Len Pasquarelli

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Wednesday, August 28
Sims receives largest bonus in Chiefs history

By Len Pasquarelli

Just 11 days shy of the season opener, but having missed all of training camp, first-round draft choice Ryan Sims finally reached a contract accord with the Kansas City Chiefs on Wednesday afternoon, ESPN.com learned.

The sixth player selected overall, Sims, along with agent Hadley Engelhard, traveled to Kansas City on Tuesday for face-to-face negotiations. The two had planned to return to their home Wednesday, after a four-hour session on Tuesday failed to produce a deal, but the logjam was broken a few just hours before their flight.

A former North Carolina defensive tackle, Sims will sign a seven-year contract that will void to six years if he reaches predetermined benchmarks. The total value of the contract was not immediately available, but Sims will receive $9.875 million in a combined signing bonus and second-level option bonus due next spring.

The bonus is the largest ever paid to a Chiefs player, and the overall first-year compensation represents an increase of 31 percent over the corresponding player in the 2001 draft, New England defensive tackle Richard Seymour. In the first three years of the contract, Sims will earn about $13 million, a 20 percent increase over Seymour. The increase in first-money money is the largest in this year's draft.

The entire contract will be guaranteed until the Chiefs exercise the option next spring.

Reaching an agreement with Sims leaves just three first-round selections still without contracts. Sims is one of two first-round choices who requested an investigation into possible collusion between the Chiefs and Vikings. It is not yet certain if he will drop the collusion investigation now that he and the Chiefs have come to an agreement.

Until Tuesday, there had been no truly substantive discussions in recent days. Engelhard forwarded the Chiefs a new proposal on Aug. 19 but did not hear back from Kansas City officials and finally called them on Monday morning. The agent said that he "definitely made concessions" in his latest proposal. The final hurdle, cleared on Wednesday, appeared to be over so-called "back end" issues, principally "escalators" that would enhance the value of the contract.

In the last 12 seasons, the Chiefs have had only two first-round choices into camp on time, so the stalemate with Sims was nothing new to the franchise.

Sims, 22, appeared in 44 games and started 33 for the Tar Heels, and had 167 tackles and 14 sacks in his college career. He was elevated to the first unit in a spring minicamp but that status is obviously in jeopardy now. In fact, coach Dick Vermeil said last week that Sims would not be prepared to start the Sept. 8 opener at Cleveland.

The remaining unsigned first-round draft choices are cornerback Quentin Jammer of San Diego (No. 5 pick overall), offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie of Minnesota (No. 7) and Arizona defensive tackle Wendell Bryant (No. 12). Sims and McKinnie have filed papers, through the NFL Players Association, suggesting the Chiefs and Vikings may have colluded in their respective negotiations.

There could be a break in Jammer negotiations, since San Diego officials flew to San Francisco on Tuesday night and were to meet with agent Mike Sullivan in the Bay Area. The two sides are in agreement on many of the primary elements of a contract, but are still approximately $1 million apart on the value of the contract in its first three seasons.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

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