Quarterback Dan Fouts, the National Football League's offensive player of the year last season, signed a six-year contract with the San Diego Chargers yesterday that reportedly is worth more than $1 million per year, including incentive clauses and bonuses.
Gene Klein, San Diego owner, said at a press conference at San Diego's Jack Murphy Stadium that Fouts' contract "is the highest in the history of the National Football League and Dan is deserving of that."
"I'm very happy with the contract," said Fouts, 32. Last year, Houston quarterback Archie Manning earned $600,000, which represented the highest base salary in the NFL.
"I'd have to be crazy to want to be the quarterback of another team. This is the finest offense in the history of the NFL," Fouts said.
Fouts, who played out his option with the Chargers last season while leading the NFL in passing yardage for the fourth straight year, said that he had negotiated with the new San Diego franchise of the U.S. Football League before re-signing with the Chargers.
While Howard Slusher, Fouts' agent, said that he was not approached with offers from another NFL team, Fouts said that the offer from the USFL's San Diego franchise was "everything I wanted except something I believe the Chargers can give me--a Super Bowl ring."
On April 25, Fouts had reached verbal agreement with the Chargers on a contract that reportedly would have earned him more than $1 million per year. However, the deal collapsed when Klein and Slusher differed as to what the verbal agreement had been. Klein said yesterday that he reopened negotions Friday when he called Fouts at his home in Oregon and said, "it is our desire that you be our quarterback."
When Fouts said that he wanted to remain with the Chargers, Klein said he met with Slusher Saturday and an agreement was reached.