Addressing one of their biggest offseason needs even before the free agent signing period officially commenced, the New York Giants on Friday reached agreement with former Miami Dolphins cornerback Sam Madison on a four-year contract.
The deal, which has been in the works for several days, is worth $7.4 million. It includes a signing bonus of $2 million and base salaries of $900,000 (for 2006), $1.2 million (2007), $1.5 million (2008) and $1.8 million (2009). There is also an annual incentive of $250,000 for four or more interceptions.
Released by the Dolphins last week for salary cap reasons, Madison visited with Giants officials early this week, and the two sides then opened negotiations. Agent Drew Rosenhaus declined to comment on the deal, but this marks the second season in a row in which he moved one of his high-profile free agent clients to the Giants to help bolster the defense.
New York coaches and team officials obviously targeted Madison, upon his release, as a veteran player still capable of producing at a position that figures to undergo an overhaul this offseason. Former first-round pick Will Allen, a starter since his 2001 rookie season with the Giants, is an unrestricted free agent and is not expected to return. His longtime starting partner, Will Peterson, missed all but two games in 2005 with a serious back problem, and his future remains uncertain.
The Giants feel that second-year pro Corey Webster, a second-round choice in '05, has the skills to emerge as a starter in 2006 and youngster Curtis DeLoatch still possesses great potential. But in adding Madison, the Giants have provided themselves with stability and veteran maturity, and acquired a proven player who has always been an excellent tutor to younger cornerbacks.
Since the end of the season, it had been speculated that the Dolphins would part ways with Madison, 31, for cap reasons. Madison said early in the offseason that he would not rework his contract to stay with the team, and conceded that would probably lead to his eventual release. But in later weeks, Madison indicated he might be open to readjusting his deal. The two sides were unable, though, to strike a compromise.
It marked the second spring in a row that Miami parted with a top cornerback, with the Dolphins having traded Madison's longtime partner, Patrick Surtain to Kansas City last year for a second-round draft choice, a move also forced by the team's salary cap overage at the time. For a period of about five seasons, Surtain and Madison formed one of the NFL's elite cornerback tandems.
A nine-year veteran and four-time Pro Bowl player, Madison has 31 career interceptions and 69 passes defensed. In 138 regular-season appearances, Madison, a former Louisville star selected by Miami in the second round of the 1997 draft, had 354 tackles.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.