It's one offensive cornerstone down, one to go for the New England Patriots. The Super Bowl champions agreed to a contract extension Monday with tailback Corey Dillon, and now will try to complete a long-awaited deal with quarterback Tom Brady.
Dillon agreed to a two-year, $10 million extension that will become a five-year deal worth as much as $25 million if the Patriots exercise an option in 2007. Dillon, who turns 31 in October, was entering the final season of his previous contract, and the Patriots rewarded him with a lucrative extension after he rushed for 1,635 yards and 12 touchdowns last season following his offseason acquisition in a trade with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Dillon put his troubled past in Cincinnati behind him and fit in nicely in the New England locker room, and provided Brady with the sort of rushing threat to keep defenses off balance that the Patriots had lacked in previous seasons.
Next up for the Patriots is trying to complete their near-deal with Brady, the three-time Super Bowl winner whose current contract runs through the 2006 season. The Patriots have been negotiating an extension with Brady and his agent, Don Yee, and apparently have had the outline of an agreement in place for weeks. The six-year deal would be worth about $60 million, including approximately $24 million in bonus money. But Brady and Yee reportedly have objected to the Patriots' proposal that the bonus money be paid in four installments, not all of which would be completely guaranteed upon the signing of the contract.
Brady has said that he'd be willing to accept less than market value to remain with the Patriots, and he appears willing to sign a contract worth less than the extensions signed last year by fellow quarterbacks Peyton Manning with the Indianapolis Colts ($98 million over seven years, including a $34.5 million signing bonus) and Michael Vick with the Atlanta Falcons ($130 million over 10 years, including $37 million in bonuses). He apparently is not willing, however, to allow the Patriots to structure the bonus payments in such an unusual manner.
Niners' Deliberations Reach End Game
The San Francisco 49ers are in the final stages of deliberations over which player to choose with the top overall selection in the draft in 11 days.
Two candidates, Michigan wide receiver Braylon Edwards and Miami cornerback Antrel Rolle, visited the club's training facility Monday. Cal quarterback Aaron Rodgers is scheduled to visit Wednesday. Team officials traveled to Salt Lake City last week to watch a private workout by their fourth candidate, Utah quarterback Alex Smith.
The 49ers likely will choose between Rodgers and Smith if they're unable to trade the pick. . . .
The Houston Texans re-signed free-agent wideout Corey Bradford to a one-year, $800,000 contract. Bradford had drawn interest from the Detroit Lions and New York Giants. His brief flirtation with the Giants ended when the club signed Plaxico Burress as a free agent. . . .
The Texans also re-signed running back Jonathan Wells, a restricted free agent. . . . Arizona re-signed cornerback Robert Tate, an unrestricted free agent, and released two linebackers, Raynoch Thompson and LeVar Woods. . . . Baltimore signed linebacker Tommy Polley, an unrestricted free agent from St. Louis. . . . Tennessee signed defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch, an unrestricted free agent formerly with the Cardinals. It was the first free agent signed this offseason by the Titans, who released several high-profile players in a February salary-cap purge.
Safety Meeting Today
Representatives of the league and the NFL Players Association are scheduled to meet today in New York to continue their discussions on player-safety issues.
Members of the league's competition committee have made safety issues one of their focal points this offseason, and have had a series of discussions on the topic with players and union leaders. The league's team owners, on the recommendation of the competition committee, approved several rule changes at last month's league meetings aimed at making the game safer for players, including banning several types of blocks that were regarded by players as dangerous.
Today's meeting comes in the aftermath of the death of former Carolina Panthers defensive lineman Al Lucas, who was pronounced dead at a Los Angeles hospital soon after suffering an apparent spinal cord injury during an Arena Football League game on Sunday. The NFL Players Association has helped to organize and run the AFL Players Association.
"We are saddened by the death of Al Lucas and we will do all we can to support the family [to] deal with this sudden loss," NFL Players Association chief Gene Upshaw said in an e-mail Monday night. "We will work with the team, the league and the family to help."