Report: WR Stallworth Signed By Patriots

Early reports indicate that the Patriots have landed the former Eagle free agent wide receiver Donte Stallworth. The deal adds another playmaker to the much-maligned wide receivers group the Patriots used to get to the AFC championship last year.

Sunday morning an initial report surfaced that the Patriots signed Philadelphia Eagles free agent wide receiver Donte Stallworth to a 6-year, $30-million deal with approximately $12-million in guaranteed money.

Coming off an injury-plagued season with the Eagles in 2006, Stallworth will have to show he's healthy enough to last an entire season. According to a revised ESPN article, the terms of the contract were structured to protect the Patriots in case he cannot perform due to injury (or other), while rewarding Stallworth if he is able to perform as expected.

According to ESPN, the first year Stallworth gets a $1 million signing bonus, a $1.6 million roster bonus and a $300,000 workout bonus. Fairly inexpensive for a top-flyte receiver. If Stallworth has a successful season, the Patriots can keep him on the roster, but will have to pay him another $8 million in bonus money by March 1st with plenty of options for Stallworth to earn more, up to a reported $11 million.There are additional options for New England to keep Stallworth for up to six seasons while providing the playmaker with an opportunity to earn up to $33 million.

New Orleans Saints defender Josh Bullocks (29) breaks up the pass intended for Philadelphia Eagles receiver Donte Stallworth (18) in the first quarter of the NFC divisional playoff football game at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Saturday, Jan. 13, 2007. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Stallworth participated in 12 games for the Eagles last season, catching 38 passes for 725 yards and five touchdowns.

The signing caps a week of visits by Stallworth to other teams in search of the best deal. The speedy, but oft-injured, Stallworth also drew interest from the Philadelphia Eagles, Tennessee Titans, and Miami Dolphins.

The signing caps a frenzied start to the 2007 free agency period by the Patriots. It also gives the Patriots depth at a position of need. The pursuit of players who can start immediately is something not normally associated with a Bill Belichick run football team. The typical slow and steady build through the draft philosophy has been replaced by an aggressive spending spree to land impact players.

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