp, is to make his debut in Friday night's contest against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click here.