NFL news of September 27, 2002

After three years of proving he’s the real deal, Donovan McNabb has the real deal.

The Eagles’ 25-year-old quarterback signed a 12-year, $115-million contract on Friday that makes him the highest-paid player in NFL history. That distinction doesn’t tend to last long in professional sports, but it’s McNabb’s for now.

“It’s a special contract,” Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said, “but it’s going to a very, very special player and person.”

The contract, negotiated by Eagles president Joe Banner and Chicago attorney Fletcher Smith over the last several weeks, pays McNabb $20.5 million in guaranteed bonus money. The bonuses come in two payments: $13.5 million immediately and another $7 million at the end of next season, Smith said.

The last three years of the contract, which account for just over $30 million of the total value, can be voided by McNabb if he plays in 35 percent of the Eagles’ offensive plays. Because of that, the deal’s true value is $72 million over nine years.

In 2010, when he is 34, McNabb will have to decide whether to void the contract. By then, if he’s still playing well, the Eagles and Smith are likely to have negotiated another extension. So if this deal doesn’t absolutely guarantee that McNabb will play his entire career with the Eagles, it comes close.

— Phil Sheridan, Philadelphia Inquirer “McNabb signs richest contract in NFL history.”

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