Chargers sign Cooper to five-year deal

The San Diego Chargers have signed inside linebacker Stephen Cooper to a new five-year contract that runs through the 2010 season. Cooper was due to become an Unrestricted Free Agent upon the expiration of his current contract after this season. No other terms of the contract were announced.

"Stephen is one of our young fast-rising players," said General Manager A.J. Smith. "He's a hard worker; he's tough and physical. We are very excited that he will continue to be a part of the building process on defense."

Cooper, 6-1, 235, came to the Chargers as an unheralded rookie free agent out of the University of Maine and blossomed into a key performer on one of the strongest linebacker corps in the NFL. He has never missed a game in three seasons – starting four of 48 games played – and made key contributions on both defense and special teams.

"It was really important for me to get this taken care of before the regular season so that I could just focus on football," Cooper said. "I wanted to be here and the organization wanted me to be here, so I'm just glad that it worked out the way that it did. I know the defense and now that I've been in Wade Phillips' system for three years, I can go out there and do my job to the best of my ability. I'm 27-years-old and would love to never have to move again. I'm really excited about this team. I didn't want to go anywhere else because I love playing with the group of guys we have here."

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