Tackle expected to play role as rookie

Updated: June 28, 2004, 4:05 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

Defensive tackle Terry "Tank" Johnson, the second-round draft choice of the Chicago Bears and a player expected to log considerable playing time as a rookie, Monday signed a five-year contract with the team.

Complete financial details of the contract were not immediately available, but ESPN.com has learned that agents Brian Mackler and Bill Heck negotiated a $1.725 million signing bonus on a deal thought to include a healthy increase over the commensurate second-round slot from the 2003 draft.

The fifth year of the contract includes an escalator.

Johnson, 22, is just the second player from the second round, and only the fourth prospect chosen in the first three rounds, to reach contract terms. The agents, from the Manattan-based firm Sportstars, tend to be proactive in negotiations.

The former University of Washington player was the 47th player chosen overall and the third of Chicago's eight picks to reach a contract agreement. The Bears earlier came to terms with both their fourth-rounders, cornerback Nathan Vasher of Texas and linebacker Leon Joe of Maryland.

The Bears also chose a defensive tackle, Oklahoma star Tommie Harris, in the first round of the 2004 lottery. Harris and Johnson figure to be part of the tackle rotation this season and serve as twin interior building blocks. The Bears are remaking a defensive line that should be more active under rookie head coach Lovie Smith, who will implement a one-gap scheme that stresses quickness and penetration.

One of the fastest-rising players in the month preceding the draft, Johnson really moved up teams' draft boards after having a productive offseason. A two-year starter, he finished his college career with 64 tackles, including 29 for losses, and 15 sacks. Ten of the sacks and 18 of the tackles for losses came in 2003.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.