Runningback gets long-awaited long-term contract hours before camp opens
It's been talked about for a year, and negotiated for months. In the end, Deuce McAllister has come out with a new seven-year contract, the richest in franchise history, and the Saints avoided a holdout from their best player. The contract is a seven-year extension to his existing deal, an eight-year deal in total.
As part of the new contract, Deuce lowered his 2005 base salary by $1.7 million, freeing up cap room for the team. It also includes roster bonuses in 2007 and 2008 of $1 million.
"Deuce is a team-first guy, and we're really pleased to have Deuce under contract for as long as he wants to be a Saint," Saints GM Mickey Loomis said in a Thursday afternoon press conference.
Deuce is scheduled to be under contract through 2012.
"Eventually, everything worked out and you have to be pleased about it. I'm ecstatic and blessed about the whole situation," McAllister told the media. "I look to finish out my career [in New Orleans]. This basically locks me up in New Orleans and you have to be pleased and proud about that."
"We hadn't gotten to the ultimate game, the Super Bowl. That's what the fans want and hopefully I can be a part of it."
ESPN.com's John Clayton reports that McAllister's new deal is eight years, $50.1 million, including $12.5 million in signing and option bonuses. The contract includes $3.1 million in escalators that McAllister can achieve in the third year based on performance to push the total to $53.2 million.
"It's a tough deal, it was a tough deal to do," Loomis said. "It's obviously a big deal, and Deuce deserves that... I'm excited that it got done."
Earlier this offseason, NOPF reported that McAllister had turned down a long-term contract proposal that resembled the extension Kansas City star Priest Holmes received last offseason, with guaranteed money in excess of $10 million.
McAllister and the Saints reported that they agreed to a new contract only hours before training camp was set to start. In fact, the press conference headed by McAllister and general manager Mickey Loomis took place only 30 minutes before the first team meeting of training camp on Thursday.
McAllister and his agent Ben Dogra have landed the second biggest runningback contract in the league. San Diego runningback LaDainian Tomlinson's year-old contract was worth $60 million and had $21 million in gauranteed money over eight years.
McAllister's contract is potentially bigger than the previous second-biggest contract for a runningback, signed by Washington's Clinton Portis signed before the 2004 season. Portis received $50.5 million over eight years with $17 million gauranteed.
But the Saints looked at many runningback contracts in negotiations with Dogra.
"It's a Deuce McAllister deal," said GM Mickey Loomis at the press conference.
The Saints aren't done with Dogra yet, as the agent SFX Football Group based in St. Louis also represents the Saints' first round pick this year, tackle Jammal Brown. Brown was not signed as of camp's opening meeting, making him the sixth top draft pick in a row that the team has been unable to sign before camp opens. Brown's official contract holdout will be only academic, however, if he makes it in before Friday's 3:00pm practice, the first of the new season.
NewOrleansSaints.com Official Press Release
In a move that secures the long-term services of one of the NFL's most productive rushers, the New Orleans Saints have signed RB Deuce McAllister to a seven-year contract extension, it was announced today by Executive Vice-President/General Manager Mickey Loomis. McAllister has one year remaining on the six-year deal he signed as a rookie in 2001, and the new contract extends through 2012.
McAllister has been one of the NFL's top performers since taking over as the starter in 2002 and is the lone player in team history to post three-straight 1,000 yard seasons (2002-04). He ranks second in club record books with 4,194 rushing yards and 31 rushing touchdowns and holds the team mark by having reached the 100-yard milestone in 22 games. Since the opener in 2002, McAllister has recorded 5,199 yards from scrimmage (4,103 rushing, 1,096 receiving), scored 35 touchdowns and was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2002 and 2003. He was voted an alternate to the postseason all-star game last season.
"Getting Deuce the contract extension he deserves was a top priority before training camp started," said Loomis. "We wanted to make this commitment to him, because he's one of our team leaders and one of our most valuable players. With his future secured, Deuce can move forward and have another productive season."
In 2004, McAllister started all 14 games he appeared -- missing two contests with an ankle injury -- and had 1,074 yards rushing with nine touchdowns and added 34 receptions for 228 yards. It was a solid encore to 2003, when he turned in perhaps the greatest all-around season for an offensive player in team history with 1,641 yards rushing and 516 receiving yards on 69 grabs. He also became the only Saints player to post over 2,000 yards from scrimmage and rushed for over 100 yards in a club-record nine-straight contests. In 2002, McAllister led the NFC with 1,388 yards on 325 attempts, hauled in 47 passes for 352 yards and scored 16 touchdowns.