Only a few years after a disappointing and unproductive stretch in which Calvin Pace missed much of the 2005 season following a bye-week accident, the former Arizona Cardinals hybrid defensive end/linebacker has landed a monster contract.
Pace reached an agreement with the New York Jets on a six-year, $42 million contract on Monday. The deal, negotiated by agent Pat Dye Jr. and his associates at Atlanta-based ProFiles Sports Management, includes a signing bonus of $20 million and $22 million in total guarantees.
The contract, which makes Pace one of the highest paid linebackers in NFL history, will pay out $26 million in its first three years.
"We think he can help in our defense," Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum said. "We saw him play in the 3-4 defense last year and we're excited to get him."
Pace is the second major addition to the New York defense this offseason, with the Jets having acquired tackle Kris Jenkins from Carolina last week. Pace, who chose the offer from the Jets over one from Miami, should give coach Eric Mangini the pass-rushing 3-4 linebacker they have been seeking.
"Calvin is an intelligent, young player who has been productive as an outside linebacker in the 3-4 alignment," Mangini said. "He has been effective with his hand on and off the ground."
A first-round choice in the 2003 draft, Pace has only 38 starts in five seasons. He has, however, experienced a bit of a perfect storm lately, which has raised Pace's profile with pro talent scouts around the league.
Pace began his career playing end in a 4-3 front, dabbled some at strongside linebacker in that alignment in 2006, and then moved to linebacker full time in 2007, when the Cardinals converted to a 3-4 defense and lost pass-rushers Chike Okeafor and Bert Berry to injuries. Starting all 16 games for the first time since his 2003 rookie campaign, Pace posted 98 tackles and 6½ sacks last season, with one interception, six passes defensed, a forced fumble and two recoveries. Following that 2005 accident, in which he severely lacerated his right forearm, the Cardinals withheld much of his base salary
In 67 career games, the former Wake Forest star has 182 tackles and 14 sacks.
Len Pasquarelli covers the NFL for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.