Vasher's signs $28 million extension with Bears pays up front

The five-year contract extension that Chicago Bears' standout cornerbackNathan Vasher signed on Monday afternoon does not change the base salary this season, but it will dramatically alter his bank account -- especially in the first two years of the new contract.

Nathan Vasher


Chicago Bears


The extension, which runs through the 2012 season, is as originally advertised, according to league salary documents filed late this week. It is worth nearly $28 million in so-called "new money" dollars that Vasher will receive above what he would have banked under his former contract, and includes $14 million in bonuses.

And the best part for Vasher -- a three-year veteran who was entering the final year of his original rookie contract signed in 2004 and would have been eligible for unrestricted free agency next spring without the extension – is that the onetime fourth-round draft choice doesn't have to wait long to collect the bulk of his windfall.

Vasher, 25, will earn $15.6 million by the end of the 2008 season.

The former University of Texas corner received a signing bonus of $9.5 million, and for 2007, kept the same $850,000 base salary he was scheduled to earn under his original deal. But he will also be paid roster bonuses of $2 million this year and $2.5 million in 2008, in addition to his base salary of $750,000 for 2008. That totals $15.6 million.

Base salaries for the rest of the extension are $2.9 million in 2009, $2.95 million in 2010, $3.45 million in 2011 and $3.7 million in 2012.

As a rookie in 2004, Vasher signed a four-year, $1.77 million contract that included a $390,000 signing bonus.

For the Bears, the biggest advantage to the extension is that the team has secured one of the NFL's top young cornerbacks, a player with better man-to-man coverage skills than many "Tampa-2" style defenders, for the next six seasons. But the salary cap charges for the deal are relatively palatable as well, starting at $4.54 million for 2007 and rising to a high of $5.33 million in 2012, the final year of the extension.

In 46 games, Vasher has 120 tackles, 33 passes defensed, one forced fumble and one recovery. He has returned two of his 16 interceptions for touchdowns. Eight of his pickoffs came in the 2005 season.

The team's other starting cornerback, Charles Tillman, is also entering the final season of his contract, and is scheduled to earn a $3.545 million base salary. The Bears are into active negotiations with Tillman as well, and hope to sign him to an extension before the beginning of training camp.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.