Eight-year veteran linebacker Tedy Bruschi, who was entering the final season of his contract with the New England Patriots, has signed a three-year extension that will take him through the 2007 season.
The deal, which Bruschi negotiated himself, includes a $3.5 million signing bonus. The base salaries are $700,000 (for 2004), $850,000 (2005), $1.35 million (2006) and $1.7 million (2007). There are also offseason workout bonuses included.
New England recoups some room on its 2004 cap with the extension. Perhaps even more important, it further secures the services of a key defender who would have been eligible for unrestricted free agency after this season, and affords Bruschi a viable opportunity to finish his career with the only NFL franchise for which he ever played.
Bruschi, 31, is coming off a terrific 2003 season in which he started all 16 games and in which his statistics reflected his overall versatility. He was second on the team in tackles, with 137, but also had three interceptions, 16 passes defensed, three forced fumbles, one recovery and two sacks.
From his inside linebacker spot in the 3-4 alignment, he is asked to drop and cover more than perhaps any other player the NFL at that position, and his flexibility permits the Pats' defensive staff to be very creative with him on third down.
For his career, Bruschi has 640 tackles, 21½ sacks, 14 forced fumbles, four recoveries, eight interceptions and 43 passes defensed.
The former University of Arizona star has appeared in 120 games and started in 72 of them. He was chosen in the third round of the 1996 draft with a pick the Patriots acquired from the Detroit Lions.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.