Last year, Rod Marinelli moved Cory Redding from defensive end to defensive tackle in the belief he could be one of the best defensive tackles in football.
On Monday, the Lions backed up that belief by making him the highest-paid defensive tackle in football. Redding, the team's franchise player in 2007, agreed to a seven-year, $49 million contract that included $16 million in guarantees, including $13 million in signing bonus and roster guarantees.
Redding will receive a little more than $20 million over the first three years of his contract.
Redding's agreement beat a 4 p.m. Monday deadline for franchise players. Had he not reached an agreement, Redding would have been forced to only accept a one-year deal with no chance of an extension until next season. Under those circumstances, Redding might have held out the entire training camp.
Now, he will be present for the start of camp and will work with Shaun Rogers in what Marinelli believes will be one of the more dominating interior defensive lines in football.
Redding's agent, Kennard McGuire, was unavailable for comment while he worked out the final paperwork to submit to the league before the deadline.
Initially, Redding wanted to hit the free-agent market and leave the team. Marinelli and the organization decided to franchise him and try to talk him into taking a long-term deal. Last Monday, both sides had a major breakthrough in negotiations when the Lions came within $400,000 a year of Redding's demands.
Talks slowed down last Friday and Saturday and the possibility of no long-term deal existed. On Monday morning, the Lions increased their offer and signed him for $7 million a year.
The Redding deal tops the five-year, $33.24 million contract given to Vikings defensive tackle Kevin Williams.
The 6-foot-4, 290-pound Redding was taken in the third round of the 2003 draft and started nine games as a defensive end as a rookie. In the past three years, he had 48 starts. Last year, he had career highs in tackles (47) and sacks (eight).
Senior writer John Clayton covers the NFL for ESPN.com.