NEW YORK, APRIL 20 -- Former Notre Dame wide receiver Raghib "Rocket" Ismail signed a four-year, $26.2 million contract with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League late tonight that will make him the highest-paid football player in history.

According to a source close to Ismail, who was considered to be the likely overall No. 1 pick in Sunday's National Football League draft, he signed the contract between the first and second periods of the Los Angeles Kings' playoff game. Ismail sat in the skybox of Bruce McNall, who owns both the Kings and the Argonauts.

"I know he signed and I know it's an unbelievable contract," said Ismail's younger brother, Sulaiman Ismail. "We just got off the phone with him and he said he was going to take some pictures with the people that helped him sign. He's worked hard for that money. But we can't believe it, we can't believe it. This is incredible."

Simply put, the contract, negotiated by agents Edward Abrams and Louis Duvernay, contains some amazing clauses:Most of Ismail's money -- $18.2 million -- will be guaranteed, with a $3.5 million annual base salary. Unlike many NFL contracts, none of the money is deferred beyond the life of the deal. Ismail will receive 2.5 percent ownership of the Argonauts each year, for a total of 10 percent at the end of the contract. For each year of the contract, Ismail will get $5 for each seat sold in the SkyDome over 40,000 each game for a maximum of $1 million a year. Ismail will receive $1 million "guaranteed endorsement revenue," according to the source. That means for each year of the contract, McNall will make up for any potential lack of endorsement revenue up to $1 million. Ismail's contract has a "best effort clause." That means McNall and Ismail, and hockey star Wayne Gretzky and movie star John Candy (both of whom own 20 percent of the Argonauts) could make financial investments together. McNall will guarantee Ismail's portion of any potential investment up to $1 million. Even if there are no investments by Ismail, he will still get the $1 million. There is a tax differential clause. McNall will make up the difference for the higher Canadian taxes. Ismail will get a luxury box at the Toronto SkyDome for family and friends. McNall will buy Ismail a car, the value of which cannot be less than $50,000 or more than $100,000.

Ismail had been negotiating with the NFL's Dallas Cowboys, who made a trade with the New England Patriots on Friday to get the first overall pick in the NFL draft. But it became clear that negotiations had reached a stalemate late today.

Sources within the Cowboys said tonight that owner Jerry Jones wanted to draft Ismail, but that Coach Jimmy Johnson would like to trade the No. 1 pick for more picks.

The Patriots traded the No. 1 overall pick to the Cowboys for a first- and second-round pick and a choice of three of five players. The three players likely to join the Patriots are cornerbacks Ron Francis and Robert Williams and 30-year-old linebacker Eugene Lockhart.

The Cowboys also have the 12th and 14th picks in the first round, as well as two picks in both the third and fourth rounds.

This afternoon, Ismail's financial advisers faxed the Cowboys a contract proposal. Duvernay, one of Ismail's agents handling contract negotiations for Team Rocket, said Ismail had not lowered his asking price from negotiations with the Patriots. Ismail's representatives asked New England for a five-year, $15.5 million deal.

"Our policy is not to negotiate through the press, but Ismail is looking for stability in his contract," said Duvernay. "The length of contract is not as important as the average yearly payment. He does want stability."

McNall is well known for his desire to pay his star athletes extremely well. He pays out much of his money to the players on the Kings hockey team. Led by the contract of Gretzky, worth $3 million per year, the Kings had the highest payroll in the National Hockey League last season.

Ismail could not be reached late tonight, but earlier in the week he said: "If people think {going to the CFL} is a ploy, then they can think whatever they want to think. I know Canada is a definite possibility."

Highlights of the contract between Raghib "Rocket" Ismail (right) and the Toronto Argonauts, the total value of which could reach $26.2 million, making him the highest-paid football player in history:

$18.2 million over four years with annual salaries of $3.5 million.

A 10 percent ownership of the Argonauts after four years.

$5 for each seat sold at the SkyDome over 40,000 each game.

A luxury box at the SkyDome for family and friends.

A car, worth at least $50,000 but not more than $100,000.

Guaranteed endorsement revenue of $1 million.

A tax differential clause to compensate for higher Canadian taxes.