But the Cardinals were dead set on getting the man that would help sell more tickets and who could bring much-needed balance to their offense.
Let the Edgerrin James mania begin in Arizona . It certainly did on Saturday.
Reports are indicating that James got a 4-year deal worth $30 million, including a $7 million signing bonus. That's a few million short of the $11.5 million signing bonus that Seattle's Shaun Alexander was given.
But wait. According to his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, James will put $14.75 million in the bank by the time he hangs up his cleats at the end of his first season in Arizona . And he will reportedly earn a grand total of $20 million by the end of his second season. Both FoxSports.Com and ESPN.com are reporting that in additin to his initial signing bonus of $7 million, he'll get a $4.5 million roster bonus on the seventh day of the 2006 league year, which would be in the next day or so. The base salaries in the contract are $3.25 million (for 2006), $5.25 million (2007), $5 million (2008) and $5 million (2009).
Not bad work if you can get it.
"It's a great situation. All they really need is a back," James said at a press conference. "They've got an MVP quarterback, they've got two Pro Bowl receivers. They got a back and they're going to shore up the offensive line."
Colts head coach Tony Dungy told the Associated Press that he was happy for James.
"He was fantastic for us the time we were here, we wish we could have kept him but you can't keep everyone," he said.
Alexander's new contract is essentially a four-year, $28.5625 million deal, even if the official terms are for eight years and $62 million. The wire-service reports called his deal the largest signed by an NFL running back, but Alexander will never see those numbers. Seattle paid an $11.5 million bonus.
Alexander's cap number was $6.323 million in 2005. Because the NFL has allowed teams to prorate deals signed during the recent CBA negotiations over five years as opposed to four, the cap number is $5.925 million this year and $5.7 million in 2007. It jumps to $6.775 million in 2008, the third year of the deal. In the fourth year, the cap number jumps up yet again, to $7.862 million. If the Seahawks cut him after the fourth year of the deal -- Alexander will be 32 heading into 2009 -- the cap hit would be the fifth-year proration of $2.3 million. Cutting him after the fifth year of the deal would carry no cap charge.
Signing bonus: $11.5M
Base salaries: $1.625M (2006), $1.4M (2007), $4.475M (2008), $5.5625M (2009), $6.65M (2010), $7.7375M (2011), $8.825M (2012), $9.9125M (2013). Cap numbers: $6.5M (2006), $6.275M (2007), $7.35M (2008), $8.437M (2009), $6.65M (2010), $7.7375M (2011), $8.825M (2012), $9.9125M (2013).
One-year contract value: $15.125M. Two-year contract value: $18.525M. Three-year contract value: $23M. Four-year contract value: $28.5625M. Five-year contract value: $35.2125M. Six-year contract value: $42.95M. Seven-year contract value: $51.775M. Eight-year contract value: $61.6875M.
In the end, both teams got what they wanted - Seattle retained their MVP and the Cardinals got a running back of elite caliber. But the back-end machinations of these deals indicate what astute students of player contracts already know - that the initial reports of years and dollars are often misleading. Best to wait until all the numbers shake down before you decide whether a player is worth his new deal.
Edgerrin James - Career Statistics
Shaun Alexander - NFL Statistics