A week of tough negotiations, including several tenuous moments Tuesday night when the deal nearly fell apart, has concluded in the Washington Redskins reaching a contract extension agreement with left offensive tackle Chris Samuels.
The five-year veteran, who has been a starter since his rookie season, agreed late Tuesday to a new seven-year contract worth $46.5 million. It includes a $15.75 million signing bonus, the largest in franchise history, and total guarantees of $19 million. Samuels will earn about $23 million in the first three years of the contract.
The deal, negotiated by agent Jimmy Sexton over the past week, continues the upward spiral of contracts for offensive tackles. The signing bonus is the third-largest ever paid an offensive linemen, trailing on the $18 million in upfront money received by Jonathan Ogden of the Baltimore Ravens two years ago and the $16 million signing bonus awarded Seattle's Walter Jones last week.
In terms of per-year average in the first three seasons of the contract, it is believed that Samuels is the second highest-paid lineman in league history.
Even though it seemed certain over the last few days that an agreement would be struck that would grant the Redskins salary cap relief before the beginning of free agency on Wednesday, there were some tense moments Tuesday evening as the two sides haggled over contract language and dollar distribution. By signing Samuels to the extension, the Redskins will recoup $3 million-$5 million in cap room.
Samuels, 27, was entering the final year of the contract he signed with Washington as one of the club's two first-round choices in the 2000 draft. He was due $6.5 million between base salary and bonuses in 2005 and carried a cap charge of $9.5 million. Team officials had been attempting to restructure Samuels' contract for more than a year.
Last week, it appeared that reaching a new deal with Samuels would be necessary, since the Redskins needed cap room in the event they traded wide receiver Laveranues Coles. Even though trade negotiations continued on Tuesday with the New York Jets, the talks did not result in a trade and likely won't now.
Roosevelt Barnes, the agent for Coles, told ESPN.com late Tuesday that it was "highly unlikely" that Washington will trade his client.
Still, by completing the Samuels contract, the Redskins will be well under the league ceiling of $85.5 million with which each NFL team must be in compliance Wednesday morning. And the cap savings will provide the Redskins with some wiggle room in the event they pursue some veteran free agents.
A former University of Alabama star, Samuels was the third prospect chosen overall in the 2000 draft. He has appeared in 76 games, all starts, in five seasons.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click here.